I hope your enjoying reading through the Gospel of John, and I hope that you’re not just cruising through without giving thought to the wonderful things going on, being said, and being revealed. For example…
Equality with God — John 5:18
I never cease to wonder at the religious people who consider themselves Christians (thankfully their numbers are not terribly large) who will relegate Jesus to some status lower than God. Jesus as a rabbi, as an “adopted” son of God, or something else other than God is argued on the basis of the observation that Jesus only rarely claimed deity and then (they would argue) only indirectly. First, it’s important to know that Jesus wisely thought it better to demonstrate His divinity rather than merely claim it. But though we might think that Jesus was sometime a little too coy about His identity, Jesus’ contemporaries thought He was plenty plain enough — in this passage because He “was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God”. The divinity of Jesus was not a later theological development by later leaders. It was a claim made by both Jesus and the apostles — and by even more witnesses just below.
Two resurrections — John 5:25-29
But before we go on to the other witnesses, I just couldn’t pass up this great section about the two resurrections. “The time is coming,” Jesus said, “and NOW is, when the dead (you and me) will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.” This is different from the other resurrection He then talks about in v.28 — the general resurrection of all the dead, good and bad. What’s this first resurrection? Paul talks about it in Romans 6:4, 5 “Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection.” He speaks of baptism (see the context). It is not, of course, just about getting wet; notice that it includes of necessity a new kind of walk (way of living). But those who are so raised…Revelation 20:5 “Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years.” To attain to the resurrection of life (John 5:28) one must first be raised with Jesus in baptism. Have you?
Can I have a witness — or four? — Jn. 5:33-47
Jesus rightly points out (see the above paragraph on Jesus making claims to deity) that such claims would mean nothing, so here He points out the strong witnesses that will testify to the truth of His identity. First, there was John the Baptist. The general populace of Jesus’ day understood John to be a true prophet. Second, there were the works (signs and wonders) of Jesus — deeds that could only be produced by God, proving the unbelievable by doing the undeniable. Third, there was the witness of the word of the Father in the Scripture — a word, which sadly, although all the religious leaders said they believed, many did not believe really (faith is demonstrated by what we do or don’t do). Who do you believe He is? Do our deeds reflect what we say we believe?
Rejecting men’s purpose for Him — 6:15
Far from being a mere political king of the physical world, Jesus had no such intention or purpose. When men pressed Him to become their political king (primarily because He fed them), He rejected it and withdrew. Many Jews of His day expected such a worldly Messiah, but Jesus made it clear what His purpose was as He spoke to Pilate: (John 18:36) “Jesus answered, ‘My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.’” God has a grand, eternal purpose for man; man must not presume to impose his worldly, short-sighted purposes on God.
You have the words of eternal life — 6:67-68
Upon Jesus’ rejection of men’s purposes for Him by a number of “harding sayings” a substantial number left. Disappointed at men’s shallowness, Jesus then turned to His apostles and seems to even open the door for them to leave, too, if they wished. Happily, the apostles had a deeper understanding, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life…” Good point, good answer. How many times are we tempted to leave, when the Lord doesn’t “feed us” in some material or physical way as we had hoped or expected? In such situations Peter’s words need to come back to mind.
See you tomorrow, Lord willing.