Jesus, The Son of God
We live in the midst of the Muslim world. Not only that, but we live in a city where many different religions are represented. We have a Seikh Temple right down the road, and many of us have Hindu and Buddhist friends we interact with in our daily lives. Of course, there are many in our city who are completely secular and don’t believe in God at all. To our friends from other backgrounds, Jesus is a controversial figure.
There have been many controversial figures throughout history. Gingus Khan was controversial for his brutal conquering of other peoples. Karl Marx and Sigmund Freud were controversial for their ideas. But Jesus is controversial, not so much because of what he taught or how he lived, but because of who he claimed to be. Loving your neighbor, turning the other cheek, and caring for the poor are things most people in the world at least have respect for.
However, Jesus “making himself equal with God” is not something to be respected, unless he really is God. C.S. Lewis famously said:
“People often say…. ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.’ That is the one thing we must not say. A man who is merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic—on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg—or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is the Son of God; or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come up with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us.”
John 5 is clear evidence for this statement. We have seen in our reading this week that Jesus did the works of God and claimed to be the Son of God. Let’s tie everything together by looking specifically at A Sign, The Son and Three Witnesses. That will be the outline for my talk: A Sign, The Son, and Three Witnesses.
A Sign: John 5:1-15 recounts a sign
Jesus heals a friendless man who had been an invalid for 38 years. And notice he does not use the means the man expects: being placed in the pool. Just as Jesus healed the official’s son in chapter 4 by his word, Jesus heals this man with the command, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk” (v. 8).
This invalid, while pitiful in his own way, is not a very sympathetic character. Jesus asks him if he wants to be healed. Instead of answering the question, he complains to Jesus about his situation.
His reaction to being healed is also not what we would expect. In Acts 3, we can read of an account of a lame man being healed. The lame man’s response is to go “walking and leaping and praising God!” (v. 8). This man takes up his bed and walks. Then after he meets Jesus, he goes to the Jews, who had previously interrogated him and were obviously unhappy about someone daring to heal on the Sabbath, and tells them Jesus did it.
In verse 14, we learn that the man’s disability was brought on by sin, but we have no information of this man repenting and believing Jesus. In the previous chapter we read of the Samaritans and the official and his household believing, but there doesn’t seem to be a response of faith in this man.
Now John would have witnessed Jesus healing many people. Other healings are recorded in other Gospels. Why do you think John chose to write about this healing as the third sign in his Gospel?
Remember John’s statement of purpose in his Gospel, John 20:30-31: “Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”
John may have included this healing because it was the healing of a long-time illness that was seemingly hopeless. You know Jesus has the power to meet longstanding, lingering needs that seem to color our entire lives.
I just had lunch with a dear lady who had a very difficult upbringing. But as she looks back on her life, she sees the Lord’s protection and his drawing her to himself, even throughout her childhood.
Do you have a difficult marriage? Are you dealing with wayward children? Do you have physical pain or health issues with no relief in sight? Ladies, Jesus can meet your need and transform your life. He can heal your marriage, save your children and relieve your pain. Pray for these things. But also realize that your heart is more important to Jesus than your body or your circumstances. In fact, he uses your body and your circumstances to work on your heart—to cause you to treasure him more than your marriage or children or health.
As we see from the invalid’s reaction to Jesus, being freed from affliction does not necessarily lead to loving Jesus and living a godlier life. In John 9 Jesus healed a man born blind, and he said the blindness was not a result of sin (like the illness of the invalid), it was so “that the works of God might be displayed in him” (9:3). That should be our primary prayer: that God would use our long, lingering needs to display his work in our lives.
This miracle of healing the invalid was not just a brute work of power; it was a sign. Like a road sign telling you which way to go. This miracle points us straight to the identity of Jesus… Jesus is The Son of God.
Jesus was doing the work of the Father on that Sabbath when he healed the invalid. It was a merciful work, full of compassion, that foreshadowed God’s gracious work of healing undeserving sinners. This is why John calls this healing a sign—in it, Jesus did what only God can do.
The Jews missed the sign. The Jews’ reaction to the healing of an invalid of 38 years is really astounding. There is no wonder. There is no excitement. There is no desire to know more about the One who did the healing. The Jews completely disregard the amazingly merciful thing that has happened to this downtrodden man and focus on the breaking of their man-made laws.
The Jews don’t believe the sign. Verse 16, “And this is why the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because he was doing these things on the Sabbath.”
Is it possible for us to miss the sign? We can focus on our families, careers, villas and clothes. We can obsess about the future or exercise or food. All the while missing it. The sign is what Jesus has done. The sign is the merciful act of saving sinners. We all have sinned and lived life according to what we think is right, without regard to God. The wages of sin is worse than becoming an invalid—it is eternal death, everlasting torment. But Jesus gave his life to save ours, if we will only repent and believe. Jesus took the punishment so that, not only can we avoid punishment, but we can have life eternal. We should be full of wonder and excitement. We should want to know more about the One who heals undeserving sinners.
Jesus is The Son
We see in verses 17 to 29 that Jesus’ divinity is shown by three things: his work, his life, and his judgment. All three of these things belong to the Father and the Son alike.
Jesus Does the Work of the Father.
When accused of working on the Sabbath, Jesus does not argue about the meaning of work, he says in verse 17, “My Father is working until now, and I am working.” We see in verse 18 the Jews consider this statement blasphemy because in “calling God his own Father,” Jesus was “making himself equal with God.” Jesus explains further in verse 19 that he, “the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For what the Father does, that the Son does likewise.” Jesus is describing an intimate Father-Son relationship between himself and God.
This Father-Son relationship means that Jesus is just like his Father in character and essence, has the same will as his Father, and is loved by and loves the Father. Jesus does what only God can do.
Verse 21 tells us that just as the Father raises the dead, so “the Son gives life.” The Father raised Jesus from the dead, showing he had conquered sin and death.
This is the great work to marvel at of verse 20—the resurrection of the dead. And this is given to Jesus, “who gives life to whom he will” (v. 21).
Jesus Gives Life
God is the author of life and is the only one who raises the dead. John began his Gospel with the Word: “In him was life” (1:4). In chapter 3, Jesus told Nicodemus that a man must be born again to enter the kingdom of God and that whoever believes in Jesus would have eternal life. (In other words, one must be given a new life and that new life comes through belief in Jesus.) In chapter 4, Jesus tells the woman at the well that he can give her water that will well “up to eternal life” (v. 14). Here in chapter 5 we see again that life comes through believing Jesus.
Verse 24 “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.” And verses 25-26: “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.”
Do you notice the present tense of the verbs in these verses: Verse 24 “Whoever… believes… has eternal life” and “has passed from death to life.” Or verse 25 “the hour is now here.” These verses are talking about the spiritually dead being brought to life… and that life is true life that lasts for an eternity. This is what it means to know God and be restored to a right relationship with him. Don’t you want that life?
Just as Jesus raises Lazarus physically from the dead in John 11, Jesus will give you life now and raise you up on that last day. You can pass from death to life today if you will believe.
Verses 22 to 30 explain another divine prerogative of the Son. It is the flip side of life: Judgment. We see in verse 22 the Father “has given all judgment to the Son,” and again in verse 27 the Father “has given [the Son] authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man.”
Jesus, as the Son of Man, has been given dominion over the world. He is the ultimate king and ruler as described in Daniel 7:13-14: “And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.”
When Jesus comes back, it doesn’t matter who your ancestors are, where you are from, what language you speak or what your religious background is. Jesus is your judge whether you are dead in the grave or still alive. According to verse 29, those who have done good will be resurrected to life, and those who have done evil will be resurrected to judgment.
Good works are the evidence of true belief. People who have been born again and really trust in Christ will live lives that make that clear. We act in ways consistent with what we believe—certainly not perfectly, but increasingly and substantially.
We’re saved by grace alone, but the grace that saves is never alone. And that’s how we will be judged at the end of time.
Here’s how John in Revelation describes the judgment:
“Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done…. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire” (Rev. 20:11-15).
Who can stand before the Son of Man on his great white throne on that day? Only those whose names are written in the book of life. Those who have already passed from death to life. Those who the Son has given life. Those who have heard the voice of Jesus and live.
Jesus is the Son. Jesus himself bears witness to it. But there are 3 other witnesses to his identity.
The first witness Jesus mentions is John in verses 31 to 35. As we have seen in previous chapters, John’s message was one of repentance to make way for the coming Messiah. He was the light who pointed the way to Jesus, calling him “The Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (1:29). John was a human witness to the Christ.
Although John was revered and looked to as a prophet from God, Jesus then points to an even greater witness than John. Look at verse 36, “But the testimony that I have is greater than that of John. For the works that the Father has given me to accomplish, the very works that I am doing, bear witness about me that the Father has sent me.”
Jesus’ works—his signs and miracles and wonders—testify that he is the Son of God.
John is a witness, and Jesus’ works are a witness. There’s a third witness: The Father himself adds his testimony to the truth about who Jesus is. Verses 37 to 47.
The Father bears witness about Jesus throughout the whole of the Scriptures. 2 Tim 3:16 says, “All Scripture is breathed out by God.” Jesus tells these men in verse 39 that the Scriptures do not give life—they bear witness about Jesus. He is the One who gives life. It is not just the New Testament, written shortly after Jesus earthly ministry, that tells about Jesus. Even Moses (who wrote the first five books of the Bible centuries before Christ was born) wrote of him. From Genesis to Revelation, God’s story of sending One who would redeem mankind is revealed.
We need to get our friends to the Scriptures, don’t we? We need to get the Scriptures out to the nations of the world. They bear witness about Jesus. They tell how to have eternal life. We can helpfully tell our testimonies about Jesus, but the Holy Spirit uses the Scriptures to save sinners: They are able to make one wise for salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.
John and I went on a trip to Turkey a couple years before we moved to Dubai and met a man named Uuger. He told us his story of searching for the truth. He was in Istanbul for university and had become disillusioned with Islam. He read every holy book he could get his hands on because he wanted to find the truth. Finally, another Muslim friend suggested he read the Bible. Bibles were hard to find, but he ordered one off the internet. He said that as he began reading, “The truth jumped off the page at him, and the truth was a person, Jesus Christ.” Uuger became a Christian and led others to Christ, reading the Scriptures with them. He knew the power of the Word of God. It was the word that testified to the Lord.
John the Baptist, Jesus’ works and God the Father all testify to Jesus as Lord.
In John 5, we have seen A Sign, we have seen The Son, and we have seen Three Witnesses. This passage shows us, as CS Lewis said, we really only have three options for who Jesus is: He was a madman… He was a devil… Or he is Lord and God.