The Saving Work of Father and Son — John 5:16-30

// February 8th, 2017 // Sermons

Have you ever had a conversation with someone, where you thought you were talking about the same thing, but as the conversation went on longer, you realized that you were talking about very different things? These can be some of the funniest conversations when we are watching them in a movie, however, they can be the most frustrating conversations to be involved in. Both of you think you are talking about the same thing and are making your point well, but the other person just won’t listen to anything you say. Sometimes this is because the person is stubborn, but many times it’s because you are using the same words, but talking about two different things.

Just imagine that I was talking to you about my friend Echora. We were both talking about how much we like her smile and her laugh. We were talking about how much we appreciate the questions she asks. Then, you say, “Yeah, I really think she’s a good artist.” Then you see the look on my face change. “What?,” I respond, “Echora’s not a good artist. I don’t even think she likes art.” You begin to argue with me about her ability as an artist and her love for art. I begin to argue back because I don’t think I’ve ever seen her do art. I don’t even know how she would have time for art. She’s so busy doing what she really loves…….cage fighting. Then, the conversation begins to get weird. We get into an argument about whether or not Echora fights in cages and whether or not she likes art. I say something about her wasting her physical gifts of God on art—I mean, she’s really ripped. You give me another crazy look. I give you a crazy look. Then……it hits us. We’re talking about two different people. Yeah, there were some similarities between the two, and they had the same name, but they were two different people.

This becomes even more important when we begin to talk about Jesus. What Jesus do you worship? What Jesus are you following? Is it the true Jesus, or one that you created in your head or society created for you? That’s an extremely important question for us to ask. I’ve been in conversations with people where we both are talking about the Jesus we love. Then, all of a sudden, like the my made-up conversation, they say something that sends up a red flag. They say something like, “I just love how Jesus would never say anything like…….” Yet, when we read the Bible, Jesus does say things like that. Or they say, “Jesus would never do anything like…….” Yet, when we read the Bible Jesus does do things like that. Eventually, it comes to the point where they are not loving, following, or worshiping the real Jesus. They are worshiping an idol they’ve created in their own mind. This is why it’s so important to read our Bibles and to hear what Jesus says about himself.

That’s what this passage is all about. It’s Jesus, looking at the Jewish leaders, telling them who He really is. He is clarifying their misconceptions. They think he is one thing. He is telling them that he is another. It all feeds out of the controversy over the Sabbath. So, tonight, we’re looking at John 5:16-30–starting on page 75 in the New Testaments on your chairs. We’re looking at a few verses from last week, but focusing primarily on the new section. Let’s see what Jesus has to say about himself.

And this was why the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because he was doing these things on the Sabbath. But Jesus answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I am working.” 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. 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 does, that the Son does likewise. 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. For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will. For the Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, 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. 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. “Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man. Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment. “I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me.” (John 5:16–30, ESV)  

So, this all begins about a dispute over the Sabbath. In the beginning of the Bible we see God creating the heavens and the earth and everything in them. He does all of this in six days. Then the Bible says, And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day. Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.” (Genesis 1:31–2:3, ESV). So, after creating everything “very good,” God rested on the seventh day and made it holy. To be made holy means to be set apart from everything else. This day–the seventh day–was to be set apart from all of the other days because God rested on this day. This is why one of the Ten Commandments says, “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.” (Exodus 20:8–11, ESV). So, we are called to follow the same pattern as God. He worked six days, then rested on the seventh. We are to remember this day and keep it holy by resting. It’s also important to remember that God took this command very seriously.

The Jews also took this command very seriously. In taking this command very seriously, they began to create all of these other rules and regulations, trying to help people honor the Sabbath and keep it properly. Like I mentioned last week, they had 39 different rule for following the Sabbath. Now, they see this man carrying his mat on the Sabbath, breaking one of their rules, and they come after him for it. He says, “It’s not my fault. Look at Jesus.” So they come after Jesus for “doing these things on the Sabbath” (Jn 5:16). What things are they talking about? Healing.

So Jesus responds to them. He gives them an answer as to why he was doing these things on the Sabbath, saying, “My Father is working until now, and I am working” (Jn 5:17). Now, you may think, “What kind of defense is that?” The Jews come after him for “working” on the Sabbath and Jesus says, “My father is working and so am I.” Yet, this statement actually makes a lot of sense. The Jews had many conversations about what it actually meant for God to rest on the seventh day. Did it really mean that he stopped doing any form of work? They concluded that it was impossible for God to stop working completely, because God was upholding, sustaining, and ruling the entire universe. If God stopped doing that, then everything would stop and basically disappear. So, they had conceded that God did work on the Sabbath in some ways. So, when they come after Jesus for working on the Sabbath, Jesus says, “I know you realize that God is working on the Sabbath in some ways. He’s my Father and I am doing His work, so it’s alright for me to be doing certain works on the Sabbath.”  Then the Jews get really angry. The passage says, 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.” (John 5:18, ESV). They understood exactly what Jesus was saying. Jesus was saying, “God is working in some ways on the Sabbath. I’m equal to God, so I can do these works too.” So they sought to kill Him.

Then Jesus gives them his response, he goes into the explanation further. He starts off saying, “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 does, that the Son does likewise. 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. For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will. For the Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, 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.” (John 5:19–23, ESV). So, Jesus says, “Look here. The only things I do are the things of the Father. The Father shows me what He is doing. I’ve heard and seen what he does and I follow it perfectly. If you’ve seen me, you’ve seen the Father.” Catch all of that? When we see Jesus we are seeing the perfect outworking of the Father here on earth. D.A. Carson says that Jesus is the “narrative” of the Father here on earth, or, as John would say, he is the “Word.” The Father raises people to life and the Son raises people to life. The Father has given him authority to judge and the Son judges, but judges in perfect accordance with the Father’s will. He has done all of these things so that people may honor the Son in the same way they honor the Father. Then he makes another important statement, “Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him” (Jn 5:23). You cannot honor the Father apart from Jesus Christ. If you dishonor Jesus, you dishonor the Father. If you dishonor the Father, you dishonor the Son. You cannot have one apart from the other.

This is why it’s so important for us to read the Bible and understand who Jesus says He is. This is a very strong picture of the doctrine of the Trinity–that we serve a God who is one in essence and three in person, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Each one is fully, equally God, yet they are not mixed together–they are distinct. Yet, they are still one. Here is a helpful chart in understanding the Trinity. The Father is God. The Son is God. The Holy Spirit is God. Yet, the Father is not the Son, nor the Holy Spirit. The Son is not the Father nor the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is not the Father, nor the Son. They are all distinct and they are all one. Yes, that is difficult to grasp, but it is how the Triune God has revealed himself to us. We don’t get to tell Him how he can and cannot be. We must receive Him as he is. Gregory of Nazianzan said, “I cannot think of the unity without being irradiated by the Trinity: I cannot distinguish between the Trinity without being carried up to the unity.”

It’s also important for us to remember this when talking to people about Jesus. Have you ever talked to someone who says they love Jesus but don’t like “the God of the Old Testament”? That’s a different Jesus. Jesus says that if you don’t honor the Father, you don’t honor him. They cannot be separated. For someone to try to tear the Father from the Son, is to talk about a different Jesus. For someone to curse the Father for doing one thing and say that Jesus could never do that thing, is to talk about a different Jesus. Jesus says that he and the Father are ONE. Jesus does nothing but the Father’s will. Jesus is the perfect outworking of the Father.

Then, we get to another central point in this passage. Jesus reveals who he is in relation to the Father. Then he says, that those who honor the Son honor the Father. Then, he tells us how to honor him and the Father. He says, 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.” (John 5:24, ESV). In order to honor the Son and the Father, one must hear and believe the words of Jesus. If you do that, if you hear and believe the words of Jesus, you will have eternal life and will not come into judgement, you will pass from death to life.

I want to take a moment to be explicit about what this passage is saying about humanity. It is saying that all of humanity is dead and under condemnation. Take a moment for that to sink in. All of humanity is dead and under condemnation. You may say, “That’s not true. I see alive people everywhere.” Yet, Paul answers this in Ephesians 2 by calling them Zombies–dead men and women walking. Yeah, they’re walking around and they make look like they’re alive, but they are really dead on the inside. There’s really no life there. They’re dead and they don’t even know it.

They are also under condemnation. We are all born into this world in a sinful condition. We are all born into this world under condemnation. We go through life, carrying the burden of our sin and guilt on our own shoulders. We mess up and try to carry that pain and burden ourselves because we have nowhere to go with it. We sin more and more, slowly adding more weight on our shoulders, trying to carry it all ourselves, until we are almost crushed under the weight of our sin.

That’s our situation apart from Christ. You may be in that situation right now. If that’s not you, you know people who are in that situation right now. They are walking through life dead, carrying an unbearable burden of sin and guilt. The only one who can rescue you–or them–is the Son of God. He has been given the power of judgement and has been given the power to raise people from the dead. He is the only one who has power to bring you–or your friends/family members–back to life and the lift the heavy burden of condemnation from their back.

He is the only one who can do it. You can look all over the place, trying to find something else, but you won’t. Why would you even look anywhere else? He’s right here, offering to take it from you, offering to bring you back to life, offering to remove the heavy burden of condemnation that is on your back, weighing you down. Why turn somewhere else? Why carry it any longer? Why wait? He tells you, right now, if you want to have life–real life–and if you want to have the condemnation removed from your life, then you must hear my words and believe them. By hearing he means really hearing. Not just listening a little bit, but actually hearing and receiving the words he is telling you right now. By believing he is also saying that you must embrace them and trust Him in what He says, trust Him with your life and with your guilt. Will you do that? Will you do that tonight? Will you hear the words that Jesus is speaking to you tonight? Will you believe Him? Will you be brought from death to life, removed from condemnation, and receive eternal life? NOW!

This eternal life doesn’t start sometime in the future. When we hear and believe, we receive the eternal life right now. We receive it now–as a taste–and will experience it in it’s fullness in the future, when Christ returns. Hear His words and believe.

This is not only a reminder for those who are already in Christ, but it’s an encouragement and an exhortation. It’s a reminder of what we’ve been rescued from. It’s an encouragement to continue to cast all of our burdens on the Lord because he cares for you. It’s also an exhortation that we have the only message that will rescue people from death to life, that will remove the massive burden of guilt from their shoulders. Let us not be ashamed of the Gospel. Let us enter into the world, proud that we are followers of a God who will rescue rebellious people. Let us enter the world with the Gospel with boldness and love.

One Response to “The Saving Work of Father and Son — John 5:16-30”

  1. Marcia Ruis says:

    Great encouragement, thanks!

Leave a Reply