A Voice of Authority

July 18th, 2010 Apostle’s Creed Series 12 John 5:18-30 

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 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 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.

25 “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.

26 For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself.

27 And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man.

28 Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice

29 and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.

30 “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.[1]

This morning we are back into our series on the Apostle’s Creed. The Creed unites the Christian world in a communion of faith producing spiritual fellowship among those who believe.

This creed was not written by one Apostle, but rather it is a compilation of the baptismal formulas of the Apostles. It’s weight and authority are found in its usefulness for in it are all the central doctrines that keep churches healthy throughout the ages.

This morning we will seek God’s wisdom to know what is meant that Jesus shall come to judge the quick and the dead. Jesus shall come to judge the living and the dead. Everyone who has ever lived will one day be judged by Jesus who was alive, died, but is now alive forever more.

I included verse 18 because it reminds us that there is an important context for verse 19 and following. Jesus healed a man on the Sabbath. This made the religious leaders angry for Jesus worked on the day of rest. But what pushed them over the edge was that Jesus spoke and acted like God was no better than Him, like He would never be judged by God, and that He had the sole right to interpret the words of God in the Bible. He made Himself out to be equal with God.

Jesus claimed He was a child of God according to His own merit and according to the glory of His own righteousness. He was not a child by adoption, but the Son by right.

In verse 19 Jesus shines the light on that unique position He holds as the only Begotten Son of God. “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.

That’s an amazing claim. I have 3 sons and a daughter. None of my children do everything I direct them to do. They act independent all the time. In the last 30 minutes before we come to church my wife and I feel like we are going to lose our religion just getting them dressed and in the car. Jesus claims He does everything perfectly. That would require a unique connection between parent and child.

In the context of this passage Jesus claimed that the Father led Him to break the Sabbath and heal the man. That’s Jesus’ excuse for working on the day of rest. These religious leaders thought they had heard every excuse in the book, but this was the most audacious. Either Jesus was the Son of God and equal with God so that He had the right to be Lord over the Sabbath and change Moses’ laws as He saw fit, or He was delusional and a blasphemer.

Often in the Gospels Jesus claimed to speak for the Father as the Only Begotten Son of God. For generations the Jews had taught the sacrificial system of Moses and the laws of their religion. Now a greater prophet than Moses was speaking and they should have listened to His words.

Jesus claims a symbiotic relationship between the Father and the Son. A perfect communion. Like a hand in the glove; they are working the same thing.

Incidentally, this connection between Jesus and the Father is available to us by the Holy Spirit. The June 13th sermon covered that in detail.

The beginning of verse 20 is an amazing claim that God the Father holds no secrets from Jesus. Furthermore, if they failed to marvel at the miracle of healing the man born lame, then they would be given another opportunity to marvel when Jesus resurrects the body of every person who has ever lived that they might stand before Him and be judged. That’s in verse 25 and 28.

Jesus healed one man so that he could stand and they failed to marvel. They will be forced to marvel when He resurrects every soul to stand at the judgment.

Verse 21, as the Father can breathe into the body of Adam and create a living soul, so the Son can give life to whomever He wishes. It is His decision based on His good pleasure. Mankind is responsible according to God’s commands to come, to repent, to believe in Jesus and walk in the light, but our obedience isn’t working merit with God so that He owes us life.

Life is His gift and He gives it to whomever He wills. This decision of life or death is the ultimate decision. Our greatest concern ought to be for the salvation of our soul. We could gain the whole world, but if we loose our soul we gained nothing.

And the One who holds the keys to our heaven or hell is none other than the One we have offended. This should really concern us. Our transgressions put Jesus on the tree. The responsibility for His shed blood is upon us and our children’s children. Now this same Jesus holds resurrection power over death and hell and He alone decides if we live or if we die.

That’s troubling on multiple levels. The Jews hated Jesus that He claimed to have the right to declare their eternal destiny. I think that without God’s grace I would feel the same way.

The Jews assumed that God the Father held the right to judge others and that He would be impressed by religious fanaticism, church attendance and Bible knowledge.

People still hope that today. In today’s culture there is a marketing slogan, “Only God can judge me.” It is popular to have this slogan tattooed on one’s body and I’ve seen it used as a cell phone screen saver. People like this slogan because it reminds others not to judge them. The Jews would have liked this slogan because they really thought that they had God wrapped around their little finger. They were the children of Abraham. They obeyed the Mosaic laws better than the Romans. Surely as the chosen people they would rule with the Father and judge the nations.

That’s why verse 22 upset them so much.  The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son. The religious nuts don’t decide who goes to heaven! Jesus does.

It’s like calling your insurance company and hearing the recorded voice say, “please listen carefully as our menu has changed. To please God, please defer all questions to Jesus. To honor God please honor Jesus. To worship God please worship Jesus.”

The 1st century religious leaders didn’t worry about what the Greeks thought of their feasts, their sacrifices, their religious laws and funny Jewish clothes. In their mind they were honoring the Father with these peculiar religious habits and in the future they would lord over the heathen.

But verse 23 says that the Father isn’t the one you need to honor with your religious habits. If you want to honor the Father you have to now honor the Son. The menu items have changed.  There’s a new standard, a new secret handshake. Jesus changed the password and unless you know it you won’t get in.

But God doesn’t want to keep the door to heaven a secret. Verse 24 is going to give us the key to eternal life. Verse 24 is like a college teacher stomping the floor to get us to write down a question and answer we will later see on the final exam.

Before I re-read verse 24, what do you think will get you to heaven? Is it handing out 10,000 copies of the Gideon Bible during your lifetime? Is it never drinking a drop of liquor? Is it going to church, reading your Bible and praying every day? Will that make you good enough to pass the test to go to heaven? What’s the standard? How do you get past the pearly gates?

Verse 24 tells us. Stomp, stomp — 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.

Hearing the words of Jesus and believing on the Father who sent the Son will take your feet off the path of destruction and judgment and place your feet on the path of eternal life. Believe. That’s the answer.

Going deeper, what word from Jesus should we believe that we might have life? How about the first sermon Jesus ever preached that we need to repent for the kingdom of heaven is near? How about the word to the woman caught in adultery that we should go and sin no more? This whole book is written in the red blood of Christ. When we seek it like we are searching for gold and hidden treasure we honor the Son and glorify the Father. We need to hear it’s truths and believe in the One it reveals. The Bible helps us to marvel at the glory of Jesus.

Even if we never get the strength to stand, even if we stay unwilling to believe in Jesus, we will one day be forced to marvel.

For there is an hour coming . . . Jesus tells us an absolute truth that is true, true. There is a day coming when the Son of Man will speak and move with the full power and authority of the Son of God. (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18)  the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words.

The return of Jesus is a great encouragement for us who believe and honor the Son.           His return is terror for those who disrespect Him.

The same voice that thundered to give strength and life to dead legs in the body of the man at the pool of Bethesda will thunder again and give life to every pair of legs that ever lived to once again stand.

The voice will not be name specific. Jesus will not say, “Lazarus – come forth!” When Jesus raised Jarius’ daughter he addressed her personally. When Jesus raised the widow’s son he addressed him personally.

But when Jesus comes back to reign He will speak with authority and power saying, “Arise!” and every soul will come forth. Every soul will stand before the Son of God that they might be judged according to their works.

And the first work God will check to see that we did with all our heart and all our soul –John 6:28-29 Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” 29 Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.”

We must believe. John 5:24 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.

The Bible teaches that you do not get credit for believing in “God” unless you believe in the God who sent Jesus. Our faith is Jesus focused. No disrespect to other religions, but if they do not honor the Son then the Father has no respect for their religious teachings or commitments. Those who honor and respect the Son by faith and a Godly life will pass the judgment.

Our eternal destiny is decided by Jesus. He alone has the voice of authority to call us out of spiritual deadness to spiritual life. He alone can strengthen spiritual legs to walk in holiness before God the Father.

No other deity has every walked in the shoes of humanity like Jesus. As the Son of Man He is perfect for judging others. That’s why the Father has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man. (verse 27)

Are you prepared to stand before Jesus? Are you ready to bear the weight of your choices before a holy God? We will never be ready on our own. Only after our repentance will we be cleansed of our sin and able to stand before the righteous Lord Jesus.

May God give us the grace to believe. Amen.

[1] The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

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