Free! Yet a Slave. (Gospel of John Part 17)
Text: John 5:16-47
We are back in the Gospel of John this morning… and just to re-cap, last time we talked about how Jesus had healed the man at the pool of Bethesda. If you remember; the man had been in his condition for 38 years, but Jesus healed him, and the man took up his bed and was walking… And as he was walking he ran into a group of Pharisees, and they tried to rebuke the man because he was carrying his bed on the Sabbath Day. The Pharisees were so blinded by their legalism, they couldn’t even acknowledge that a miracle had taken place. Eventually they learn that Jesus was the One who healed the man, and so they want to come down on Him, and attack Him.
And that’s the point we’ve come to in our text this morning. Let’s go ahead and open our Bibles to John 5:16-47 (READ).
So as we’ve been looking through John’s Gospel, what John has done is show us one miraculous event after another, and he’ll continue to do that. And the reason that John is doing that is because he’s trying to show his readers that Jesus is God. In the very first chapter, that’s what he said, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God, and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.”
So John says in chapter 1 “Jesus is God.” And then he’s like – let me prove it to you. First He sees Nathaniel under the fig tree before Philip calls him – So Jesus is all knowing, He can see all things. Second, Jesus turns water into wine – He has the power to create and change the very substance of a thing. Third – Jesus again displays His omniscience with the woman at the well… telling her everything about her. Only God would know all of those things. Fourth… Jesus heals the official’s son, without even having to go to him. He just says the word, and the boy is healed. That shows that Jesus is not only able to heal, but also that He’s not bound by space and time. He just says the word and it happens. Then He heals the man at the pool of Bethesda. So John is giving us select stories and events in the ministry of Jesus to show us, that Jesus really and truly is God.
Now the Pharisee’s they don’t see it… in-fact; they have a problem with Jesus. They basically come up to Him and they’re like, “Hey, you’re breaking the Sabbath by healing this man… and you’re causing him to break the Sabbath by telling him to take up his bed and walk.” And I love Jesus’ answer to them… it’s there in verse 17, “My Father is working until now, and I am working.” You see the Pharisees rightly understood that the Sabbath was supposed to be a day of rest… but then they took it to the extreme. And what Jesus was saying to them there, was, “Listen. God rested on the 7th day. He rested from His work of creation. But don’t you understand that God is still working? He’s working in people’s lives. He’s working holding all of creation together. He’s working in blessing folks, and providing for folks, and healing folks, and protecting folks, and causing grass to grow, and tides to rise and fall, and providing food for man and beast alike. All this time, God has been working.” But Jesus makes it more personal here. He doesn’t just say “God is working…” He says, “My Father is working.” And then He goes on and says, “And I’m working too.” Now by saying it that way, what Jesus is doing is claiming to be one with God. He’s saying, “I’m just doing what I see my Father doing… I’m just doing what my Father does.” And that’s what verse 18 tells us.
Jesus goes on with this line of reasoning in the next few verses as well. And He basically says, that everything He does, everything He says, everything that He knows… all of His wisdom… it all comes from the fact that He is His Father’s Son, and that He is one with the Father (meaning God). We might say it like this – “LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON.”
Now this is an ongoing conversation that Jesus is going to have with the Jews… concerning who His Father actually is, and what that means.
It’s going to be brought up again in chapter 6, and in chapter 7, and then finally it’s going to culminate in chapter 8. But the point of it is always the same.
Jesus is saying, “I’m doing what I’ve seen My Father do, I’m saying what I’ve heard My Father say, I AM My Father’s Son… and then He hammers them, and says, ‘You are also YOUR father’s children.”
Let’s just go ahead and look at it… John 8:38-47 (READ).
So Jesus is pretty clear… and He’s pretty straightforward. He says, “My Father is God… your father is the devil. I do what I see My Father do.” If you go back to our text in chapter 5:19, Jesus never acts independently of the Father… Verse 20, He possesses intimate, personal knowledge of God and His plans; Verse 21 – He’s able to give sinners new life – just like His Father; Verse 22 – He’s going to raise the dead on some future day and judge them. Verse 23… and this is the one that really gets them riled up… He does all this, so that all honor may be given to the Son. Now that had to be a Louisville Slugger to the face. Because what Jesus is saying here is shocking to them. He’s saying… “Hey listen… you know that day when everyone will be honoring God… that’s going to be Me!”
Now think about this with me for a second. For you and me… if a man came up to us on the street and said, “I’m god, and some day, you’re all going to bow down and worship me.” We’d be like this guy is crazy! His elevator doesn’t go all the way to the top. So in that sense, we can kind of put ourselves into the shoes of these Jews that Jesus is talking to. But we have to remember, Jesus is doing miracles. He’s healing the sick, He’s feeding over 5000 people, He’s changing the molecular chemistry of water and making it wine. He’s walking on water, He’s calming storms. He’s healing people 20 miles away, just by saying the Word. And later on He’s even going to raise some folks from the dead. Not only that, but once you search the Scriptures, you find that He completely and totally fulfills all the prophecies that God has given concerning the Messiah.
So it gets to a point where there’s really no other option but to say that Jesus is really and truly God, come in the flesh. That He is the Messiah, the Savior, the Christ.
But they don’t come to that conclusion… instead they reject Jesus… and if you go back to John 8 you’ll see that they even want to kill Him, and get rid of Him. And we say, “What the heck man? Why can’t they see it? Why can’t they understand? Why can’t they accept that Jesus is the Son of God?” And Jesus answers that question. Look with me at verses 37 and 38 – (READ). Did you catch that? Jesus tells them, “God’s voice you’ve never heard… God’s Word is not abiding in you.” And how do we know that? Because they don’t believe!
If you’re a Christian, then God’s Word dwells in you… it lives in you… it resides and abides in you. It’s how we were born again.
1st Peter 1:23, “… You have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, THROUGH THE LIVING AND ABIDING WORD OF GOD!”
Go back to what Jesus was saying… He basically tells them, “You don’t understand what I’m saying, because you’re not born again. I know you’re not born again because of your complete lack of understanding of God’s Word. Because you don’t even have God’s Word in you.”
So they wouldn’t believe that Jesus was the Son of God… they wouldn’t… and they couldn’t… because the Word of God had no place in their heart. Their ears were closed off to it… or like the old King James used to say, “They had become dull of hearing.”
They’re right in the sense that they say the Bible has the answer… but they are completely misinterpreting it, and misunderstanding it. And when we get right down to it, they’re not so different than we are today. We can do the exact same thing. You can take all the evidence and all the facts and present them to someone, and they will still refuse to believe. You can show someone exactly what the Bible says, and they will still reject it.
So they reject Christ because they reject the authority and teaching of the Word… Remember… JESUS IS THE WORD MADE FLESH. So that’s verse 38.
They reject the love of God… that’s verse 42… and then look at verse 44 (READ).
So they desire the praise of men rather than of God. In other words, being accepted by the world, is more important than being right with God.
Basically what Jesus has just done is. He has systematically made the case, and laid it out for everyone to see that man is enslaved by sin. His thoughts, his desires, and his behavior are all the result of being enslaved. They are slaves. The Apostle Paul says the same thing in Romans and Galatians.
That’s how serious sin is. That’s how serious a thing it is to be an unbeliever. To be an unbeliever means that you are enslaved in sin. You are a prisoner of sin. Your heart, your mind, your will, your thoughts, your desires… all of that is held captive by sin. And you are sins prisoner. You can’t escape from it on your own. All of humanity either has been, or needs to be rescued. And the only One who can do that is Jesus Christ.
So the question for all of us is, who will be our Lord. Will it be Jesus, or will it be sin? Will it be Christ, or the world?