Summary: Whenever religion is infused with independence, power, and control it becomes ultimate evil, but when it leads into the way of submission, sacrifice, and service it bears the ultimate goodness of God.
Much argument today is made about whether religion is helpful or harmful for society.
Of course much of the discussion hinges on what we mean by religion.
It‟s a topic that many of us could really go off on. But if I had to sum up what I see it would be this: whenever religion is infused with independence, power, and control… it becomes ultimate evil… but when it leads into the way of submission, sacrifice, and service… it bears the ultimate goodness of God.
As we continue in our series, a Journey with Jesus through the Gospel of John, we come to a great divide between Jesus and the religious leaders of his day.
Last week… Jesus comes to a man who had been crippled for 38 years… waiting with hopes to get healed…and he heals him. Those who served as religious leaders were so excited… a miracle of mercy… a sign of the Kingdom… no… they said nothing to the man about being glad for him… they just wanted to know who did it… because it was the Sabbath and he should not have gotten up and carried his mat. Today we take up what flows from this point of tension…
John 5:16-30 (NIV) 16 So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jews persecuted him. 17 Jesus said to them, "My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working." 18 For this reason the Jews tried all the harder to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God. 19 Jesus gave them this answer: "I tell you the truth, 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. Yes, to your amazement he will show him even greater things than these. 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, 23 that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him. 24 "I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life. 25 I tell you the truth, 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. 26 For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son to have life in himself. 27 And he has given him authority to judge because he is the Son of Man. 28 "Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice 29 and come out--those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned. 30 By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.
What is described here is the intensity of conflict that lies between Jesus and the religious leaders.
He had broken a rule they had about how the Sabbath was to be kept…. and he did so with the authority that transcended that of any human religious ruler. So John describes that they persecuted him.
> Their posture sets off something in Jesus… something needed to be set straight.
Up until now, Jesus had certainly confronted them… the whole religious system… but limited declaring his divine role. What brings out this strong response with such a clear profession?
> They had marred the goodness and glory of his Father.
The healing and wholeness of a crippled man… was dismissed… even deemed wrong.
Their actions towards the crippled man and now Jesus seem ridiculous…yet
So much is done in the name of Christ and God – Wars, Slavery, Holocaust, Sexual exploitations
So he confronts them straight on about who is doing the will of the Father.
And in doing so he declares that he was the one serving the Father…‟HIS Father.‟The Jews had sometimes referred to God as their Father… but only meaning he was the Father of their nation… Jesus described something quite different… a unique and personal father – son partnership.
Verse 18 – „For this reason the Jews tried all the harder to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.‟