16 And this was why the Jews were per­se­cut­ing Jesus, because he was doing these things on the Sab­bath. 17 But Jesus answered them, “My Father is work­ing until now, and I am work­ing.”

18 This was why the Jews were seek­ing all the more to kill him, because not only was he break­ing the Sab­bath, but he was even call­ing God his own Father, mak­ing him­self equal with God.

19 So Jesus said to them, “Tru­ly, tru­ly, I say to you, the Son can do noth­ing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For what­ev­er the Father[a] does, that the Son does like­wise. 20 For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he him­self is doing. And greater works than these will he show him, so that you may mar­vel. 21 For as the Father rais­es the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will. 22 For the Father judges no one, but has giv­en all judg­ment to the Son, 23 that all may hon­or the Son, just as they hon­or the Father. Who­ev­er does not hon­or the Son does not hon­or the Father who sent him. 24 Tru­ly, tru­ly, I say to you, who­ev­er hears my word and believes him who sent me has eter­nal life. He does not come into judg­ment, but has passed from death to life.

The big idea of the mes­sage today is that Jesus is God.  This is one of key pas­sages about the deity of Jesus.  The deity of Jesus means that Jesus is God.  This is a very fun­da­men­tal truth to the Chris­t­ian faith.  Your eter­nal des­tiny hangs on this truth.  If you do not believe that Jesus is the God-man, you are not saved just like Jeho­vah Wit­ness­es, Moslems and peo­ple of all oth­er false reli­gions.  You do not wor­ship the true God.  You wor­ship what you do not know.  You are liv­ing dan­ger­ous­ly.  You are under the canopy of God’s wrath.    

It is also impor­tant for a Chris­t­ian, because it will help you to defend this truth with con­fi­dence.  Jeho­vah Wit­ness­es will come knock­ing on your door to tell you that Jesus is not God.  How will you effec­tive­ly respond to them?  Many pro­fess­ing Chris­tians do not know how to defend their faith, because they are igno­rant.  There­fore, it will be impor­tant for you to pay atten­tion to this mes­sage. 

This mes­sage may not be strange to you today.  Our very first mes­sage in the series of John was “Jesus is God”.  Before this text, the Holy Spir­it through the Apos­tle John has stat­ed that Jesus is God.  John the Bap­tist has also stat­ed that He is God, because He takes away the sin of the world.  The Dis­ci­ples have also con­fessed that He is the Mes­si­ah.  Jesus him­self has con­fessed pri­vate­ly to the Samar­i­tan woman that He is the Mes­si­ah. 

But what is unique about this pas­sage is that Jesus him­self is stat­ing that He is God, and He is stat­ing it pub­licly and in the face of his ene­mies in very clear terms.  He is freely con­fess­ing to ene­mies that are deter­mined to kill him.  He is nei­ther water­ing down the truth, nor back­ing off.  It is quite a les­son to us not to be afraid of speak­ing the truth before the ene­mies of God. 

It is inter­est­ing that at first, His ene­mies accused him of break­ing the Sab­bath. In response, he told them that He did what he did because He is God.  That infu­ri­at­ed the ene­mies.  You might have thought he would retreat.  But he goes on to elab­o­rate this truth, and He is clear­ly explain­ing to them, so that they are clear­ly under­stat­ing him.  They know that He is claim­ing to be God.  He was chal­leng­ing them while ful­ly aware that the penal­ty for blas­phe­my was death.  Leviti­cus 24:16 says, “Who­ev­er blas­phemes the name of the Lord shall sure­ly be put to death…” 

In response to their accus­ing him of break­ing the Sab­bath, Jesus says,“My Father is work­ing until now, and I am work­ing”.  The empha­sis in the state­ment was on “My Father”.  The Jews knew that He was claim­ing to be in a very spe­cial rela­tion­ship with God.  At that time, it was not how they were call­ing God.  When Jesus said it, they knew He was claim­ing to be God; hence, they inten­si­fied their resolve to kill him.  The text says in verse 18, “This was why the Jews were seek­ing all the more to kill him, because not only was he break­ing the Sab­bath, but he was even call­ing God his own Father, mak­ing him­self equal with God”. 

Jesus goes ahead to elab­o­rate this truth.  He makes three argu­ments.

Equal with the Heav­en­ly Father in Works

The first argu­ment He makes is thathe is equal with the Heav­en­ly Father in works.  He says in verse 17, “My Father is work­ing until now, and I am work­ing”

He is telling them that He is not bound by the Sab­bath, because He is God.  As God, He is always at work just like the Father. 

When God cre­at­ed heav­ens and earth, He rest­ed on the Sev­enth day.  But rest­ing on the Sab­bath Day did not mean that He had rest­ed from His works of prov­i­dence and redemp­tion.  God has always been at work.  He caus­es the sun to rise and set every day includ­ing on the Sab­bath.  He sus­tains His cre­ation every day of the week.  He heals peo­ple and ani­mals even on Sab­bath. 

The Jew­ish lead­ers knew that God is always at work includ­ing on the Sab­bath.  The prob­lem is that they did not think Jesus was God.  So they charged him with break­ing the Sab­bath and blas­phe­my.  Iron­i­cal­ly, they were blas­phem­ing against God by think­ing He is not equal with the Heav­en­ly Father and accus­ing Him of break­ing the Sab­bath.  They put God on their human scale and found him guilty. 

No one else but Jesus could and does what­ev­er the Father does.  Moses did not.  Abra­ham did not.  John the Bap­tist did not.  All the prophets did not.  None of us can because we have a sin­ful nature and we com­mit sin.  We are lim­it­ed by our own sins and sin­ful­ness.

Notice Jesus starts by “tru­ly, tru­ly”.  Here he is putting empha­sis on what He is about to say.  When He says, “The Son can do noth­ing…” He does not mean inabil­i­ty, but he is stat­ing that He and the Father work in per­fect uni­ty.  What Jesus was doing was in fact what the Heav­en­ly Father was doing.  Jesus was imple­ment­ing the work of the Father. When he healed the par­a­lyt­ic, it is because the Father healed the par­a­lyt­ic. He did what­ev­er He did because the Father did it.  To accuse Him of break­ing the Sab­bath was to accuse the Heav­en­ly Father of break­ing the Sab­bath.  To charge Him with blas­phe­my was to charge the Father with blas­phe­my. 

Also notice that what he does is a moti­vat­ed by the father’s love for him.  He says in verse 20, “For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he him­self is doing. And greater works than these will he show him, so that you may mar­vel”

Because the Father loves Jesus, the Father grant­ed Jesus to do the Father’s mir­a­cles. Those who accuse the Son of break­ing the Father’s law by heal­ing on the Sab­bath should know that in fact the Father who showed Him those works out of His love for the Son.  What­ev­er the Son did was the Father’s gift to the Son.  It flew from the Father’s love for the Son. 

Equal with the Heav­en­ly Father as a Sov­er­eign Giv­er of Life

The sec­ond argu­ment that Jesus makes is that He is equal with the Heav­en­ly Father as a sov­er­eign giv­er of life.  He says in verse 21, “For as the Father rais­es the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will” 

The Jews under­stood that God has pow­er to give and take life.  That was not their prob­lem.  Notice the fol­low­ing vers­es:

Job 1:21:

“And he said, ‘Naked I came from my moth­er’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has tak­en away; blessed be the name of the Lord’”

1 Samuel 2:6–7:

“The Lord kills and brings to life; he brings down to She­ol and rais­es up. The Lord makes poor and makes rich; he brings low and he exalts.”

Deuteron­o­my 32:39:

“See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god beside me; I kill and I make alive; I wound and I heal; and there is none that can deliv­er out of my hand”

But Jesus is stat­ing that He has pow­er to give life.  He is the source of life.  That makes him God.  Where else do we find evi­dence for this?  The Holy Spir­it has com­mu­ni­cat­ed in John 1:3 that “all things were made through him, and with­out him, was not any­thing made that was made”.  Jesus is the cre­ator. He, with the Heav­en­ly Father and the Holy Spir­it, cre­at­ed the heav­ens and the earth and all that is in them out of noth­ing.  Only Jesus, like the Father and the Holy Spir­it, can cre­ate some­thing out of noth­ing. We can­not.  We are not even lit­tle gods as some igno­rant peo­ple teach.  Only the Tri­une God can cre­ate things into exis­tence. 

Jesus raised Lazarus to life by his word.  The great­est mir­a­cle is when He raised Him­self to life.  He lay down His life will­ing­ly but raised him­self up effort­less­ly on the third day.  Jesus also res­ur­rects the spir­i­tu­al­ly dead. The Bible describes all peo­ple who are not born again to be dead in sin.  They are walk­ing corpses.  He says to those who are spir­i­tu­al­ly dead, “Let there be light” and they become alive spir­i­tu­al­ly.  He gives res­ur­rec­tion to those whom He wills.  He is the sov­er­eign giv­er of life.  No one has pow­er to res­ur­rect him­self.  Only Jesus can give him or her life.  He “…gives life to whom he will”.   

Note that when He is say­ing that He gives life to whom He will, He is refer­ring to the same group of peo­ple.  It is not like the Father is rais­ing one group of peo­ple and the Son is work­ing on anoth­er.  They are co-work­ing.  They are, along with the Holy Spir­it, rais­ing the same group of dead souls to life togeth­er.  When the Son rais­es them to life, the Father and the Spir­it have done it

Jesus is affirm­ing that the Father’s will is His will.  They are two per­sons, but they have one will.  What the Father wills is what the Son wills.  When the Father was send­ing His Son to the earth to die for sin­ners, that was exact­ly the will of the Son and of the Holy Spir­it.  There is noth­ing that the Son will that is not God’s will.  They are of the same essence in their will. 

The Judge who Deter­mines the Eter­nal Des­tiny of all Peo­ple

Jesus’ third argu­ment is that He is judge who deter­mines the eter­nal des­tiny of all peo­ple.  Some peo­ple believe that the Heav­en­ly Father will exe­cute the final judg­ment and that Jesus is the lawyer who will plead with the Father not to judge and pun­ish them.  They think of the Father as the mer­ci­less judge, but of Jesus as a gra­cious lawyer who must plead their case before the Father.  But this text is say­ing that the Father has del­e­gat­ed judge­ment to Jesus. He says in verse 22, “For the Father judges no one, but has giv­en all judge­ment to the Son”.  Judg­ment is in Jesus’ not the Father’s hands. The sav­ior of the world is also judge of the world. 

Notice that it is in present tense: “For the Father judges no one, but has giv­en all judg­ment to the Son”.  In this life Jesus is judge.  And He, not the Father, will exe­cute the final judg­ment. 

The Way to Hon­or The Father is to Hon­or the Son 

Notice in verse 23 why the Father has entrust­ed Jesus with judg­ing the eter­nal des­tinies of all peo­ple. It is“thatall may hon­or the Son, just as they hon­or the Father. Who­ev­er does not hon­or the Son does not hon­or the Father who sent him”Honor here means the holy fear of God. 

God for­bids wor­ship of oth­er gods.  He demands that we should wor­ship only Him.  It is an abom­i­na­tion to wor­ship oth­er gods.  Yet here Jesus argues that the Father has entrust­ed Him with judg­ment so that all peo­ple may hon­or Jesus in the same way that they hon­or the Father.  Accord­ing to God, any hon­or of God that is sep­a­rat­ed from Christ is vain hon­or. The way to hon­or the Heav­en­ly Father is to hon­or Jesus.  He who does not hon­or Jesus does not hon­or the Father.  What a state­ment.  No mat­ter how much you may speak well and appear to hon­or the Heav­en­ly Father, if you dis­hon­or Jesus you are dis­hon­or­ing the Father, because He is the sender of the Son to the world.  If you give hon­or to Jesus but not as God, your hon­or is dis­hon­or.  You may think you hon­or the Father, but you are only deceiv­ing your­self if you do not hon­or Jesus as you hon­or the Father.  The Father demands that His Son be hon­ored as God. 

Only One Way of Escape

There is only one way of escape from the judg­ment of Jesus:  Hear­ing His Word and believ­ing the heav­en­ly Father.  He says in verse 24, “Tru­ly, tru­ly, I say to you, who­ev­er hears my word and believes him who sent me has eter­nal life.  He does not come into judg­ment, but has passed from death to life”

This is not talk­ing about mere hear­ing. It is hear­ing the Gospel that leads to sav­ing faith.  It is hear­ing with both the phys­i­cal ear and the heart.  Notice it says, “Believe him who sent me”.  Jesus is refer­ring to the Father.  To hear the Word of Jesus is to believe the Heav­en­ly Father who sent Him.  He is the only way to the Heav­en­ly Father.  To reject the Word of Jesus is to reject the Father.  No one is a true believ­er of God who rejects Jesus.

The result of believ­ing the Gospel is eter­nal life.  Notice that eter­nal life is not just a future real­i­ty.  It begins here on earth when a sin­ner believes the Gospel.  Jesus says it in present tense, “…has eter­nal life”.  There is no judg­ment for those who have believed in Jesus.  Assures the Lord,“He does not come into judg­ment, but has passed from death to life”

Have you passed from death to life?  What is your rela­tion­ship with Christ like?  Are you under His judg­ment or under His grace?  If you want to escape His judge­ment, repent and put your trust in Him.  Receive His Gospel and you will have eter­nal life.  

We have learnt from Jesus him­self that He is God.  He is equal with the Heav­en­ly Father in works and in will and that He is the judge of the eter­nal des­tiny of all peo­ple. Every human being must hon­or Him as such or He or she will per­ish. 

Are We Free to Wor­ship God How­ev­er We Choose? — TGC Africa (thegospelcoalition.org)

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