Jesus Christ Is the Son of God. Therefore, Honor Him as You Honor the Father!
O Lord God, our dear heavenly Father, You have chosen to reveal Yourself to us through Your Son, Jesus Christ. He, in turn, reveals Himself to us through His Word—the Holy Scriptures. Grant that Your Holy Spirit might guide us as we hear that Word. May we grow in our understanding of Your grace, in our love for Your Son, and in our determination to live our lives in accordance with Your expressed will. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.
The Lord asks why His people are “in a perpetual backsliding?” The answer was not difficult to discover. His people did not “know the judgement of the Lord,” for they had “rejected the word of the Lord!”
The members of the early church in Jerusalem were scattered due to a great persecution. As they scattered they preached the word. The Spirit of God gave them great success, especially in Samaria where Philip preached and performed miracles.
Text: John 5:18-29
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. 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. 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. For as the Father raises the dead and gives life to them, even so the Son gives life to whom He will. For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son, 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. 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. 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. For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself, and has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man. Do not marvel at this, for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice, and come forth—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.
In Christ, the glorious Son of God who is equal to the Father, dear fellow redeemed:
Have you ever heard someone say: “There is really only one God; people just call Him different names,” or “There are many roads to heaven, Christianity is just one of them”? Such statements represent spiritual “whistling in the dark,” for they are not true. Yet, such statements, I would guess, reflect the thinking of a majority of people in our day.
In sharp contrast, the Athanasian Creed, which we read responsively this past Trinity Sunday, states after rehearsing the biblical doctrines of the Trinity and the deity of Christ, “This is the Christian [some translations use the word ‘catholic’ meaning universal] faith; which except a man believe faithfully and firmly, he cannot be saved” (The Lutheran Hymnal, p. 53).
My dear friends, there is a spiritual poison out in our world today, of which we need to be aware and which we need to avoid. It is the attitude of uncertainty and indifference reflected in the statements I mentioned before. It is an attitude that suggests there is no absolute and universal truth, but only relative and personal truth. It is an attitude that ultimately damns. Jesus says in John 12:48: “He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him—the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day!” The word of God Peter assures us “lives and abides forever” (1 Peter 1:23). It will be the basis upon which we will be judged on the Last Day. What does it tell us about Jesus Christ and our way to eternal life? Our text is clear: JESUS CHRIST IS THE SON OF GOD! THEREFORE HONOR HIM AS YOU HONOR THE FATHER!
The world opposes this truth and refuses to honor Jesus as the Father! In order to understand Jesus’ words in our text, we must understand the context in which He spoke them. While Jesus was attending a religious feast in Jerusalem, He visited the Pool of Bethesda. He found a man lying beside the pool who had been bed-ridden for thirty-eight years. Jesus healed man and freed him from that physical bondage. Jesus’ Jewish enemies, the scribes and the Pharisees, however, became angry when they heard about the miracle, for Jesus had broken one of their laws. According to their law you could not heal on the Sabbath. When they confronted Jesus, He told them, “My Father has been working until now, and I have been working” (John 5:17). Now Jesus’ enemies became even angrier, because Jesus was claiming God as His Father and so “making Himself equal with God.” They were so angry they wanted to kill Jesus!
Why did Jesus’ fellow Jews, and in particular the religious leaders among them who were well aware of the Old Testament prophecies of the coming Savior, want to kill Him for what was essentially a good deed? Jesus’ miracles, after all, proved His claim to be God’s Son! Their reason was two-fold. First, Jesus’ action challenged their religious system of work-righteousness and demonstrated that it was false. Second, Jesus’ claim to be the Son of God required their submission to Him and to the truth His Father in heaven had sent Him to reveal!
Judaism, already in Jesus day, was a religion that had strayed from the truths and intent of God. God had given His Old Testament people the law of Moses in order to reveal to them their sin and their need for a Savior. The Old Testament sacrifices all pointed ahead to the sacrifice Jesus, as that promised Savior, would make on the cross. The law’s purpose was not to save people, for people cannot keep its demands. Rather, as the apostle Paul told the Galatians: “The Law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith” (3:24). We are saved, therefore, not by what we do, but rather by the grace of God through the redemption of Jesus Christ. It is God who saves us, not we ourselves! The Old Testament Sabbath day was to be a picture of this. The people were to do no work on the Sabbath, in order to demonstrate that they did not work their way to heaven, but rather were sanctified by God Himself through His promised Savior (cf. Exodus 31:13). Judaism in Jesus’ day, as it continues to do today, strayed from these truths and attempted to turn the law of Moses into a means for people to gain their own salvation through work-righteousness. Consequently, they placed emphasis upon doing no work on the Sabbath as a righteous act of man, whereby he could help earn his own salvation. In fact, the scribes and Pharisees compiled a list of over 1,400 restrictions on what could or could not be done on the Sabbath. It was against this list of man-made commandments that Jesus had offended by healing the sick man at the Pool of Bethesda. Jesus was, in effect, telling the Jews of His day—your religious beliefs are in error and contradict the will of God! The Jews were unwilling to accept this. They did not want to believe they could be wrong!
Consequently, they refused to consider the fact that Jesus was the Son of God—that He had been sent by the Father in heaven to restore them to the truth. To believe that Jesus was the promised Savior would mean that they would have to submit to Him and believe what He was teaching about them and the way to heaven. They would have to admit that they were sinners incapable of saving themselves. They would have to admit that they needed the grace and mercy of God, because they could not earn their way to heaven. When Jesus then tied what He had done—healing the sick man on the Sabbath—with the very work of God the Father by saying, “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,” His Jewish enemies refused to listen. God the Father would not violate His Sabbath they reasoned. But they misunderstood the very nature of the Sabbath, for the Sabbath was to be a sign—an illustration—of God love and mercy, to which Jesus went on to refer: “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.” God would show Jesus greater works than the healing of a man who had been sick thirty-eight years? Yes, indeed, for God would through Christ “reconcile the world to Himself” through Jesus’ own life and death. God would through Jesus overcome all sin, all death, and all demonic powers—actions which were verified by Jesus’ miracles of casting out demons and raising people such as Lazarus from the grave. Yes, Jesus enemies would see those miracles and marvel, but they would not believe—they would refuse to honor the Son as they claimed to honor the Father. In refusing to honor the Son, however, they failed to honor the Father who sent Him and so lost their relationship with God the Father. Their faith life ultimately became a self-delusion.
My dear friends, the Jews’ rejection of Jesus’ claim to be the Son of God and their refusal to honor Him as the Father is simply one example of what has and continues to occur spiritually in the lives of the majority of people living on this earth today. Only one in three people alive today claim faith in Christ, and many of those claiming faith in Christ remain confused when it comes to their understanding of biblical truth. Why do people reject Christianity? Why do they remain confused even when the Bible is available for them? It is essentially for the same reasons the Jews rejected Jesus. Every religion apart from Christianity is based upon some form of work-righteousness—man can and must save himself, or at least contribute something to his salvation. This Jesus reveals in His word to be false. Every religion apart from Christianity exalts someone other than Jesus above Jesus. Oh, some non-Christian religions speak highly of Jesus as a man, but they refuse to acknowledge His claim to be God. To do so would be to acknowledge their need to repent and to submit to Him and His teachings—something they simply refuse to do. Sadly, this is something even many Christians today refuse to do, in large part because they refuse to accept the teachings of the Son of God as valid and binding upon their lives. Listen to a portion of a letter written to the editors of World Magazine. It appeared in the “Mailbag” section of their August 12, 2006 issue and refers to a major Christian denomination with our United States: “The consecration of homosexual clergy is simply the result of the denomination’s continuing rejection of the authority of the Bible. Until its members repent of apostasy and turn to God for revival, this once noble denomination will continue its decline into irrelevance, oblivion, and judgment” (p. 32). This gentleman sees the root of the problem facing man in our world! JESUS CHRIST IS THE SON OF GOD! THEREFORE HONOR HIM AS YOU HONOR THE FATHER! The world opposes this truth and refuses to honor Jesus as the Father!
Believers, on the other hand, embrace this truth and desire to honor Jesus as the Father!Jesus told the people of His day, “The Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son.” It is a fact that one day we will all stand before Jesus’ throne of judgment. We are answerable to Him. Psalm 2, which was suggested for your pre-service meditation, speaks of this coming judgment of Jesus and suggests, “Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and you perish in the way, when His wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him” (Verses 10-12).
Why should we, as believers, embrace the truth that Jesus is God’s Son? Why should we desire to honor Jesus as we the Father? Should we do so because we are afraid of what might otherwise come our way at the end of time? No, not at all! Oh, yes, we should have a healthy fear of God’s power and that of Jesus as well. There are times when our sinful flesh needs to be curbed. But the fear of which the Psalmist speaks is tied to faith and trust and rejoicing. Why is that the case? Jesus tells us, “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 to life. As the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself.” My dear friends, what greater reason for joy than knowing that by faith in Jesus, as the very Son of God—our Savior, we possess the gift of everlasting life. We will not suffer the punishment of hell. We will not be condemned on Judgment Day for our sins, for they have been removed by the cleansing effect of Jesus’ blood and replaced by Jesus’ righteousness! Remember the words of that familiar hymn: “Jesus, Thy blood and righteousness my beauty are, my glorious dress; midst flaming worlds, in these arrayed, with joy shall I lift up my head. Bold shall I stand in that great day, for who aught to my charge shall lay? Fully through these absolved I am, from sin and fear, from guilt and shame” (TLH 371:1-2).
It is a humbling thing to confess our sins, to acknowledge our guilt, to understand that we are completely dependent upon God for our eternal salvation. However, even as a patient must entrust himself to his doctor and someone caught in a burning building must listen to the instructions of the rescue worker, so we must entrust ourselves to our Savior God and listen attentively to His instructions, for they are intended to give us life!
Jesus says in our text, “The Father…has given Him authority to execute judgment. Do not marvel at this, for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.” It is a fact that on Judgment Day we will all stand before our Savior. On that day, Jesus says, we will be judged on the basis of our works—whether we have “done good” or whether we have “done evil.” This does not mean that our good works will save us, or for that matter that our evil works will condemn us. Rather, they both will serve as evidence either of our faith or our unbelief. To the Jews who rejected Him in unbelief, these words served as a stark reminder of the truth of the facts they were denying. They would one day stand before this very Jesus, whom they hated, and answer to Him for their unbelief and its resulting evil works. So will all who reject Jesus. But to those who love Jesus and who with joy strive to keep His commandments, Judgment Day will be a day of joy and triumph. Faith acting in love will receive its reward of grace—the gift of life everlasting!
My dear friends, Jesus is calling! He is calling out to you and to me to come and to believe that He is the very Son of God, whose teachings we can accept with confidence, and whose blessing is promised as we seek faithfully to follow Him. Let us honor Him, even as we honor the Father! Amen.
—Pastor Paul D. Nolting