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John 5(2a)

February 11th, 2018

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.


John5:18 -24

18 For this reason they tried all the more to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.

They could see and hear this in the way he spoke about God as his Father. And evidently there were sufficient indications in what he said and the way he said it that they thought, This is over the top. This man really is treating himself as equal with God in the way he talks about God.

19 Jesus gave them this answer: ‘Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. 20 For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does.

Jesus lets it stand – he doesn’t deny it. Then he begins to unpack its implications. He says that the Son doesn’t—indeed the Son can’t—go his own way but stays in perfect step with the Father. They share all things.

In a wonderful way Jesus is describing the goal of our salvation: obedient sons and daughters. The human Son of God is pioneering a new humanity.

When the Father acts, Jesus acts. This is the sort of thing the Jews heard Jesus say. And they concluded rightly:

You talk like you’re equal with him. You talk as if for him to act is for you to act—as if there is some kind of essential connection or union.

This is something Jesus always had with his Father. A oneness beyond our understanding. But he wants us through him to know of this oneness.

So whatever Jesus does is what God does. If he shows compassion, it is God showing compassion. If he speaks, it is God speaking. If he works on the Sabbath, it is God working on the Sabbath. There is no difference.

To know Jesus is to know the Father.

But we human beings have a sin problem. It distorts us. We are meant to bear God’s image : to love God with all our hearts and minds and our neighbour as ourself. We fall so short of that.

Somehow God has to rescue us firstly from the results of sin: the condemnation and secondly the hold sin has over our behaviour. He wants us to be responsive like Jesus to the Father’s will.

Salvation must be total to be effective. We have to be remade – become new. Otherwise we just given a fresh start to do all over again what we did before. When Jesus asked the invalid do you want to be well – he meant well completely, spiritually not just physically.

It has to be so complete that all of God has to be involved all of the time. It is a work –a very difficult work. Not something we achieve.

Who can be saved. With us it is impossible, but with God all things are possible.

The Father initiated the plan, the Son of God carried out key steps in the plan, and the Holy Spirit also has an ongoing role in the change that we all need.

But we shouldn’t think that these are past tense roles or separated roles. This is an all of life of continual shared purpose. God – as Father, Son and Holy Spirit – is 100% working for our salvation full time.

That’s how big salvation is.

We live and pray to the Father in the Son through the Holy Spirit. We were baptized into that one name. We live every day in this.

True worship points us to this life of oneness of the Father and Son in the Spirit.

God wants us to really be his children in a way that is like Jesus’ own human sonship.

And this sonship was really offensive to the Temple authorities. He implied an intimacy that in a very real sense bypassed their control and authority.

Yes, and he (The Father) will show him (the Son) even greater works than these, so that you will be amazed.
21 For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it. 22 Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son,

This is talking about the man Jesus, in our humanity, entrusted to all this.

Does the Father just step aside and leave it to the Son?

It can’t mean the Son doesn’t see the Father judging but goes ahead and judges anyway.

What does it mean for us?

The Son, not the Father, is the frontline, historical standard of who comes into judgment. That’s the point of

23 that all may honour the Son just as they honour the Father. Whoever does not honour the Son does not honour the Father, who sent him.

In other words, whether God is dishonoured with the effect that judgment falls is determined by the frontline, historical person of Jesus. If people honour him for who he really is, then God the Father is honoured for who he really is. So in that sense, all judgment is given to the Son. What people make of him decides their final judgment.

But that’s because what they make of him ultimately is what they make of God.

The Father is not the frontline, historical measure of judgment, but is in perfect step with the Son’s judgment because the one who does not honour the Son does not honour the Father.

This has two implications.

The test of whether anyone has a true worshipful relationship with God is: Do they honour Jesus for who he really is—as the divine Son of God, the Messiah, the crucified and risen Saviour of the world, the Lord of the universe and Judge of all human beings?

If they don’t, then they don’t honour God. That’s the first implication.

The second is in

24 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life.

If we hear the message of Jesus —not just some selected or distorted part of it—and, if through that message and that person, we come to trust God as the one who sent him for our salvation, two amazing things happen.

1) We not only will have eternal life, but we already have it,
And eternal life is clearly defined in John17:7
3 Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.

And 2) He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.

We will not come into the judgment of condemnation. We have already passed through judgment and are safe on the other side.

We live in the freedom of the children of God because God’s love for us drives out fear.

When we are united to him by faith, his death becomes our death, and his crucifixion our crucifixion, and his curse on the cross our curse on the cross, and his resurrection our resurrection. We have already “passed from death to life”! This is glorious news beyond all words.

So the first main issue in this text is the man’s healing and its purpose to lead the man to holiness.
And the second main issue in this text is the way the Father and the Son are one so that when one is acting the other is acting

With the two implications that if we don’t honour the Son, we don’t honour the Father. And if we believe on the Father through the word of Jesus, we have already passed from death to life and are on the other side of condemnation.

Message for the Day

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