So, I guess it was around February or March of this year when something happened in my life that I’m not proud of. First, I want to say, I am a good driver. No matter what Lauryn tells you, or anyone else, I am a very good driver. But sometimes I trust my gut and my senses to determine what an appropriate speed might be, as opposed to paying attention to speed limit signs. So, earlier this year, I got two speeding tickets within 9 days of each other. Two. To be fair, I hadn’t gotten one in a few years, thank you. But one was on 150, just as you get into Grandview, going west The other was on 291, just a mile from here, going north. Again, I was going a speed that I naturally felt was appropriate and safe. But it didn’t matter. Both officers gave me tickets, and both were gracious in putting down that I was only going 0-5 miles per hour over the speed limit. Now, why did I get two tickets? Because sometimes, especially in Greenwood, I don’t like having to follow the speed limit.
This is part of the human condition. Not getting speeding tickets, but disliking authority, unless that authority just happens to fit my preferences. I don’t naturally like that I got these tickets, even though I deserved them, because I thought I was going a safe speed. We don’t naturally like authority. In fact, that’s the very reason for the Fall, is it not? God is God, that’s who He is. I am human, that’s who I am. But I don’t like being limited in what I can do, even if those limitations make sense and fit within my identity as a human being. I don’t like it!
We can all probably relate to this. Ideally, we all would work for ourselves and do whatever we please and never have any responsibilities or obligations or authority other than what we choose for ourselves at any given moment. Really, the only way for that to even happen would mean living on your own little planet, by yourself (because if other people were there you would have limitations on doing whatever you wanted to do), and you’d have to have supernatural powers, basically be God, so that you wouldn’t have to rely on anyone but yourself. That’s the only way no authority whatsoever would work. And even then, it wouldn’t work. You know why? Because that little planet we live on by all by ourselves— we would destroy it. We don’t have the competence to run our own world with no authority or dominion over us. But, even so, we seem to think that would be ideal. The problem is not only that that’s just not the way it is, but also because that’s not actually best. That wouldn’t be best, even for us.
In John 5, Jesus claims an authority beyond anything you or I can even grasp. He says things in John 5, about his authority and dominion, that are extreme. He’s back in Jerusalem, apparently for a feast, and he heals a man, which is what gets him into this conversation with the Jews about who he is and what kind of authority he’s claiming to have. So that’s what we’re about to read.
And as we get into the text and talk about it, I want each of us to be asking this question: “Do I gladly submit to the authority and dominion of Jesus in every aspect of my life?” That’s the question. “Do I gladly submit to the authority and dominion of Jesus in every aspect of my life?” Have that question in mind as we read John 5:1-29. Amy Connell is going to read this for us. And be sure and pay attention, and try and follow along, especially because it’s a bit longer of a text than we normally read.
After this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
2 Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Aramaic called Bethesda, which has five roofed colonnades. 3 In these lay a multitude of invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed. 5 One man was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?” 7 The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me.” 8 Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.” 9 And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked.
Now that day was the Sabbath. 10 So the Jewssaid to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath, and it is not lawful for you to take up your bed.” 11 But he answered them, “The man who healed me, that man said to me, ‘Take up your bed, and walk.’” 12 They asked him, “Who is the man who said to you, ‘Take up your bed and walk’?” 13 Now the man who had been healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, as there was a crowd in the place. 14 Afterward Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, “See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you.” 15 The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had healed him. 16 And this was why the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because he was doing these things on the Sabbath. 17 But Jesus answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I am working.”
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 For 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.
Thank you, Amy. So you can see where we’re headed, from this healing that Jesus performed, and the conversation afterwards between him and the Jews, we will see 8 reasons why Jesus rules. And yes, I mean that in a literal sense—why He rules, as in he reigns, but then even in the slang sense—why he RULES. You know: Jesus rules, the Devil drools. That kind-of thing. And I want you to see this as a crescendo. Jesus is about to say a lot of things about himself. Many different truths. And it seems like he starts, generally, with less extreme claims, then grows and grows to the most extreme claims. So, the first reason why Jesus rules:
- He is Lord over sickness(1-9).
We just saw that Jesus healed a man who had been paralyzed or extremely weak—we’re not told exactly what his illness is—for 38 years. He walked up to this man and asked, “Do you want to be healed?” Then the man answered that he had no one to help him get in the water, and even when he got close, someone always got in before him.
That may seem like an odd response, but the reason he answered like that was because there was this popular idea that the Bethesda pools had supernatural powers. The first person in the water after it was stirred, could be healed. In fact, if you look at your Bible and look for verse 4, it might be missing. If you’re using the ESV, like I am, there is no verse 4! Did they just miscount when they designate verses in the 16thcentury? No, in some translations this verse is left out because it’s only reflected in certain manuscripts, generally later ones.
The verse that is there in some manuscripts, is says this (and if you have the New American Standard, it’s actually not left out, it’s there): “for an angel of the Lord went down at certain seasons into the pool and stirred up the water; whoever then first, after the stirring up of the water, stepped in was made well from whatever disease with which he was afflicted.” So, without getting into a big discussion about whether or not this verse belongs in the Bible: either way, apparently this man thought he could be healed if he got in first after the water stirred.
So, after he told Jesus this, that no one had been able to help him, Jesus wasted no time, said nothing else, but got right to the healing: “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.” And then, verse 9: “And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked.” Praise the Lord, yes? I want every miraculous sign we see in John in the coming months to be a moment of praise, because we serve a God that is not limited as we are limited. He is Lord over sickness, praise the Lord?
It seems that the main reason he performed this miracle was not only to spark the conversation he’s about to have with the Jews, but also simply to show that He is not limited by sickness! He healed this man, simply because he wanted to, not because this man had faith! I think that’s worth noting here. There is no faith in this man that we know of, the text says nothing about faith. So, Jesus heals this man simply because he wants to. And notice, he is completely healed! Not partially, feeling a bit better. He immediate gets up, takes his bed, and walks. He is Lord over sickness.
Now, this healing isn’t what catches the Jews’ attention. It was the healed man carrying his bed on the Sabbath! In Jewish law, specifically in the Mishnah, the Jews tried to explain and expound on Old Testament commands, including the Sabbath. On the day of rest, there were 39 categories of work that were not allowed, and one of them was carrying an item from one place to another.
So when they tell this man that he can’t carry his bed, because it’s the Sabbath, the man immediately blames Jesus! Verse 11: “He answered them, ‘The man who healed me, that man said to me, ‘Take up your bed, and walk.’’” And so, of course, the Jews are curious: “Who is this man who told you you could break the Sabbath?” The man couldn’t answer, because apparently he forgot Jesus’ name, or maybe he just didn’t know it. So, he couldn’t give the Jews his name, until Jesus later found the man and talked with him. So after talking with Jesus, the man went back to the Jews and told them it was Jesus who had healed him and told him to carry his mat.
Then, verses 16 and 17 say that this was why the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because he was doing these things on the Sabbath. So Jesus, knowing what they were thinking, answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I am working.” Jesus is beginning to do and say things that clarify who He is. In that last statement, he reveals to us the 2ndreason why Jesus rules:
- He is Lord of the Sabbath (10-17).
Jesus, himself, like God, is Lord of the Sabbath. That’s why he says, “My Father is working until now, and I am working.” There was this big discussion among Jews in the first century about whether or not God kept the Sabbath. You may remember that after the six days of creation, on the seventh day he rested from his creative work. So, the question was, Does God keep the Sabbath? Does he rest from all work once a week? We know from history that there was a lot of discussion and arguing about this question. God doesn’t break the Law, but if He obeys the Sabbath, wouldn’t everything just crumble? The one thing that pretty much everyone agreed on was that God works continuously. Whether he is breaking Sabbath law or not was debated, but they all pretty much agreed that he was always at work, his providence and sustaining work.
So, Jesus here is applying that same truth to himself. My Father is always at work, and I am always at work. He is above this moral law given to human beings. Why? Because He is Lord of the Sabbath. He doesn’t even debate the Jews’ wrong interpretation of the Sabbath law, all the detailed rules that the Jews used to specify what was meant by Old Testament law. He doesn’t debate that! He just jumps to: I have the authority to heal on the Sabbath, and of course, I have the authority to tell someone to carry their mat on the Sabbath.
And this is when the Jews realize, “Wait a minute! You’re implying something more here. You’re not just claiming that you’re allowed to tell someone to break this one law.” What was he implying? Why were they getting more and more angry at him? Verses 18 and 19: “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.” The third reason Jesus rules:
- He is one with the Father (18-19).
He is one with the Father. Do you see the crescendo starting to get bigger? Verse 16: the Jews were seeking to persecute him. Now, verse 18: they are seeking all the more to kill him! In their eyes, he’s blaspheming, claiming to be one with the Father. Claiming to be God! And, honestly, we might give the Jews a least a small break here. It was a pagan idea to eradicate the distinction between the human and the divine. God is higher and holy. How dare you claim rights that belong only to God! Jesus is challenging this distinction between God and man, at least to an extent.
Now this is where it gets a little tricky, because Jesus is not only one with the Father; he is also distinct from the Father. Somehow, in some way. They are one, and yet they are distinct. He clarifies in verse 19: “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.” Now, we could spend a whole Sunday talking about this. But, let me just say this: Jesus is equal with the Father, but it’s not like he’s anotherGodwho might competewith the Father. He’s one with the Father, and yet, functionally, he is subordinate to the Father. That might be a good blog post for this week. I’ll think about that.
But, even with some clarification here from Jesus, there is no confusion with the Jews in understanding that he is claiming equality with God. That’s why I still can’t get over those today that say, “Well, Jesus himself never claimed to be God.” Of course he did! That’s why he was crucified. And he reveals it more and more here. Let’s keep going with this crescendo. Why Jesus rules, #4:
- He perceives God’s hand in all things (20).
Verse 20, I love this: “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.” Jesus, because he is one with the Father, has unique insight into all things God is doing! He’s there at the table. And he’s saying there’s much more to come! So now Jesus is claiming to have knowledge far beyond what these Jews have, and what any human being has! Pretty big claim. Let’s keep going. Number 5:
- He gives life (21, 24-26).
Verse 21, to start: “For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will.” I just wish I could see their faces listening to Jesus say this. He expounds further in verses 24-26. Look there: “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.” This crescendo won’t stop, will it?
He gives spiritual life, just as the Father gives life. He says his own voice has the power to bring life. Those that hear and heed his voice, the voice of the Son of God, they will live. How? Because Jesus himself has the power to give life. None of us have that power! None of the Jews listening have that power! A paralyzed man can’t just decide on his own to stand up and be healed. In the same way, a dead man can’t just decide to no longer be dead, come back to life! That’d be zombie-world, right? Only God can do this! Jesus is claiming this power. By his word. To the lame man: “Stand up, take your bed, and walk!” Even more marvelous, to the dead man, you and me: “Hear my voice, rise up, and LIVE!” He gives life. Number 6:
- He judges (22, 27).
Verse 22, to start: “For the Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son.” And then, verse 27: “And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man.” So, Jesus is judge. Now, this might seem a little odd, if you remember back to chapter 3. John 3:17 in particular: “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” The word for “condemn” is the same root word for “judge.” So, if God sent Jesus not to judge, but to save, why is Jesus now saying that God has given him all authority to judge? There’s a simple explanation: While God sent Jesus primarily to save the world, that was his primary purpose in coming, that doesn’t mean that Jesus will not judge. We still will all face Jesus as judge—in fact, that will be his primary reason for coming the 2ndtime. So, that’s how that works out. Jesus judges, even if that’s main reason God sent Him the first time. Again, the crescendo continues. He’s placing himself as judge even over against these Jews who know the Law so well. Reason #7 that Jesus rules, and these last two are when it really comes to a head:
- He is worthy of all honor(23).
Verse 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.” This is when it all comes to a point, especially for the Jews listening. They believe they are the ones who honor the Father by their strict obedience of the Law, especially their particular interpretation of the Law. And now Jesus is saying, you don’t honor the Father, unless you honor me. Not only does Jesus do what the Father does. But Jesus is to be honored and glorified just like the Father is honored and glorified! For a man to claim this is a big deal. And lastly, and to finish the crescendo:
- He gives salvation(28-29).
Verses 28-29: “Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.” Earlier in verse 24, he says whoever believes in me has eternal life. That is something we receive now, and yet, this salvation, this eternal life isn’t fully consummated until the last resurrection. You can read Revelation 20 and see that when Jesus returns again, at the sound of his voice all people will rise from the dead, and some will rise to the resurrection of life, and some to the resurrection of judgment.
And don’t confuse his language here in verse 29. He’s not advocating for a works-based salvation, “Do good and be saved.” We know, especially from the gospel of John, that it is belief in Jesus alone that saves. The reason he brings doing good and doing evil into the picture is because those are things that characterize either the life of one who has believed in Jesus, or the life the one who has rejected Jesus. In fact, just a chapter later, in John 6:29, Jesus explicitly states: “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” So, don’t confuse that.
Jesus gives salvation. Jesus saves. That is the ultimate claim to authority. Man has no power to save himself. It is impossible, because we are all guilty. We’re all lawbreakers! But Jesus is not a MERE man. He is God in the flesh. The perfect Lamb of God, the mediator between God and man. Jesus can save, because he had no sin in himself for which to pay. But Jesus died anyway, as our substitute, and he rose from the dead. At this point in John, we’re not there yet. We haven’t gotten to his death and resurrection. But he’s already acting like and claiming to be the God-man.
So, we see all of this, we see the unfathomable authority of Jesus. He rules all things. He was there at Creation, and was the agent of creation. He is Lord over sickness, the Sabbath, is One with the Father, he gives life, is worthy of all honor, and he saves as only God can save. Can I just say this, for you and me, today in the 21stcentury: We don’t want to be rulers of our own lives. We may think we do, but we’re blind. If we saw reality, we wouldn’t. We have an infinitely greater alternative: Letting Jesus rule every aspect of our lives.
And so we return to the question I brought up earlier, the question I wanted all of us to ask ourselves: Do I gladly submit to the authority and dominion of Jesus in every aspect of my life? Thinking our own world where we’re really in control would be best, it makes no sense. We think that that kind of freedom is truly freeing. The freedom to do whatever we please, when in fact true freedom is found in doing as the Father pleases— Doing what we were made to do; Being who we were made to be.
Thinking we are better off running our own little world— it reminds me of doing something in a primitive way, but being convinced that that’s the best and only way there is. And just being perfectly content with that. That’s what this reminds me of. Like growing up, my mom made the best stu. So good. Just the best in the world. And when I got to college, I barely knew how to boil water to make Ramen. Literally, barely knew. And so at some point I tried to make my mom’s stu, and at first I knew something was off, but as I made it more and more, I kind-of became proud of it. I convinced myself that it was either my mom’s stu, or it was even better. I was perfectly content with my stu.
Lauryn was the first to make me realize that I was missing a few things. I was basically putting chunks of steak in water and boiling it and eating it. That was it: Ryan’s stu. Boiled steak was, basically, what I was eating. I eventually figured out some other things to put in, like vegetables and salt and pepper. But I had convinced myself that this pot of boiled chunks of steak was my mom’s stu, or something even better. I remember well the first time I had my mom’s stu after that. I clearly had forgotten. I wasn’t even aware of what I was missing in making my own version.
When it comes to the authority of Jesus, we don’t even know what we’re missing when we don’t give him complete dominion over our lives. Instead, we’re creating our own little world, and convincing ourselves that we know what’s best. We don’t even know what we’re missing.
There is something infinitely better than you or me having control. It’s gladly submitting to the one who is truly in control. The one who truly reigns, who truly does know what is best for us.
Submitting to his absolute authority in every aspect of our lives is not only right, because of who Jesus is. It’s best for us, because of who Jesus is. Stop trusting in yourself to determine what is best. Look to Jesus. Open the Word, and gladly submit to his authority, seeing who he is—the benevolent ruler of all Creation.