You Are Nothing: John 5

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The John 5:1-15 study hit on some tough questions like, “Which version of the Bible is ‘better’?” I saw several comments and shares on Facebook and Instagram (and, some may have “unfollowed” me because I’m not a KJV-only kind of gal), so it seemed to be a topic that struck a nerve with some. Or, at least it generated a bit of “fellowship” at the dinner table.

Allow me to reiterate that I’m here to provide perspective—from a Biblical standpoint—and I’m certainly not perfect. I do think it’s important that we (respectfully) challenge our “beliefs” and ensure they fully align with the “whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27), and not just what we think or feel.

Regardless of the “topic,” let’s make sure we keep the main thing the main thing. I love the words we’re given in Isaiah 1:18,

“Come now, and let us reason together,”
Says the Lord,
“Though your sins are like scarlet,
They shall be as white as snow;
Though they are red like crimson,
They shall be as wool.

Falling in love with Jesus is the main thing, friends! Today, let’s practice taking up our mats and walking, just as Jesus instructed us to do last week in John 5:12. Faith mixed with action makes the impossible possible, and there’s plenty of action happening this week as we round out John chapter 5:

16 For this reason the Jews persecuted Jesus, and sought to kill Him, because He had done these things on the Sabbath. 17 But Jesus answered them, “My Father has been working until now, and I have been working.”

-          Jesus caused lots of hub-bub when He healed the man by the Pool of Bethesda. This miracle would’ve caused no other issue except the fact that it occurred on the Sabbath (there were 39 tasks which were prohibited on the Sabbath, based on Jewish law). Can you imagine people seeking to kill you because you helped them? If you’re not familiar with Voice of the Martyrs, it will humble you—especially when you read about those who have been affected by persecution. It includes families who have lost a loved one, had a family member imprisoned, lost their home, or been forced to relocate because of their faith in Christ Jesus.  Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:11, that those who are insulted, persecuted, or falsely accused are blessed. Hard to imagine, but stories like this will encourage you in your faith (tip: keep Kleenex nearby).

-          Notice Jesus’ response to those who wanted Him dead: “My Father has been working until now, and I have been working.” In other words, Jesus never stops. Take that to heart, beloved: He never ceases His work in your life. In fact, Philippians 1:6 tells us, “…being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ..”

18 Therefore the Jews sought all the more to kill Him, because He not only broke the Sabbath, but also said that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God. 19 Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner. 20 For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself does; and He will show Him greater works than these, that you may marvel. 21 For as the Father raises the dead and gives life to them, even so the Son gives life to whom He will. 22 For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son, 23 that all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.

-          Let’s not glean through this portion too quickly. The Jews were mad because he broke the Sabbath. But in His response to them, He also equated Himself to God. The religious leaders of that time did not skim over the fact that Jesus declared Himself to be equal to God. They understood exactly what He was claiming, and He confirmed the accuracy of their deduction. There are several religions today which deny the Truth that one God exists in three Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Let’s commit to memory this deity declaration Jesus was making, especially since we could be ‘divinely interrupted” to speak Truth to any of the following non-Trinitarian religions: Mormon, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Christian Science, Armstrongism, Christadelphians, Oneness Pentecostals, Unification Church, Unity School of Christianity, and Scientologist. There are others, and the point is this: Know God’s Word. Know what Jesus said according to His Word. Know His Word is Truth (John 17:17, Psalm 119:160) and is inspired by God (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

-          Jesus is also quite clear in that He can “do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do.” I have a thick head and calloused heart, at times. I’m not sure why I think I can accomplish things without God, yet Jesus plainly states He could do nothing without the Father. Devilish pride is what deceives me to say, “I am able,” instead of surrendering and declaring, “He alone is able.” This has been ruminating in my soul and I’m desperate to “abide in Christ” more.

Almighty God, teach me to rely solely on You. Guard me from “thinking” in my own head instead of trusting in You to direct my path (Proverbs 3:5-6). Help me to recognize what it means to exclusively rest in You. Thank you for being so patient with me. I know you will clean me out, so I can be filled up with You.

24 “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life. 25 Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, 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 to have life in Himself, 27 and has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man. 28 Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice 29 and come forth—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation. 

-          Jesus starts off verse 24 with, “Most assuredly,” or, as other translations read, “Verily, verily.” Essentially, He’s saying, “Listen up! You’re not going to want to miss this” (that’s the Tiffany Epiphany Version). Speaking of other versions, I lifted this (plagiarism-free) from The Wiersbe Commentary on the New Testament and it breaks this paragraph down in a way you probably never saw (at least, I didn’t realize):

In this fascinating paragraph, Jesus spoke about four different resurrections. He described the resurrection of lost sinners into eternal life (see John 5:24–25; Eph. 2:1–10). The lost sinner is as lifeless and helpless as a corpse. No matter how an undertaker may prepare a corpse, it is still dead, and no corpse is “deader” than any other corpse. If you are dead, you are dead! The lost sinner is helpless to save himself, and he certainly cannot give himself life. How are dead sinners raised from the dead? By hearing God’s Word and believing on God’s Son. Jesus healed the paralyzed man at the pool by His Word (John 5:8). Each time He raised somebody from the dead, He spoke the Word (Luke 7:11–17; 8:49–56; John 11:41–44). His Word is “living and powerful” (Heb. 4:12) and can raise sinners from spiritual death…The second resurrection mentioned is the resurrection of our Lord Himself (John 5:26). Our life is derived, but His life is original, “in himself.” “In him was life” (John 1:4). The grave could not hold Him because He is “the Prince of life” (Acts 2:24; 3:15). Jesus laid down His life and then took it up again (John 10:17–18). Because He has life in Himself, He can share that life with all who will trust Him. The third resurrection named is the future resurrection of life, when believers are raised from the dead (John 5:28–29a). This wonderful truth is explained in 1 Thessalonians 4:13–18 and 1 Corinthians 15. Keep in mind that resurrection is not reconstruction. It does not imply that God “puts the pieces back together again.” The resurrection body is a new body, a glorified body, suited to the new heavenly environment. Death is not the end for the believer, nor will he live in heaven as a disembodied spirit. God saves the whole person, and this includes the body (Rom. 8:23; Phil. 3:20–21). This resurrection of life will take place when Jesus Christ returns in the air and calls His people to Himself. The fourth resurrection He mentioned is the resurrection of condemnation (John 5:29b). This resurrection involves only the lost, and it will take place just before Jesus Christ ushers in the new heaven and the new earth (Rev. 20:11–15). What an awesome event that will be, when the dead “small and great” stand before Jesus Christ! The Father has committed all judgment to the Son (John 5:22) and has given Him the authority to execute judgment (John 5:27). Today Jesus Christ is the Savior, but one day He shall sit as the Judge. 

-          Four different types of resurrections. Wow. I’m thankful Jesus said in John 11:25, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die.” Oh, how glorious!

30 I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me.

-          Again, Jesus reiterates that He can do nothing Himself. Nothing means nothing. He continues to pack this Truth down into my soul because I get stuck on my “own” brilliance. How shameful.

-          Secondly, Jesus states that His judgment is righteous. I have a message scribbled on my glass board at work that says, “Does this situation require my judgment?” So often, I judge or provide my opinion” when it’s completely unnecessary.

Lord, give me a heart that is dependent upon You alone and teach me to only speak when You’ve prompted me to do so. Inspire my thoughts and guard my heart along the way.

31 “If I bear witness of Myself, My witness is not true. 32 There is another who bears witness of Me, and I know that the witness which He witnesses of Me is true. 33 You have sent to John, and he has borne witness to the truth. 34 Yet I do not receive testimony from man, but I say these things that you may be saved. 35 He was the burning and shining lamp, and you were willing for a time to rejoice in his light. 36 But I have a greater witness than John’s; for the works which the Father has given Me to finish—the very works that I do—bear witness of Me, that the Father has sent Me. 37 And the Father Himself, who sent Me, has testified of Me. You have neither heard His voice at any time, nor seen His form. 38 But you do not have His word abiding in you, because whom He sent, Him you do not believe. 39 You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. 40 But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.

41 “I do not receive honor from men. 42 But I know you, that you do not have the love of God in you. 43 I have come in My Father’s name, and you do not receive Me; if another comes in his own name, him you will receive. 44 How can you believe, who receive honor from one another, and do not seek the honor that comes from the only God? 45 Do not think that I shall accuse you to the Father; there is one who accuses you—Moses, in whom you trust. 46 For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me. 47 But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?”

-          The Old Testament law required the testimony of two or three witnesses (Numbers 35:30; Deuteronomy 17:6). That is why Jesus is emphasizing that He is not bearing witness to Himself. He speaks of John the Baptist’s witness, those who witnessed His miracles, and the Word of the Father (which the Jews highly regarded).

-          Despite “proving” His validity in a way they would have understood, they still didn’t believe (v38). How is this? In verse 42 it says, “…you do not have the love of God in you.” Friends, when God’s love is absent, hearts become harder and harder over time. It’s an example of people who have a head knowledge but not a heart knowing. That’s a path bound for destruction and eternal separation from God—let’s not go there.

Lord Almighty, filet my heart open so that I fully receive Your life-giving love. You are Love. I want to believe, Father, help my unbelief. Amen.

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