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John5(2B)

February 27th, 2018
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We have been listening to the claims Jesus has made about he and his Father. They are one.

Thus the Father knows how we respond to Jesus is how we will respond to him. So there is no judgement separate from the Son. To be offended by Jesus or to dishonour Jesus is to reject the Father. There is no other conclusion.

And to believe in Jesus is to now have life – true life, eternal life. We are safe with him.

But now Jesus goes a bit further to explain how central to our resurrection he is.

John 5: 25(NIV)

Very truly I tell you, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live.

In what sense was the hour present when the dead would hear the voice of Jesus and live?

Jesus was showing in his ministry on the earth the sort of thing that would characterize the age to come. He cast out demons from some people on earth because there will be no demons in the age to come. He healed some sick people on earth because there will be no sickness in the age to come. And he raised three people from the dead because there will no death in the age to come.

In the Gospel of John, the hour is present when the dead hear and live because that is what happens to Lazarus in chapter 11. Lazarus has been dead four days. Jesus goes to see his grieving friends, Mary and Martha, Lazarus’ sisters. He says to Martha in John 11:23 “Your brother will rise again.”

And Martha says to him in verse 24, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.”

In other words, she agrees that the hour is coming when the dead will rise. But she doesn’t understand what Jesus meant when he said in John 5:25 that “an hour is coming, and is now here” when the dead will rise.

So Jesus says to her in John 11:25–26, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.”

In other words, the hour of resurrection is here. It’s here because I am here. And I am the resurrection and the life.

And then Jesus goes to the tomb of Lazarus, tells them to move the stone, and in John 11:43–44 it says, “He cried out with a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out.’ The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth.”

The hour is here because the mighty voice is here.

John5:25(ESV)

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.

We will rise from our grave just as surely and just as bodily but with a new body suited for the age to come and just as immediately as Lazarus did.

Jesus came into the world in advance of the last day, before the final judgment, to show who he was and what eternity in his presence will be like.

Jesus was showing in that hour what the last hour would be like. And he was revealing more of his glory—the glory of his sovereign voice over death. He commands and the command creates what it commands.

How can the Son  command the dead so that they live?

John5:26 -27(NIV)

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

The Father begets the Son eternally—there never was a time when there was no Son—and thus the Son is a perfect image of the Father. And in this case, the Son has life in himself just like the Father has life in himself.

He has it as source, not as channel. The life comes from the Son, not just through the Son.

So when we think of Jesus raising all the dead by his mighty voice, John wants us to think of him doing this by the power of divine life that he has in himself absolutely—the same way the Father has life in himself absolutely. Jesus is the way the truth and the life.

He doesn’t channel life. He is life.

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

We know that Son of Man can be a very exalted, even divine, title as used in the book of Daniel.

But it seems that here the emphasis falls on another qualification besides the exalted divine one. The judge of the universe, the one who raises them all from the dead and passes judgment on them must be a son of man, that is, must be a vulnerable human.

Recall what Paul said to the people on Mars Hill in Acts 17:31(ESV)

God has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.

So the judge of the world, in God’s reckoning, must be a son of man—human.

We need to grasp the significance of this.

Revelation 5:2-9

2 And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming in a loud voice, ‘Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?’ 3 But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth could open the scroll or even look inside it. 4 I wept and wept because no one was found who was worthy to open the scroll or look inside. 5 Then one of the elders said to me, ‘Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.’
6 Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing at the centre of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. The Lamb had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. 7 He went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who sat on the throne. 8 And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of God’s people. 9 And they sang a new song, saying:
‘You are worthy to take the scroll
    and to open its seals,
because you were slain,
    and with your blood you purchased for God
    persons from every tribe and language and people and nation.

In other words, God intends that the one who judges the world will have been a slain lamb, a crucified man.

The Lion of Judah must first be the Lamb of God. The judging Son of God at the last day must first be a suffering son of man.

And if we ask why must our judge be a man—a suffering man? The answer is that God sees it fitting that human beings be judged by one who knows what it’s like to be human. And not just human, but one who suffered to deliver the rest of us from condemnation.

The one who knows us to life or does not know us to death is a suffering Saviour.

The judge of all men will be able to look into every eye and say, “I too was tempted. I too suffered.

“I know you as one of mine or I don’t know you as one of mine.” This will be determined by our response to him.

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Message for the Day ,

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin

February 19th, 2018
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This year the Religious liberty prayer Bulletin has alerted Christians to the sufferings of believers in places such as Nigeria, Burma,Uganda, Syria.They encourage us to forward this prayer bulletin widely, and for others to sign up to the Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin blog. “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” (James 5:16 NIV).

For the latest reports please click here.

Prayers

John 5(2a)

February 11th, 2018
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Last week we saw Jesus has healed a man who had been an invalid for 38 years. But he did it on the Sabbath day!

John 5;15-17

15 The man went away and told the Jewish leaders that it was Jesus who had made him well.
16 So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jewish leaders began to persecute him.

They were the guardians of the Sabbath. They had the authority over holy matters. They determined what is appropriate or not.

The Temple authorities they control what is holy or not suitable in coming before God. This can lead to being very right in the prescriptions of the faith and has the danger of making people secondary to the religious authority.

We can strain at gnats and swallow camels.

They were forgetting a man had been healed after 38 years of hopeless suffering. Oh but he could have waited until the next day! Jesus had told a man to pick up his mat and walk on the Sabbath. Don’t rejoice over the healing – look for the technicality he has broken.

Religion can distort our knowledge of God. The God of freely given grace becomes contractual. If you do this I do that. And so we live in fear of breaking some rule rather than seeing who God really is towards us.

You could think worship was about us. How well we do it. But it is about the God revealed in Jesus Christ. He is worthy of our praise and trust because of who he is.

The Sabbath was not primarily about how well people observe it. It was about God and what they are remembering about him. What did Jesus want people of his day to learn about God from the Sabbath?

Listen to his defence.

17 In his defence Jesus said to them, ‘My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working.’

Lets reflect on the context of the discussion.

It is the Sabbath. As originally given it was to celebrate the end of God’s work of creation. That’s how it is stated in the 10 commandments in Exodus 20.

The Israelites rested like God after the 6 days of creation. What a blessing not to be a slave people working 24/7.
After the punishment of exile into Babylon the Jewish teachers constructed very elaborate rules about this rest. This was to make sure they didn’t become guilty again of breaking their covenant with God. They had a religious zeal for God, but without the knowledge what the whole thing was about. Their response to Jesus who was the very fulfillment of the law – its very purpose, showed this.

But there is another wording of the Sabbath command which we can overlooked in this story. It is how the Sabbath is restated before Israel entered the promised land

In Deuteronomy 5:15

15 Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the Lord your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the Lord your God has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day.

There are two major things here to think about.

The Sabbath here pictured God rescuing people from bondage. Thus Jesus argues from this idea of salvation work.

We have Jesus just seen rescuing an invalid of 38 years. This pictures salvation. He is rescued from what held him prisoner. He was powerless to save himself from his infirmity. But notice how Jesus warns him about sinning. This points to a greater healing. A greater deliverance. A greater rescue.

But Jesus is also making a very important point about his Father and himself and the work they are doing.

Genesis 2:1-2

1 Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array.
2 By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work.

So what is this other point Jesus is making?

My Father and I created a very good world, a paradise, and then we rested. Not that we were tired, but we stepped back as it were and enjoy the perfect display of our own glory revealed in our creative handiwork. That’s what Sabbath is for—the restful, focused, enjoyment of God and the beauty of his creation.

But then sin entered the world, and through sin came sickness and tragedy and death. And from that moment, my Father and I have been working again. We have been working—in many ways that you don’t understand—to restore a Sabbath paradise to the universe. We have been working to overcome sin and sickness and death.

Even your own law, which contains the Sabbath command, was part of our working to conquer sin and hold back the miseries of unrighteousness. It pointed you forward to a Messiah, a Saviour, who would come and perform the decisive acts of healing and change toward the new heavens and the new earth. The Sabbath was pointing to the rest we would have in this Messiah.

Jesus is saying “When I heal a man, and intentionally do it on the Sabbath, I am showing you something about myself. What was happening at the pool of Bethesda was that my Father and I were revealing the world that is coming. It is a world in which there will be no sickness and a world in which there will be no sin. My Father is working until now, and I am working.”

Isn’t that a wonderful thought. God’s work today is our salvation. The physical world is sustained but its is effectively completed with all the wisdom and freedom God gave it to function.

So when you look at the wonders that science keeps discovering, all of this was completed. The recent Australian of the year is working in quantum physics and seeking to apply this knowledge of how things work at this level to computers. But it is already there working. We don’t create this knowledge – we discover it and learn to work with it.

But Jesus is saying God didn’t retire. He didn’t just walk away from his creation to be no longer involved. His greatest and most difficult work was still to be done.

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Message for the Day