Summary: As part of our ongoing study in the book of John, we will spend the next several messages examining some of the claims of Christ. In each of these messages we will see different ways that Jesus claims to be God. Today we will see Christ’s claim that He
If you were with us last week, you’ll notice that we’re in part of the same passage we were then. Last week we started in verse 16 and looked at how and why the Jewish leaders rejected Jesus and wanted to kill Him. At the same time, we looked at how we reject Jesus for the same reasons. We found that there were two reasons. First, they rejected Jesus because He broke their rules by healing on the Sabbath. By doing that, He tore down their legalism and the way that they were trying to justify themselves. But the biggest reason that they rejected Jesus was that He claimed to be equal with God. And if Jesus was God, that meant that He had to be Lord of their lives. And if Jesus was going to be Lord of their lives, that meant that they couldn’t be. That was why they hated Him. They hated Him because He was telling them that He is God. And in case there was any confusion as to what Jesus was saying, He expanded on that in detail over the rest of the chapter. Jesus spends the rest of the chapter telling the Jewish leaders all the ways in which He is God. Not the ways that He acts like God. Not the ways that He talks about God. But all the ways that He is God. He makes six specific claims that make Him equal with God. We’re going to look at each of those claims over the next six weeks. We are going to see how Jesus is God in Person, in Works, in Power, in Honor, in Salvation, and in Judgment. But this morning, we’re going to see the first way that He claimed to be God. The first way that Jesus claimed to be God was that in these two verses, He claimed to be God in person. He said that in three ways.
First, Jesus claimed to be God in person because of His work in creation. He said that as God the Father works in creation, He works in creation. In other words, Jesus is functionally God in person. Look how Jesus answered the Jewish leaders in verse 17. He said, “My Father worketh hitherto, and I work.” What was He talking about? Remember that this whole discussion was in the context of the Sabbath. When was the Sabbath originated? During creation. Remember back in Genesis 1. Genesis 1 gives us an overview of the six days of creation. It tells us that God created light and separated it from the darkness. Then He created a firmament, or expanse to separate the water below from the canopy of water above. Then on the third day, He separated the water on the earth below with land. And on that land, He created all the plants. On the fourth day, He created the stars and other planets, specifically including our sun and moon. On the fifth day He created all of the fish and birds and on the sixth day, He created all of the land animals. But that’s not all He created on the sixth day. Because He created the crowning glory of all creation. On the sixth day, God completed His creative act by creating man and woman. They were the crown of His creation because they were the only beings who were created in God’s very own image. Unlike our culture today, the Jewish people of Jesus’ day knew all that. They accepted it as fact. They hadn’t bought into the ancient Greek pagan philosophy that said that a long time ago, a primordial soup spontaneously appeared. And out of that primordial soup, life appeared and began to evolve. You thought that started with Darwin? Actually, it started with Greek philosophers hundreds of years before Jesus. But the Jews didn’t fall for it. They understood Scripture and knew that God created the heavens and the earth in six days just like He said He did. And one of the ways that they were supposed to constantly remind themselves of God’s work in creation was by honoring the Sabbath day. After Genesis 1 finishes telling us what God did in the first six days, Genesis 2 begins with these words: “Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.” The Hebrew word for “seventh day” is Shabbat which we’ve carried over to our English word Sabbath. Later on, when the Israelites asked for the Law, one of the laws God gave them concerned the Sabbath. God told Israel that they were to remember the seventh day (Saturday) and keep it holy. In Exodus 20:8-11, God told them, “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.” Basically God told them, you need to remember my finished work of creation by not doing any work on Saturdays. This was deeply ingrained in the Jewish culture of Jesus’ day. So much so, that the religious leaders had come up with all kinds of extra rules and regulations about what constituted work. Jesus openly broke their rules without breaking God’s Sabbath law. Now, how was that possible? Because just because Scripture says that God rested on the Sabbath day, what did that mean? Did it mean that God took a nap and didn’t do anything? Of course not. God continually sustains His creation. If God was to remove His sustaining hand from creation for one second, creation would cease to exist. Psalm 121 reminds us in verse 2 that our help comes from the Lord who is the maker of heaven and earth. Then verse 3 says that He that keeps you will not slumber. Verse 4 says that God never slumbers nor sleeps. Jesus told the Jewish leaders that He’s just like that. The Father rested from His creative work on the very first Sabbath day. But that didn’t mean that He wasn’t working. It meant that He was finished. Just like a short time from our passage, Jesus would rest from His redemptive work. In just a short time, Jesus would proclaim from the cross, “It is finished.” Was He finished? Of course not. His redemptive work was finished. But Colossians 1:15-23 tells us that Jesus’ work as God was still going on. Turn to Colossians 1:15-23