John 5 Devotional
by Pastor Mark Hudson
In John 5 we seen a healing story (vs. 1-17) and then a long discourse (vs. 18-47) where Jesus does all the talking. This second section is deep, profound, and clearly Christological. In the first section a man who has not been able to walk for 38 years is healed by Christ. This man believed that when the water stirred, the first person in the water would be healed. This appears to be a commonly held belief and a major obstacle for this individual who wanted to walk since he couldn’t move faster than others around the pool. With great compassion and by merely speaking, the Lords commands him to get up, take up your bed, and walk. And that is just what the man did.
Everyone is happy right? Not the religious leaders. They are mad as can be because Jesus did this (intentionally) on the Sabbath. But they have murder in their eyes because Jesus claimed to be God. These leaders had a culpable blindness. They were morally responsible for their sin. They knew better so were responsible.
Jesus has a long, clear, and direct response. He claims unequivocally to be God. He says He is the same as God, calling him “my Father” in verse 17. His use of the term “Son” is not how we think of a son. For Jesus, to be God’s Son is to be God, to be equal to God. The Westminster Confession of Faith summarizes the Bible’s teaching on Christ. “2. The Son of God, the second person in the Trinity, being very and eternal God, of one substance and equal with the Father, did, when the fullness of time was come, take upon him man’s nature, with all the essential properties, and common infirmities thereof, yet without sin; being conceived by the power of the Holy Ghost, in the womb of the virgin Mary, of her substance. So that two whole, perfect, and distinct natures, the Godhead and the manhood, were inseparably joined together in one person, without conversion, composition, or confusion. Which person is very God, and very man, yet one Christ, the only Mediator between God and man.
When the Jewish leaders looked at Christ, they did not see deity. They saw red! They hated Christ; what He did and what He said. Someone always wanted to kill the Lord Jesus starting out when He was a baby until the last day of His life when He was killed. Violence was never far away from our Lord. This extended discourse concerns His deity.
Christ claims to be one with the Father. Jesus claims to raise the dead in vs. 21, 24, 25. In v. 21, “For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to who he will.” Jesus claims to judge the world, “For the Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son” v. 22. Jesus claims eternal existence in v. 26, “For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son also to have life in Himself.” He also consistently throughout this chapter claims unity with God the Father in vs. 17, 19, 22, and 30. In v. 19, “the Son can do nothing on his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise.”
Christ then points to witnesses who affirm His deity. He calls upon John in vs. 33-35, his works in vs. 16, 18, and 36. He also includes Scripture in 39 with Moses as a subset of Scripture in vs. 45-46. But no witness is as important or massive as God the Father in vs. 37-38. No witness can ever matter as much as having God on your side. Verse 20 is ultimate, “For the Father loves the son. . . .”
Yet notice the response Christ is given. First, the religious leaders, instead of praising God and rejoicing with the invalid, want to kill our Lord. Then Jesus’ discourse exposes their rejection and guilty blindness. They are culpable for their moral blindness since it is obvious what was done and by Whom. But these leaders are like all of us prior to our conversion: we want what we want and anyone who stands in our way is asking for trouble.
The world has expressed their rejection in different ways but essentially the objections are similar. Christ is a joy stealer. Christ is not worthy of worship let alone respect. Christ is not God nor is He worthy of our attention. His words are not merely worthless but harmful. His church is full of bigots, ignorant and hateful people.
But for those of us who know Him, who have been called out of darkness by His power, He is the joy Giver, the Forgiver, the Healer, the life Giver, and the One who brings eternal life. And so we pray, Dear heavenly Father, You have opened our eyes by the power of Your Spirit. You give undeserving sinners forgiveness and life eternal as a free gift. Turn our rebellious hearts into soft, pliable, loving and obedient hearts that long to please You. Open our eyes to see Your glory and honor. In Christ’s name. Amen.