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By Rev Charles Seet

Preached at / Published Life BPC 10:45 am service, 2008-01-06

Text: John 5:18-30

Whenever we begin a New Year, we start thinking of what we want to do differently from the previous year, and or any needed changes that we should make. And so the subject of making New Year resolutions invariably comes to mind. Some of us may make resolutions like 'This year I will eat less, lose weight, and do more exercise.' Others will resolve to spend more time with family and friends, or be more organized, or get rid of some bad habits. 

But above all these resolutions, I would like to suggest that there is one resolution that is mandatory for all of us to make: It is the resolution to grow in our obedience to Christ and in our faith in Christ. This resolution is in line with our church theme for this year - which is 'Toward a growing and fruit-bearing Christian life.' If we make a resolution to grow in our obedience to Christ and in our faith in Christ, then we need to know how to go about doing this. It is one thing to make a resolution like this, but it is another thing altogether to actually follow it through. The only way to do this successfully is to know Jesus Christ well. Experience has shown that those who know their Lord and Saviour well are the ones who tend to obey Him. And those who know Him very well are also the ones who trust Him more. Dearly beloved, the more you know Christ through the Scriptures, the more you will love Him and live your life for Him. 

Our present series of sermons from John's Gospel will certainly help us to know Christ more. Since we started this series last year, we have already covered the first 4 chapters of John's Gospel. We have seen that He is the eternal Word of God, the divine logos who became flesh. We have seen John the Baptist identifying Him as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. We have seen Jesus manifesting His glory at a wedding by turning water into wine. We have seen Him burning with zeal for His father's house when he purified the Temple of all the money-making elements that had set up their business there. We have seen how He told a highly respected Jewish teacher that he must be born again to enter the kingdom of heaven.

We have seen Him ministering to the deepest needs of a Samaritan woman whom He happened to meet at a well. And in our last sermon which was on the first 18 verses of chapter 5 we have seen Jesus healing a paralysed man at a pool called Bethesda. This should have convinced the Jews that Jesus has the power of God in Him, but because He had done this on a Sabbath day, they chose to find fault in Him. This miracle of healing should have brought home to them the truth that Jesus is from God, and this in turn should have caused them to come to Him and find out in exactly what way Jesus is related to God. 

You may remember that earlier on, Nicodemus had come to Jesus because he had concluded on the basis of the great miracles Jesus performed that Jesus must be a teacher come from God (John 3:2 '...for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with Him.') As we look now at our scripture text of John 5:18-30 we see Him providing the Jews with a full explanation for the power that He has to perform the miracle of healing the paralysed man and also to do even greater works than that: It is because He is none other than the unique Son of God. 

This is one of the most profound passages in the Gospel of John. There are two main points we want to learn this morning: Firstly, Jesus can do greater works than anyone because His Sonship is unique in many ways. Secondly, we must give appropriate responses to the unique Sonship of Jesus. Let us consider the first point:

I. Jesus can do greater works because His Sonship is unique in many ways:

We observe in v.18 that when Jesus called God His Father, the Jews correctly recognized that He was claiming to be equal with God. But isn't it true that according to John 1:12 all of us who have received Christ have been given the right to be sons of God, and yet that does not make us equal with God? Well, in answer to that, we must distinguish the two kinds of sonship. We who have received Christ have become sons of God by adoption and God's work in us. But Christ's sonship is quite different from ours. He is not adopted, but already had a unique relationship with God the Father from eternity past. Let us consider 5 ways in which Jesus' Sonship is unique and different from ours. The first is that:

a. He is sent by the Father and is fully dependent on Him (vv.19, 30)

In v.19, Jesus said, 'Verily, verily I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He seeth the Father do: for what things soever He doeth, these also the doeth the Son likewise.' This thought is found again in v.30 'I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not Mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent Me.'

What Jesus is stating in these verses is that He does not act independently apart from the Father's will and purpose. It means that He goes about His Father's business, on His Father's behalf. He is the perfect agent of the divine purpose. You will notice that in v.30 Jesus says that He is sent by the Father. If you to count the number of times Jesus did this in just the Gospel of John alone, you will find that He claimed to be sent by the Father no less than 25 times! This means that God the Father has specially commissioned God the Son to go on His authority and execute His purposes in this world. Therefore anyone who receives the Son, receives the Father as well. Anyone who rejects the Son also rejects the Father. Let us now consider another way in which the sonship of Jesus is unique, and it is that: 

b. He is uniquely loved by the Father (v.20)

Let us look at v.20 'For the Father loveth the Son, and sheweth Him all things that Himself doeth: and he will show Him greater works than these, that ye may marvel.' What we can see here is that although Jesus always does everything that the Father wills, He does not do so like a slave or servant to God, nor as an employee or messenger of God, but rather as a privileged Son. A servant, slave or messenger never has the privilege of knowing why they are doing what they are told to do. But the Son has that privilege, because He is uniquely loved by His father. 

The Father reveals to the Son the whole purpose and plan of His whatever he does, much as the head of the family discusses with his own grown up sons the plans he wishes to carry out. And so the Son carries out the Father's purposes not with ignorance and compulsion, but with perfect understanding, with perfect agreement and also with perfect concern that His Father's work must succeed.

When we can understand how much Jesus is uniquely loved by the Father, we can then appreciate even more how much He loves us as well. Romans 5:8 brings out this wonderful truth when it says: 'But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.' John 3:16 says the same thing 'for God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son...'

Surely if the Father was willing to give the Son He loves so much, for our sake, it must mean that He loves us very dearly as well. What wonderful love God has for us! Let us now go on to look at the third way in which the sonship of Jesus is unique: 

c. He is empowered by the Father to raise up the dead (v.21, 28-29)

Look at v.21 'For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom He will.' The word 'quickeneth' in this verse means to make alive. The same thought is expressed in vv.28-29 'Marvel not at this; for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear His voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.'

Only God can raise the dead to life again. Jesus, as the unique Son of God can do the very same thing. When we come to chapter 11 in our study of John's Gospel, we will see Jesus raising His good friend Lazarus from the grave, after Lazarus had been dead and buried for 4 days. All that He did was to command with His voice, 'Lazarus, come forth!' and Lazarus became alive again. The way that Jesus raised him from the dead is exactly the same way in which Christ will one day raise all believers who have died in this world to life at His second coming. You could say that the resurrection of Lazarus was a foretaste or preview of that final great resurrection which Jesus will command. We go on now to consider the 4th way in which Jesus' sonship is unique, and that is that: 

d. Jesus is invested by the Father with the authority to judge (vv.22-23)

Look at vv.22-23 'For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son: that all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent Him.' According to these verses, Jesus shares the judicial and executive authority of God the Father. No human leader or judge on earth can rightfully claim such authority. The leaders and judges we have are elected and appointed from among ourselves, and we recognize them and respect them only because the state gives them authority. 

And although we respect them highly, we are also aware that they have limitations. They may sometimes make judgments and decisions that are biased or unjust. The quest for real justice is a never-ending quest because of this. A decision made by one court may sometimes be overturned by another, and even that does not guarantee that true justice has been served to all parties concerned. One example was the case of a drug user in Singapore who was sentenced to death for drug trafficking in 1995. The Court of Appeal overturned his death sentence on the grounds that his confession to the Central Narcotics Bureau had been made under duress. If his appeal had not been successful, an innocent man would have been executed. No system of law in any country in the world, not even the best system with the wisest and most learned judges can ever claim to be free of errors and miscarriages of justice.

But now we see the Son of God, our Lord Jesus, as a very different kind of judge. Every judgment He makes is consistent and tempered with mercy. But every judgment He makes is also just and fair, for He judges not only the outward acts of people but also the thoughts and motives of every man's mind and heart as well. When Jesus sits as judge, there will be no unsolved cases in His court. His decisions will be final and no appeal will ever be necessary. 

The whole world is longing for the day when there will be real justice in this world: When the guilty will be found and convicted, and the innocent will not be penalised for crimes they did not commit. Well, that day may be coming soon, by the second coming of Christ into this world, when He will subdue all nations and rule over them with an iron will. Now we move on to the fifth way in which Christ's sonship is unique, and that is that: 

e. He is made the source of life by the Father (vv.24-26)

Let us look at vv.24-26 'Verily, verily I say unto you, He that heareth My word, and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death to life. Verily, verily I say unto you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live. For as the Father hath life in Himself; so hath He given to the Son to have life in Himself.' 

None of us here can rightfully claim to have life in ourselves. We do not possess inherent life within us, as the life we have is actually not from ourselves, but derived from others. We derived our life from our parents at the moment when we were conceived. But the Son of God is different. He does not derive life from anyone, just as God derives life from no one. Jesus possesses inherent life. 

Within His very own being, Jesus has the power to create life, the power to renew life, and the power to give eternal life to anyone He wills. In fact Jesus is life itself, for He said in John 14:6 'I am the way the Truth and the Life, No man cometh unto the Father but by Me.' In John 11:25, He also said, 'I am the resurrection and the Life. He that believeth in Me, though He were dead, yet shall He live.'

And Jesus will give life to anyone who will just come to Him and receive it from Him by faith. In John 10:10 He said, 'I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.' Jesus came to give life. He is the Life-giver. But the sad thing we see today is that many people are looking for life in all the wrong places, and therefore they fail to find it. There are many who think they can find life by having successful businesses, big houses, expensive entertainment, gifted children, and maids to take care of them. They dream of the day when they can enjoy all these things and say, 'Ah, this is the life!' But they are deceived to think that life can be found in these things. In Luke 12:15 Jesus said that 'a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesses.'

How sad it is to see so many who have not found life, because they have not come to the Jesus, the Giver of life, and responded to His offer of eternal life. Some of them have even refused to come and find life in Him, because, like the Jews in our passage, they have allowed some small trivial matter to come between them and Christ. This may be some unanswered question like, 'Why does God allow so many innocent people to suffer and die?' or 'Why is there only one way of salvation?'

The question that this study today poses for all of us is: When you know who Jesus is, that He is truly the unique Son of God, do you give the appropriate responses to Him? What kind of responses then is appropriate? This passage suggests three responses, and they are listed in your outline as a, b and c. The first is: 

II. Therefore, we must give appropriate responses to the unique Sonship of Jesus:

a. By appreciating the greatness of His works (v.20)

We see this at the end of v.20 which states, 'that ye may marvel.' This should be our first and most basic response to knowing the unique Sonship of Jesus. The works of Jesus should evoke a response of wonder, worship and praise in our hearts, plus a desire to know Him and serve Him. We should not respond by making ourselves judges or critics over His works like the Jews did, because He did the miracle on their sacred Sabbath day.

And we who live today have even more reason to marvel than those Jews did, because we now have the record of all the works that He did, including the work of salvation He wrought on the Cross. As we read the Scriptures we behold far greater works that Jesus did than this miracle of healing the paralyzed man: like feeding the 5,000, calming the storm and most of all, His own resurrection from the dead. 

But more than that, we must marvel at the work He has done in our own lives. If you have experienced that wonderful grace of Jesus, and the joy of having your sins forgiven, and the assurance of life in heaven with Him, you have much to marvel. Never forget these things. Never lose that sense of wonder at all that Christ has done for you. Keep on reminding yourself of it. Then you will also want to respond in the two other ways that follow: The 2nd response is suggested in v.23 which says 'that all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father.' This response is: 

b. By giving Him the full honour He deserves (v.23)

Recently a TV advertisement for a well-known local supermarket made use of a familiar song with lyrics, 'You've got the whole world in your hands.' I think many of us would remember that the original lyrics of that song was, 'He's got the whole world in His hands' and that it described God's sovereignty over all things. By changing the pronoun from He to You, the advertisement has replaced God with the human consumer. Such is the trend in the world today - giving honour to man instead of God. But we who belong to Christ should give Him the honour because He deserves it.

To honour someone means to ascribe such great worth or value to Him that we become willing to render sincere respect, full allegiance and service to Him. If you want to honour Jesus, you must give Him first place in your life. The most important thing to you is to please Him. In whatever you do, whether it be in church or at home or in school or at work, your chief concern should be how you may glorify Christ in all that you do, in all that you speak and even in all that you think. To do anything less than that would be to dishonour Christ. A Christian who shows indifference to Christ in his daily life is really dishonouring Him. His singing, his praises and attendance and prayers in church on Sundays then become merely lip-service. The real measure of the honour you give to Christ is not the number of hymns you sing, or the number of Christian meetings you attend, but whether your life is characterised:

c. By Obeying and Believing His Word (v.24)

In v.24 Jesus says: 'He that heareth My Word and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.' This is the final acid test of a right response to knowing the unique sonship of Christ. How much do you obey the Word of Christ, and how much do you trust in Him?

Let us give some serious thought to whether we are giving the appropriate responses to the Lord Jesus Christ, for all that He should mean to us. If He is truly the unique Son of God, who is loved by the Father and given the right to judge the world, the power to raise the dead and the ability to give life, let us not be satisfied with our present responses to Him, until we fully appreciate the greatness of His works, give Him the honour He really deserves and live in full obedience and trust in Him. May the Lord help us to respond well.

Vision & Mission

 

To build a united church family that is committed to making disciples through Salvation, Sanctification and Service, to the glory of God.

Verse for the Week

October 15 & 22 - The Cost of Discipleship

For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. Matthew 16:25