by Mike Ratliff
17 But Jesus answered them, “My Father is working until now and I am working. 18 Because of this, therefore, the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him not only because he was breaking the Sabbath, but also he was calling God his own Father making himself equal with God. (John 5:17, 18 Possessing the Treasure New Testament V1)
In this day of man-centered religiosity that has largely supplanted much of Evangelicalism, a study on Jesus Christ as Sovereign Lord, as Messiah, as God with full authority awaiting the trumpet call for judgment to begin is not only seldom preached and taught, but would seem so out of step with the post-modern, politically-correct version of the visible church all around us. The problem is not with the truth of that message, but with the fact that much of what calls itself “Christian” in our time is not. No, these religious groups may have a “god” named “jesus,” but he is anything but the one we are reading of in the Gospel of John. No, the real Jesus deliberately confronted false religious leaders and bluntly told them the truth about himself in contrast to their apostasy.
Carefully read the passage I translated from the NA27 at the top of this post. Jesus healed a man on the Sabbath. He deliberately healed this man to set up a confrontation with the Jewish religious leaders who demanded people obey their oral traditions, which were additions to the Law, but were not in any way Biblical. When they discovered that he had indeed healed the man on the Sabbath, they began persecuting him as we saw in The Beginning of Opposition to the Son of God. In this post we will look at the first part of our Lord’s response to their persecution (John 5:19-29).
19 Therefore, Jesus answered and said to them, “Amen, amen I say to you, the Son is not able to do from himself anything except what he sees the Father doing. For what thing that one is doing these things the Son also likewise is doing. 20 For the Father loves the Son and shows everything to him that he does and greater works than these will he show him that you may marvel. 21 For just as the Father raises the dead and makes them alive, so also the Son makes alive whom he wills. 22 For not even the Father judges anyone, but all judgment has he given to the Son 23 that all men may honor the Son as they honor the Father. The one not honoring the Son does not honor the Father, the one who sent him.” (John 5:19-23 Possessing the Treasure New Testament V1)
Here we have a glimpse into the loving relationship between God the Father and God the Son. All authority belongs to the Father, but he has bestowed all authority upon the Son even as far as all judgment. Who has power over life and death? God does. What life is this? This is eternal life. Notice also the division already being established between those who honor the Father by honoring the Son from those who do not honor the Father by dishonoring the Son even though they may very well believe they are serving the Father. Notice also the sovereign will of our Lord in making alive those whom he wills. This is God’s sovereign choice, no one else’s.
24 “Amen, amen I say to you that the one who hears my Word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and does not come into judgment, but has been transferred out of death into life. 25 Amen, amen I say to you that an hour is coming and how is when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and the ones having heard will live. 26 For just as the Father has life in himself, so also he gave to the Son to have life in himself, 27 and he gave authority to him to make judgment because he is the Son of Man. 28 Do not marvel at this for an hour is coming in which all those in the graves will hear his voice 29 and will come out. The one having done the good things to a resurrection of life, but the ones having practiced the evil things to a resurrection of judgment.” (John 5:24-29 Possessing the Treasure New Testament V1)
As we said above, Jesus gives life to whomever he desires. In v24 these are the ones who hear his Word and believe the Father. These have eternal life and will never see judgment (so much for purgatory). The phrase “but has been transferred out of death into life” speaks of both regeneration and justification. From vv25-29 our Lord switches gears from salvation to the resurrection. We often think of the resurrection as being only of those in Christ, but all men, both the saved and unsaved, will be literally and physically resurrected from the dead. However, only those in Christ experience a spiritual or “born again,” as well as physical resurrection unto eternal life. On the other hand, those not in Christ will be resurrected unto judgment and eternal punishment through separation from God, which is the second death (Revelation 20:6, 14; 21:8).
However, even more important in this context, these verses constitute the proof of the deity of Jesus Christ since the Son has resurrection power, and the Father has granted him the status of Judge of all mankind.
Lastly, in v29 our Lord was not teaching justification by works. In this context, the “good” is believing on the Son as to receive a new nature that produces good works, while the “evil” done is to reject the Son and hate the light, which has the result of evil deeds. In essence, works merely evidence one’s nature as saved or unsaved, but human works never determine one’s salvation.
Soli Deo Gloria!