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After this there was a feast of the Jews; and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep market a pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porches. In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water. For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had. And a certain man was there, which had an infirmity thirty and eight years. When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, he saith unto him, Wilt thou be made whole? The impotent man answered him, Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool: but while I am coming, another steppeth down before me. Jesus saith unto him, Rise, take up thy bed, and walk. And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked: and on the same day was the sabbath. The Jews therefore said unto him that was cured, It is the sabbath day: it is not lawful for thee to carry thy bed. He answered them, He that made me whole, the same said unto me, Take up thy bed, and walk. Then asked they him, What man is that which said unto thee, Take up thy bed, and walk? And he that was healed wist not who it was: for Jesus had conveyed himself away, a multitude being in that place. Afterward Jesus findeth him in the temple, and said unto him, Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee. The man departed, and told the Jews that it was Jesus, which had made him whole. And therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to slay him, because he had done these things on the sabbath day.
We are now to consider another of the signs and miracles, of which we have just eight in all, recorded in the gospel of John. The apostle, in choosing by the Spirit’s direction the various miracles which he brings before us, was evidently seeking to illustrate in various ways the wonderful grace of God, as revealed in Christ, to needy sinners.
The background here is most interesting. We are told that after our Lord’s ministry in Galilee there was a feast of the Jews. We do not know exactly what feast. It was probably the feast of the Passover, and the Lord Jesus, in accordance with the law, went down to participate in the feast. The Passover feast must have been of exceptional interest to Him, for He knew well that every paschal lamb that was sacrificed at that time pictured Himself, even as we are told in 1 Corinthians 5:7-46.5.8, “Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” The Lord Jesus then went to the feast, and as He moved in and out among the people He passed by the pool of Bethesda, which was near the sheep gate. We read, “Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep market a pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porches” (John 5:2). This was God’s special provision for His people during the legal dispensation.
Bethesda was a “house of mercy,” where God was extending loving-kindness to an afflicted people. We need to realize that even before grace and truth came in all their fullness in the person of our Lord Jesus Christ, the heart of God was toward every needy soul, and He made provision that all those who would turn to Him might do so. There were certain regulations or requirements. They came to God, bringing their offerings. But these offerings all spoke of the Lord Jesus Christ and were accepted, not because of any intrinsic value they possessed, but because of that which they prefigured, and because of the faith and confidence that prompted the people to bring them. So all through the legal dispensation, God was reaching and saving man in His own wonderful way. Of that this scene is a picture.
Here was the pool of Bethesda, and around it there “lay a multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered” (v. 3). These expressions speak of the results of sin. It blinds our eyes to the truth of God and to the glory of God. It makes us lame, so that we cannot walk in the ways of God. It withers up all our strength, so that we are helpless and unable to do anything to save ourselves. Naturally, we are all like these impotent folk gathered there by the pool. We may say that all sickness and pain and suffering and warfare that distress mankind have come into the world, not through God’s divine decision, but because of man’s waywardness. They are the fruits of the fall, and our Lord Jesus Christ has come that He might destroy the works of the Devil. Some day, thank God, He is going to undo completely all these effects of sin.
This motley, helpless throng were lying in the courts of Bethesda. What were they waiting for? Waiting for the moving of the water. Now I know there is a question among scholars as to the genuineness of verse 4, which tells of an angel troubling the water. In the most ancient manuscripts this verse is not found at all, and yet, as we read on in the story, there seems to be reference to it, so that one would think that it belongs to the original text. But many editors believe it was inserted in the margin by some copyist long years ago in order that we might understand why these people were gathered at the pool, and then some later scribes incorporated it into the text. At any rate, it explains the reason why the people were there. There was a spring. At times it was perfectly quiet, and intermittently it bubbled up. Some of us have seen springs like that. The people understood that an angel went down into this spring at a certain season and troubled the water, so whosoever stepped in at that time was made whole of whatever disease he had.
Here was the best that the law could do. The law had help for the one who needed it the least. The strong could get into the water first. But the worse he was, the more helpless and the more sinful, the more wretched his condition, the less likely he was to avail himself of the privileges that the law could offer him. Some of these people had lain there for not only weeks and months, but for years, and one man was there who had had an affliction thirty-eight years. He was paralyzed. He had lost the power to use his legs. How long he had lain at the pool of Bethesda we do not know, but his friends may have brought him there years before Jesus met him. He was a picture of a poor, helpless sinner. That is true of every one of us in our natural state.
Long years ago, out in San Francisco, a group of us were having a Sunday school outing down on the beach by the Cliff House. We used to go there on Washington’s birthday. That morning when we got out to the beach at nine o’clock, the fog was just beginning to lift, and in a little while we were amazed to see all kinds of wreckage on the beach. We did not understand where it all came from. A little later we learned that a great ship, the “Rio de Janeiro,” on its way home from China had attempted to make the San Francisco harbor in a dense fog and had run upon a rock and was broken to pieces. Hundreds of people were drowned; some had escaped.
The paper told this story: among the saved ones was a young American journalist. Both of his legs had been broken, and in that condition he was thrown into the water. The cold water probably brought him back to consciousness, and he began to float. Hours afterward that utterly helpless man was drawn out of the water by a rescue party. I thought as I read that, what a picture of God’s grace to needy sinners! There were others who swam for hours before they were picked up, strong and hearty men, and many others were drowned. But this man had no ability to swim. He was helpless, yet he was saved. What a picture of many of us! We read, “When we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly” (Romans 5:6). We helpless sinners were saved and found life and peace.
Consider this helpless man at the pool. He did not seek the Savior. He did not ask Jesus to heal him. We often turn things around and plead with sinners to ask Jesus to save them, but nowhere in the Bible is man told to pray for salvation. Rather, we are told that God Himself is beseeching men to be reconciled to Himself. This man did not even know of Christ, but Jesus came seeking him. Oh, I like to tell, as I have often told, of the little boys answer when someone said, “My son, have you found Jesus?” He, looking up, said, “Why, sir, I didn’t know He was lost. But I was, and He found me.”
“The Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). So He came to find this poor helpless man who did not know anything about Him, not even His name. His need appealed to the tender, gracious heart of the Son of God. Oh, if I am speaking to anyone today who is lost and miserable be assured your very wretchedness and helplessness appeal to the heart of the Son of God. He wants to deliver you and save you.
See what it says in verse 6: “When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, he saith unto him, Wilt thou be made whole?” Jesus “knew that he had been now a long time in that case.” Yes, eight years longer than Christ Himself had been on earth that man had been in this illness. Why did He wait so long? That the man might come to the end of himself. You and I would not have come to Christ if we had not been brought to see our insufficiency. You have heard of the poor man who fell into the water. Unable to swim, he went down once and came up again, and went down again. A strong swimmer stood on the pier, looking on, and the people cried, “Why don’t you leap in and save that man?” He said nothing, but let the man go down again, and then he threw off his coat and plunged in and brought him safely to shore. They said, “Why did you wait so long before you went in to save him?” He answered, “He was too strong before. I had to wait until his strength was gone. I had to wait until he could do nothing himself, until he was helpless.”
I think Jesus was waiting for that. When the man was brought to the pool first he had high hopes. “It won’t be long until I can get in,” he thinks, and then someone else got in before him. Over and over again he had gone through this disappointing experience, and now he is ready to give up in despair. It is the despairing soul that Jesus loves to meet in grace. He saves the one who admits, “I cannot do anything to deliver myself.”
See how the Lord dealt with this man. “When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, he said unto him, Wilt thou be made whole?” A very simple question. He puts it to everyone. Is my reader unsaved? The blessed Lord is saying, “Would you be made whole?” Do you want to find God’s salvation? “Wilt thou be made whole?” Do you want to know the delivering grace of God? What is your answer? Do you want to be made whole?
The impotent man answered Him, saying, “Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool: but while I am coming, another steppeth down before me” (v. 7). Oh, how many there are like that. “There is only one thing I lack. If I could only get a man to help me.” How many people feel like that. Some say, “Oh, if I could only find out the right church.” My friend, if you joined every church in Christendom, that would not save you. “Well, if I could only get instruction as to what principles I should live up to.” It is not doing that saves the soul. The quicker we learn that lesson, the better. “Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness” (Romans 4:4-45.4.5).
The paralytic said, “I have no man to help me.” Seeing the deep need in which he was, Jesus said unto him, “Rise, take up thy bed, and walk” (John 5:8). What a strange command to give a helpless man! Oh, but there is power in the words of Jesus. We read, “Immediately the man was made whole” (v. 9a). There was something about the word of Jesus that wrought faith in that man’s heart. Somebody says, “Well, I would like to be saved and it takes faith, but I do not have faith.” But “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). The man says, “I would like to be made whole, but there is no way.” Then he hears the word of Jesus, “Rise, take up thy bed, and walk,” and he looks up and faith springs up in his soul. I would like to have seen him leap to his feet for the first time. He would say, “Dear me, I can hardly believe it.” Then he looked down on that load of bedding and at the command of Jesus took it under his arm, just a pallet, and off he went rejoicing in his newfound strength.
“Immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked: and on the same day was the Sabbath.” Now a sinister note comes in: “The same day was the sabbath” (John 5:9). Nothing wrong with it, but there were critics sitting there. “Doesn’t He know this is the Sabbath day?” It meant more to them than the healing of a poor fellow-creature. They were far more concerned about ceremony and ritual, so they were ready at once to find fault. To the healed man the Jews said, “It is not lawful for thee to carry thy bed” (v. 10). Instead of rejoicing and saying, “Why, friend, we have seen you lying there for years, and we are so thankful you are now well!” these legalists, like the elder son in the story of the prodigal son who would not go in when his brother had come home and was forgiven, said, “You have no business carrying this burden on the Sabbath.” The man might have said, “Burden! Why, this is no burden! It is a joy to carry it.” “It is not lawful for thee,” they cried, but the healed man said, “He that made me whole, the same said unto me, Take up thy bed, and walk” (v. 11). As much as to say, “Go fight with Him now if you have any complaint.” “Well,” they asked, “who was it? What man was that?” “And he that was healed wist not who it was” (v. 13). He was so utterly ignorant that he did not even know the name of his deliverer. He only acted on what he was told.
This poor man did not know the name of the one who had healed him. We read, “Afterward Jesus findeth him in the temple, and said unto him, Behold, thou art made whole” (v. 14a). He had not been in the temple for thirty-eight years and wanted to make up for lost time. People always do this when Jesus saves them. “Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee” (v. 14b). This man’s illness was evidently a result of sin. Jesus warned him against falling into sin in the future. It was a timely admonition. Oh, young convert, do not trifle with sin. We may become cleared of the guilt of sin, but there are dire temporal consequences of certain sins that follow one all through life, though one may be forgiven.
Now the man found out who his Deliverer was. “The man departed, and told the Jews that it was Jesus, which had made him whole” (v. 15). Oh, you would have thought that they would all have gone to Him and thanked Him for this deed of power, but instead of that, their cold legal hearts led them to act in the opposite way. We read, “Therefore did the Jews… [seek] to slay him, because he had done these things on the sabbath day” (v. 16). Instead of recognizing the fact that that day, of all days, they should have expected God to work, they found fault with Jesus. They had no heart for the grace that could meet a poor sinner’s need. Let us beware lest we too fall under the power of the same spirit of legality.
But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work. Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God. Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise. For the Father loveth the Son, and sheweth him all things that himself doeth: and he will shew him greater works than these, that ye may marvel. For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom he will. For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son: That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him. Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.
We have been considering the record of our Lord’s healing of the impotent man at the pool of Bethesda, and closed by noticing the indignation of the legalistic Jews of that day who were distressed because the Lord did this upon the Sabbath day. They had added a great many of their own laws to those in the books of Moses. They were more concerned about the technicalities of this case than they were in the blessing of the poor man who had waited so long for deliverance. “Therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to slay him because he had done these things on the sabbath day” (v. 16).
Note our Lord’s defense. “But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work” (v. 17). Just what did He mean by this? Why, He would carry their minds back to creation. God created the heavens and the earth at an undetermined period, so far as man’s records are concerned. We do not know how far back it may have been. Whenever that beginning was, God created the heavens and the earth. Then the earth fell into a chaotic condition, and God undertook to remake that earth that it might become the abode of man and the stage upon which was to be enacted the great drama of redemption. So we have the six days’ work in which the world was brought back from chaos to order, and we are told that God rested on the seventh day and that the seventh day was hallowed. It was the Sabbath of God. But, alas, God’s Sabbath was a very brief one, for it was not long until sin came in to that fair creation which but a little while before had been proclaimed as very good And when sin came in, God became a worker once more, and He never found rest again until at last He rested in the work of His own beloved Son of Calvary’s cross.
During all the millenniums preceding the cross, God never observed a Sabbath. He gave the Sabbath to man in the law for man’s blessing and good. Jesus Himself says, “The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath” (Mark 2:27). But when God gave to man one day in seven, He had no rest Himself. It was unthinkable that He, the loving, holy, compassionate God, could rest as long as the sin question remained unsettled. So Jesus answered these men by saying, “My Father worketh hitherto, and I work” (John 5:17). That is, because He was one with the Father He did what His Father did, and so He was in the world working to undo the results of sin. They found fault with Him because He delivered a man from sin’s effect on the Sabbath day. It shows how little they comprehended the mind of the Father. “My Father worketh hitherto, and I work.” They did not understand. Their indignation increased, and they sought the more to kill Him because He not only had broken the Sabbath, but had said that God was His Father. The expression is a rather peculiar one. It implies that He Himself had implied that He had a right to use this name in a way that other men did not. He said that God was His own Father, making Himself equal with God. They understood that when the Lord Jesus spoke of Himself as the Son of the Father that He meant to say that He was one with the Father-one person of the Godhead.
Jew and Gentile are both charged with the murder of the Son of God. The Jews dragged Him into Pilate’s hall saying, “We have a law, and by our law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God” (John 19:7). That was their accusation, but Pilate gave sentence that it should be as they desired, so he stands as the representative of the Gentile world accused before the bar of God of the murder of His blessed Son. Yet how gracious God is! He offers to both Jew and Gentile salvation through the One they rejected, although they spurned Him and united in crucifying the Son of God. The Jews would have stoned Him to death, but by driving Him to the Gentiles He was sent to the cross. However, in virtue of His sacrifice of Himself on the cross of shame, salvation can be offered to Jew and Gentile if they turn to God and believe on the Son. “We need not be afraid then to admit that we have had a part in murdering the Son of God. But we can come to Him as repentant sinners and trust the One whom we have rejected as our personal Savior. “For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him” (Romans 10:12).
Legalists of every kind always reject Jesus. Legalists of every type, Jew or Gentile, would crucify Him if He were here again. How can you prove that? Why! They do not want Him now. If they wanted Him they would accept Him and believe in His name, but they refuse to believe, showing that their hearts are just the same today as the hearts of those who sought to slay Him. They sought to slay Him because they denied His Deity. He declared that He was one with the eternal Father. He made Himself equal with God. “Then answered Jesus and said unto them…” (John 5:19a). Instead of trying to make things easier for them, He makes them harder. If men turn away and refuse to believe, then He will give them something even more difficult to believe. But if they come to Him in repentance, He will make things plain so that they can easily understand. He said, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise” (v. 19b). What a tremendous claim was this! Whatsoever the Son sees the Father do, He does. Would ever mere man dare to say that? If he did, would he not be branded as a paranoiac? But Jesus spoke as the Son of the Father.
“The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do,” He does. What does that really mean? Some people imagine that He is saying, “I have less power than the Father. I can only imitate.” But it is the very opposite. He is saying, “It is impossible for the Son to act apart from the Father.” Every person of the Trinity might speak like that. The Father can do nothing without the Son, the Holy Spirit can do nothing without the Son, the Father can do nothing without the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit can do nothing without the Father, the Son can do nothing without the Father, and the Son can do nothing without the Holy Spirit. In other words, the relationship of the three persons in the Godhead is such that none can act apart from the other. Whatever the Spirit does, He does in the fullest fellowship with the Son and the Father, and so with every other person of the Eternal Trinity.
Here we have set forth in a marvelous way the reality of the unity and yet trinity of the Godhead. We sometimes speak of the three persons of the Trinity as the Father, the first person; the Son, the second person; the Holy Spirit, the third person. Scripture makes no such distinction. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit are one, coequal and coeternal, and neither can act without the full approval and fellowship of the rest. Here as a Man on the earth, the Lord Jesus could actually face His accusers in that day and say, “The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do.” And then He added, “For the Father loveth the Son, and showeth him all things that himself doeth: and he will show him greater works than these, that ye may marvel” (v. 20). Oh, how utterly impossible it is for us to understand the love of the Father for the Son as a Man here on the earth. Three times He rent the heavens above His head to declare His love for His Son, saying, “This is my beloved Son.” “The Father loveth the Son, and showeth him all things that he doeth.” They are one in counsel and purpose, and “he will show him greater works than these, that ye may marvel.” He was looking on to His triumphs at the cross and in His resurrection.
Our Lord Jesus claimed that He has exactly the same power to call man back from the dead as the Father has. “For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom he will” (v. 21). To quicken is to impart life. The Son gives life to whom He will. When we think of resurrection, we think of the omnipotent power of God put forth to bring the dead back from the grave. This power is attributed to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. This is true in connection with our Lord’s own resurrection. We read that He was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father. He said, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up again” (John 2:19). He says elsewhere, “No man taketh [my life] from me… I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again” (10:18). And then we are also told that the Spirit of Him that raised up Christ from the dead shall quicken our mortal bodies. God the Father is said to have raised Him from the dead. The entire Trinity acted as one to raise the Lord Jesus, and the entire Trinity will have part in the resurrection of all them that are in Christ at His coming. It is God the Father and God the Holy Spirit and God the Son who will call the dead from their tombs.
Then the Lord Jesus said a tremendous thing: “For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son” (5:22). What a stupendous claim is this! He who moved about over the hills and through the valleys of Palestine and, to all outward appearances, was just a Galilean artisan, says, “The Father… hath committed all judgment unto the Son.” “[He] hath given him authority to execute judgment… because he is the Son of man” (v. 27). Scripture says that “[God] hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead” (Acts 17:31). In the Bible we read that God is going to judge the world, but here we read that the Judge is He who became Man for our redemption. What a marvelous declaration!
Are you out of Christ today? If you die like that, you will have to stand before the Great White Throne, where you will find yourself looking into the face of a Man. You will see upon that throne the Man Christ Jesus, the One who went to Calvary’s cross to die for you. You will give an account of yourself to Him and His lips will proclaim the sentence of judgment. We who believe will not have to come into judgment for our sins, and yet we will all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. He will go over all our ways down here, since His grace brought us to know God as our Father and Christ as our Savior, and He will examine all our work and judge the deeds done in the body. Our Lord Jesus Christ will do this. He is the One who will call all the nations into judgment eventually: “When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory” (Matthew 25:31). “The Father… hath committed all judgment unto the Son.”
“That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him” (John 5:23). One of the first grave dissensions in the early Christian church was the Arian controversy. Arius taught that it was unreasonable to believe that the Lord Jesus Christ was the eternal, uncreated Son of the Father. He maintained that instead of that He was the first created being, that He was not eternal, that He was not one with the Father from eternal ages. This man was opposed by Athanasius, who maintained the truth that the Lord Jesus, whose goings forth are from everlasting to everlasting, was the eternal Son as God the Father is the eternal Father and as the Holy Spirit is the eternal Spirit. That controversy disrupted the church for many years, but finally at the Council of Nicaea it was definitely declared that the Scriptures taught that the Lord Jesus Christ was one with the Father from all eternity. For a century afterward, however, it was disturbed by the same controversy.
On one occasion, Athanasius, the valiant defender of the truth as to Christ’s equality with the Father, was summoned before one of the emperors who had given his own royal son the honor of sharing the imperial power and sitting with himself upon the throne. Athanasius bowed low before the emperor but utterly ignored his son. “What!” exclaimed the angry ruler, “do you pretend to honor us while dishonoring and paying no attention to our son, whom we have made the sharer of our authority?” “Do not you,” answered Athanasius, “profess to honor God the Father, while refusing to give the same honor His coequal Son?” It was a word fitly spoken, but whether the emperor saw the truth or not we do not know.
Now we come to a verse that has been used as much as any other in the gospel of John for winning souls: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life” (v. 24). What a stupendous statement do we have here! Can any believer in the Lord Jesus doubt his eternal salvation with words like these before him, words that come to us directly from the lips of the Son of God Himself? He begins with the divine oath, “Verily, verily.” We find that double “verily” only in John’s gospel. Again and again we find it there, and it always introduces a truth of tremendous importance. In the Douay Version the verse reads like this, “Amen, amen, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life and comes not into judgment, but is passed out of death into life.” Think of it! What a wonderful declaration! “Amen, amen!” “Verily, verily!” It means “without any possibility of controversy,” “He that heareth my word…” Have you heard His word?
There are many people who hear with the outward ear, but do not hear in the heart. He speaks of hearing the word in the sense of receiving it in the heart. He who receives and believes what God has said in His Word-what God has said about our lost condition-about redemption-he who hears the word of the gospel, “and believeth on him that sent me”-it is not exactly on but “he that believeth him.” It is God who has spoken. When I stand up and give men something from that Book, I am preaching what God has said. Do you believe God? People say sometimes, “Well, I am trying to believe.” Trying to believe whom? God has spoken. You either believe Him or you do not believe Him. If you believe what God has said, our Lord declares that you have eternal life.
Now notice, it is not that you may hope to have it, providing that you continue faithful. It is not eternal life at the end of the way. It is the present tense: “He that believeth hath. “There is a sense, of course, in which eternal life is at the end of the way. The reason is that if I am a believer in Jesus Christ today, I know that some day, when He comes again, my very body will be quickened into eternal life. But every believer, here and now, possesses life, eternal life. The very life of God is communicated to him who trusts the Word of God.
Now look at this: “Shall not come into condemnation.” The word is really judgment. There is no judgment to those who are in Christ. Why? Because all our judgment was borne by the Lord Jesus Christ when His arms were outstretched on the cross. There all our sins deserved was poured out upon our blessed Substitute, and so we shall never have to go into the judgment for our sins. Our judgment day was at the cross.
Jesus died, and we died with Him,
Buried in His grave we lay.
All our sins were dealt with when He took our place upon the tree, and so we shall not come into judgment, but already we have passed out of death into life.
Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live. For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself; and hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man. Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.
We continue to examine our Lord’s words uttered after the healing of the palsied man at the pool of Bethesda. Following that great gospel message of verse 24: “Verily, verily I say unto you, He that heareth my word and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life and shall not come into condemnation; [or judgment-this is exactly the same Greek word that is translated “damnation” in v. 29 and “judgment” in v. 27], but is passed from death unto life.”
Now in verse 25 our Lord again used that solemn form of address by which He would challenge our most serious attention, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live.” He is not speaking in this verse of the physically dead but rather of the spiritually dead, of those who are dead in trespasses and sins. This is true of all men out of Christ, all men who are in Adam by natural generation. Death passed upon all men when Adam sinned. As God looks down upon the race today He sees it as a race of men and women dead to Himself and everything spiritual, and alive to what men call pleasure, alive to their own personal affairs, but with not one pulse-beat toward God-every one dead and utterly helpless, for, of course, a dead man cannot do anything to change his condition. He cannot help himself, and if those dead in trespasses and sin are to live, they must receive life through Another, even our Lord Himself.
“The hour is coming, and now is.” He is introducing this wonderful dispensation of the grace of God. The hour began when He came to earth and has been in progress for over nineteen hundred years-the hour when God is quickening dead souls and bringing men and women to find life in Christ. Millions have heard His voice and repented, and know what it is to have life eternal through receiving that Word.
“The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God.” That voice is a voice of power. It is a voice that can reach the heart that is utterly dead to everything holy. Remember Lazarus. He was physically dead and Jesus came to that graveside and said, “Roll away the stone.” “But he has been dead four days, and his body has become offensive.” But Jesus commanded them to do as He said, and they did, and He called, “Lazarus, come forth!” (John 11:43), and he came forth. That dead man heard the voice of Jesus because that voice was a life-giving voice.
I had a friend who was deep in sin, dead to God, living in the vilest corruption. One night in Fresno, California, as he passed a little open-air meeting he heard the group singing:
He breaks the power of cancelled sin,
He sets the prisoner free;
His blood can make the foulest clean,
His blood availed for me.
Those words, sung over and over, went right home to his heart, and that man, dead in sin, heard the voice of the Son of God, and that night believed the message and became a new creature in Christ. The old sinful habits that had bound him so long dropped away. He was different because he had heard the voice of the Son of God. I think of another, who came into a meeting a poor drunkard, utterly lost, but he heard someone repeat the words of Christ, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). He said, “Is that for me? Is He inviting me to come?” That man was made to live. He never touched a drop of liquor again. He was through, because he had heard the voice of the Son of God. Life is in His word.
“The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live.” Notice, God does not set people working in order to obtain life. We could do nothing to deserve life, and we cannot please God until we have received it. “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life” (Romans 6:23). We cannot obtain life through subjection to certain religious ordinances or availing ourselves of sacraments. Men do not get life through baptism or the Lord’s Supper, or through doing penance, attending church, or giving money. They receive eternal life through hearing and believing the voice of the Son of God. “Hear, and your soul shall live” (Isaiah 55:3). Have you heard that voice? Men turn away from it. Christ is speaking all the time, down through the ages, but many turn away and go on in their sins. They continue in their state of death. But the moment a man hears that voice in the depths of his heart, that moment he receives life. This life is given by the Son of God. He says, “As the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself; and hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man” (John 5:26-43.5.27).
If men refuse the message of the gospel, if they turn away from the Word of the Son of God and spurn His grace, then the same God, who has made Him a Giver of life to all who believe, has appointed Him as Judge of those who refuse Him, in the last day. The Father has given to the Son to have life in Himself and has given Him the authority to execute judgment. We had something like this in verse 22. There we read, “For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son.” This gives us to know that the Son is God because Scripture declares that it is God who will judge the world. God will sit upon the Great White Throne and call sinners before Him to answer for the guilt of rejecting the salvation that He has provided, but the person of the Godhead who will appear on that throne will be the Lord Jesus Christ. Men who stand before that throne in their sins will be judged by the Man, Christ Jesus. The Father has given Jesus authority to execute judgment because He is the Son of Man.
When Job was utterly bewildered because of God’s dealings with him, he said, “I look on my right hand and on my left hand, but He is not there. He is not a man as I am, that we might come together in judgment. Neither is there any Daysman that might put His hand upon us both” (see Job 9:32-18.9.33; Job 23:8-18.23.9Job 23:8-18.23.9). But that for which Job longed, a man who could represent God to him, is found in the person of our Lord Jesus Christ. He is as truly Man as He is God. “There is… one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5). If men refuse to trust that blessed Man, who bore our sins in His own body on the tree, they will be judged according to their works. In order that this might not be, He died on that shameful cross: “He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5). If men refuse Him and turn away from Him now, some day they will have to meet Him. Some day they will have to face Him in their sins when it is too late to be saved. He who would have given life will then have to be their Judge.
But now, having spoken of one hour, the hour in which God is quickening dead sinners into life, He goes on to speak of another hour, the hour of the resurrection of dead bodies. For both are found in Scripture. He is quickening those dead in trespasses and sins in this hour. By-and-by He is going to quicken those whose bodies are in their tombs. “The hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation” (John 5:28). “Marvel not at this.” It is as though He said, Do not be surprised that I can quicken dead souls, that I can give eternal life to those who believe. Some day I am going to empty all the graves of earth. There is an hour coming in which all that are in the graves shall hear His voice, and shall come forth. “Well, how can that be?” you say. “Millions, untold millions, have died and their bodies have been dissolved into their chemical parts. How can they come back to life?” Nothing is impossible with God, who created these wonderful bodies. There will be a resurrection, both of the just and the unjust.
Yes, the hour is coming when all that are in the graves shall come forth. Notice that there will be two resurrections. Some people have imagined that both resurrections would take place in the same moment, that the Savior would utter His voice and that all the graves would be emptied at once. This is not exactly what our Lord said. Scripture shows that there will be two resurrections: first, a resurrection unto life, the resurrection of the just. In Revelation 20:6 we read, “Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection; on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.” And then we read that after the thousand years are expired there will be the resurrection of the wicked dead, who will stand before the Great White Throne for judgment. Two resurrections, one resurrection to life of the just, and one resurrection to the second death of the unjust. And yet they both take place in one hour? Yes, in one hour.
Remember though, how our Lord used this term. “The hour is coming and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live.” This hour began when Christ was here on earth and is still in progress. Nineteen hundred years have elapsed, and we are still living in the hour when Christ is quickening dead souls. Then we look on beyond this hour. The hour of resurrection will be at least a thousand years in length. At the beginning of that thousand years the righteous dead will be raised. At the close of the thousand years the wicked dead will be raised. The righteous dead stand before the judgment seat of Christ to be rewarded. The wicked dead rise to stand before the Great White Throne, there to answer for the awful sin of rejecting the Lord Jesus Christ and to be judged for all the sins from which they might have been delivered.
Someone says, “I am a bit perplexed about that twenty-ninth verse. It says, ‘They that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.’ Is salvation then after all based on what one does? Are we saved because we do good, and lost because we do evil?” Well, if men persist in their sins they will be judged for their evil doing. All men are lost today not merely because of the sins they have committed but because they have rejected the Lord Jesus Christ. “He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (John 3:18). Elsewhere Jesus said the Holy Spirit would come to convict of sin because they believe not in Him. That is the one great damning sin that will ruin your soul for eternity if you persist in it. If you refuse the work of the cross, if you turn away from the One who died upon that tree, then the merits of that work can never be applied to you. In the day of resurrection you will come forth from the tomb as one who has done evil, and you will have to be judged for your sins.
But now, how about the rest? Who are those who have done good or, literally, those who have practiced good? What does He mean by that? Are we saved because of our goodness? We know very well from other Scriptures that salvation is not based on human merit. “By grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-49.2.9). And again we are told, “To him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness” (Romans 4:4-45.4.5). There is no contradiction. The minute a sinner believes on the Lord Jesus Christ there is a change. That is the outward sign that he is a Christian. Immediately following that verse in Ephesians 2:0, we read, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (v. 10). If I tell you I am justified by faith, you cannot see my faith. You have no other way of knowing whether my testimony is true than by watching my life. You wonder if my life corresponds with my testimony. Do I live a Christlike life? And if I do not live such a life, you refuse my testimony. God Himself does not accept any man’s testimony if his life does not correspond. In that day it is those who have practiced good who will be raised and manifested as the children of God.
Let me stress this: just as there are two ways to live, so there are two ways to die; there are two resurrections, and following those two resurrections there are two destinies. Have you received Christ as your Savior? If so, death for you will mean to die in the Lord, and you will be raised in the first resurrection and enter into the blessings of heaven. On the other hand, if you continue to reject Him, then the day will come when you will die in your sins. Those who die in their sins will stand in the judgment and will be left in their sins through all eternity. In order that this might not be, our Lord Jesus Christ came to Calvary and gave Himself a ransom for all, a propitiation for each one who would trust in Him.
I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me. If I bear witness of myself, my witness is not true. There is another that beareth witness of me; and I know that the witness which he witnesseth of me is true. Ye sent unto John, and he bare witness unto the truth. But I receive not testimony from man: but these things I say, that ye might be saved. He was a burning and a shining light: and ye were willing for a season to rejoice in his light. But I have greater witness than that of John: for the works which the Father hath given me to finish, the same works that I do, bear witness of me, that the Father hath sent me. And the Father himself, which hath sent me, hath borne witness of me. Ye have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his shape. And ye have not his word abiding in you: for whom he hath sent, him ye believe not. Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life. I receive not honour from men. But I know you, that ye have not the love of God in you. I am come in my Father’s name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive. How can ye believe, which receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only? Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father: there is one that accuseth you, even Moses, in whom ye trust. For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me. But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?
This is a very interesting section, in which we have five distinct witnesses to the fact that our Lord Jesus Christ is the Sent One of the Father, who came into the world that through Him we might have life and have it in abundance, and that He might be the propitiation for our sins. He speaks to us as Man in the days of His humiliation here on earth. In verse 30 He says, “I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.” In this we see the Lord Jesus Christ taking the very opposite place to that which was aspired to by Lucifer of old. People often ask the question, “Why did God create a Devil?” He did not create a Devil. He created Lucifer, an archangel, but his heart was lifted up because of his beauty. Five times he set his will against God, saying, “I will.” “I will be like the most High. I will ascend unto the throne of God.” That was his ruin. Because of asserting his own will, Lucifer, the archangel, became the Devil, or Satan.
Here, in contrast to this, we have One who was in the form of God from all eternity, and yet in grace renounced the glory that He had before the world was. As the lowly Man here on earth, He refused to put forth His own power but undertook to do all His works in the energy of the Holy Spirit. He said, “I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just.” Why? Because His judgment was the judgment of God Himself. He did everything as under the authority of God, His Father. He alone of all men who have lived in this scene could always say, “I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.”
The measure in which you and I as Christians imitate our Lord in this will be the measure in which we too shall glorify God down here. We imagine sometimes that the greatest happiness we can have is to take our own way, but that is a mistake. The happiest man or woman on earth is the one who makes the will of God supreme. Jesus had no will of His own. His one desire was to do His Father’s will, for which He had been sent into the world.
Having given this declaration, He goes on to say, “If I bear witness of myself, my witness is not true” (v. 31). What does He mean? He has just declared that the Father had given everything into His hand. He has told us that some day His voice is going to cause the dead to come forth from the graves. He has declared that He is the One sent from the Father and now He says, “If I bear witness of myself [the very thing He has been doing], my witness is not true.” What does He mean by that? He means that if He alone bears witness of Himself, that testimony is not valid. We read elsewhere that “in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word shall be established” (Matthew 18:16; see also 2 Corinthians 13:1). If anyone came bearing witness on his own behalf and speaking for himself and there were no others to accredit him, his witness would be ruled out of court and, therefore, would not be valid. He says, “Now if you have to depend only upon what I say, I recognize that that would not be valid as a testimony.” Then He adds, “But I have other witnesses to corroborate what I have been telling you.” He brings four additional witnesses that give absolutely clear testimonies to the fact that He is indeed the Sent One of the Father, and all these in addition to His own declaration. He is the first witness.
The second is John the Baptist. Now it was a singular thing that the great majority looked upon John the Baptist as a prophet. The leaders in Israel refused to accept his testimony because it condemned them, but the multitude of the people believed him to be sent of God. And so the Lord Jesus says, “If you will not receive My testimony unaccredited by another, then I will summon another witness into court.” So He brings in the testimony of John. “There is another that beareth witness of me; and I know that the witness which he witnesseth of me is true” (John 5:32). Here is now a second testimony, and, therefore, two witnesses can be received in court. “I know that the witness which he witnesseth of me is true. Ye sent unto John, and he bare witness unto the truth” (vv. 32b-33). To what truth? The same truth that the Lord Himself declared. He presented Jesus and said, “He that is preferred before me…was before me.” And John the Baptist on another occasion pointed Him out and said, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). He bore witness to the fact that the Lord Jesus Christ was the appointed sacrifice who was to give Himself for our sin upon that cross of shame. And then again, John declared, “I saw, and bare [witness] that this is the Son of God” (v. 34).
Well, that is the very question. Is Jesus the Son of God? Is He the Eternal Son sent into the world to work out the plan of redemption? Jesus answered, as it were, “If I were the only one to say this you would not believe Me, but here is the one whom you thronged to hear and recognized that he was a prophet. Well, he bears witness to the same thing that I am telling you. John the Baptist tells you that I am the Son of God, the Lamb of God come to die for sinners. I am the preexistent Christ.” “But,” Jesus says, “I am not dependent upon John. I do not need his testimony to make these things valid. I am not dependent upon man’s testimony, but I say these things that you might be assured of their truth.” The Lord wanted to cut out from under their feet any ground for unbelief. He desired to make it clear that He was the Savior He professed to be. But He did not need John’s testimony, no matter how good and great he was. The truth is the truth apart from any man’s recognition of it. John was a wonderful man, “a burning and a shining light” (5:35). That witness had been silent for some time. Herod had slain him, but his testimony remained. Today we may hear the voice of John the Baptist declaring that Jesus is the Son of God, the Lamb of God, the preexistent One.
But now the Savior says, “I have another witness.” What is the third witness? “The works which the Father hath given me to finish, the same works that I do, bear witness of me, that the Father hath sent me” (v. 36). And that is the reason for the miracles of our Lord Jesus Christ. He wrought those mighty acts of power in order that He might prove that He was the Sent One of the Father. But Jesus never wrought a miracle simply to magnify Himself. They were performed to alleviate human suffering and help mankind. All this had been predicted beforehand in the Old Testament. The prophets had declared that the eyes of the blind should be opened, the ears of the deaf should be made to hear, the lame man should leap with joy, sorrow and sickness should flee away, and the prison house of sin should be opened. These things the Lord Jesus Christ fulfilled during those three years. These wonderful works and miracles, these mighty acts of His, all bore testimony to the fact that He was indeed the Sent One of the Father. Look at that poor leper. He comes to Him all covered with sores. He cries out in agony, “Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean” (Matthew 8:2). Jesus looks upon him and He, the Holy One, is not afraid of being defiled by his unclean-ness, so He puts His hand on him and says, “I will; be thou clean” (v. 3). Do you think that man doubted that Jesus was sent from the Father? Would he raise any question as to the Deity of the Son of God?
Look at the sorrowing father at Capernaum. He comes to Jesus, pleading, “Master, my only child, my little daughter, is sick. Come and heal her.” Jesus went to the home and the people came rushing out, saying, “There is no use; she is dead.” But the Lord said, “Be not afraid, only believe” (Mark 5:36). He enters into that room, takes the hand of that little dead child, and says to her tenderly in Aramaic, “Talitha cumi; which is, being interpreted, [little maid], I say unto thee, arise” (v. 41), and she opened her eyes and sat up. Do you think Jairus and his wife had any difficulty in believing that He was the Sent One of the Father?
And that poor widow outside of the city of Nain, following the funeral procession of her only son, until Jesus came and stopped it all! Mr. Moody said, “You can’t find any direction as to how to conduct a funeral service in the Bible. Jesus broke up every funeral He ever attended.” So He interfered here, and said to the young man, “I say unto thee, Arise” (Luke 7:14), and Jesus gave him to his mother. Do you think she doubted that He was the Sent One of the Father?
“The same works that I do, bear witness of me.” Go over to Bethany by that grave in the hillside and listen as Jesus cries with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth,” and see him come shuffling out, bound by grave clothes, and the two sisters rush to meet that beloved brother brought back from the dead. Any doubt there that Jesus is the Sent One of the Father? These were the works that bore witness of Him.
And then the most wonderful thing of all, when at last He Himself had died and yielded His spirit to the Father, and His body had been laid away in the tomb, and on the third day He came forth and was declared to be the Son of God with power. Yes, the works of Jesus bear witness to the fact that He is the Son of God.
We have had three witnesses. Now there is another, in verses 37-38, “And the Father himself, which hath sent me, hath borne witness of me. Ye have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his shape. And ye have not his word abiding in you: for whom he hath sent, him ye believe not.” How did the Father bear witness to the fact that Jesus was His Eternal Son, sent into the world for our salvation? When the Savior offered Himself at the Jordan to become the substitute for our sins and John baptized Him there, when He came up from the watery grave, the heavens were opened and the Spirit of God was seen descending like a dove, and the Father’s voice was heard saying, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased [or, in whom I have found all my delight]” (Matthew 3:17; Mark 1:11; Luke 3:22). This was the Father’s testimony. Not only then, but on the Mount of Transfiguration, once more the Father said, “This is my beloved Son,… hear ye him” (Matthew 17:5; Mark 9:7; Luke 9:35). And later on when Jesus on that other occasion lifted up His voice and said, “Father, glorify thy name,” a voice was heard from heaven saying, “I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again” (John 12:28). Three times the voice of the Father was heard from heaven accrediting the person and the mission of His blessed Son while here on earth, and yet these people who professed to believe in God as their Father did not hear His voice. The disciples heard it, but these hard, critical, legalistic men never heard the voice of the Father.
Have you heard it? Have you heard the Father’s voice speaking in your heart? Have you heard Him saying to you, “This is My beloved Son, I want you to find your delight in Him”? Oh, the Father still delights to accredit the Lord Jesus Christ.
Then there is a fifth witness. Verse 39 says, “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.” Most scholars, I think, understand that opening expression as a definite statement rather than a command, and they read it like this, as indicated in the margin, “Ye search the scriptures.” Whether they are right or whether our translators were right, I do not pretend to say. Both might speak to our hearts. Certainly the Spirit of God again and again commands us to search this blessed Word. But if we take it as a statement rather than a command, it is the same in principle. He was talking to these leaders in Israel. They read and studied their Bibles, and He said to them, “Ye search the Scriptures, believing that in them ye have eternal life.” That is, you take it for granted that you are going to have life by becoming familiar with and obeying the Scripture, but unless you trust the One of whom the Scripture speaks, you will not have eternal life. In 2 Timothy 3:0, when speaking to a man who had been brought up on the Word of God, the apostle said, “From a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (v. 15).
Notice that it is not simply familiarity with the Bible that will give you eternal life. It is becoming acquainted with the blessed Son, who is the theme of the story. So Jesus says, “You have the Bible. Go back into the Old Testament, and as you read the Old Testament you will find that there they are speaking of Me.” He was the theme of the entire Old Testament. All the Levitical types spoke of Him. All the prophets gave witness to Him. He was the One who rebuked the adversary in the days of Zechariah, the prophet. All through the Old Testament we have Jesus preached in type and in prophecy. “They are they which testify of me.” The Scripture tells of Jesus and Christ authenticates the Scriptures. Prophecy after prophecy was fulfilled in Him.
He shows that the entire Old Testament is the Word of the living God. Now He says, “You read your Bible, and yet you will not come to Me that you might have eternal life” (John 5:39-43.5.40, author’s paraphrase). My dear friend, do you know Christ? You are familiar with the Bible, and I know some of you are depending upon that knowledge for salvation. Have you received the Christ of whom that Book speaks? Have you trusted the Savior of whom the prophets wrote? Have you believed in the One who came in grace to die for sinners? This is the theme of the whole Bible. It is a pitiful thing to pretend to honor the Bible while rejecting the Christ of the Bible.
His words imply that all men may come to Him if they will. There are some people who imagine that some are not welcome, but Jesus would not use language like this if it did not include everybody. “Whosoever will may come.” If you are lost at last, it will be because you would not come: “Ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.”
Now the Savior says, “I receive not honour from men” (v. 41). He did not want their patronage, but He desired men to accept the salvation that He had come to provide. “But I know you [and He could say that as no other], that ye have not the love of God in you” (v. 42). He was here to do the will of the Father and yet they would not have Him. He warns them of the coming Antichrist, the false Messiah. He says, “If another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive” (v. 43). Who is this other? It is that willful king of the eleventh of Daniel, that idol shepherd of Zechariah, the false prophet of Revelation, the lawless one of 2 Thessalonians 2, a sinister figure yet to arise in this world. Men who will not have Christ will bow down to him.
It is a very serious thing to reject Christ, to spurn the salvation that God has provided. How many a young man has sat in a gospel meeting, under deep conviction, but has thought of what this one and that one of his friends will think of him if he confesses Christ! How many a young woman has known that she should be saved, but someone whom she esteems very highly keeps her back, for she says, “What will he think of me if I do that?” Unless you put God first, you will never be able to believe. Once come to the place where you say, “I can’t allow myself to be turned aside from that which is right and true because of any other interest, even the opinion of those nearest and dearest to me. I must seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and then, the Lord Jesus says, the other things will be added to me.” Have you been kept from confessing Christ because of the fear of man? Remember that those who would hinder are just poor human beings like yourself and soon will have to give account to God.
“Well,” you say, “then is He going to accuse us?” Oh, no. “Think not that I will accuse you to the Father.” But He adds-and oh, it had point to those Jews-”There is one that accuseth you, even Moses” (v. 45). Moses accuse? How and whom does he accuse? Moses accuses all who reject his testimony, and he predicts dire judgment. And so Jesus adds, “Had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me” (v. 46). This is the answer to those who say, “Well, we do not believe that those first five books were written by Moses.” But Jesus says, “Moses wrote of Me,” and thus He puts His seal upon these books, declaring that Moses wrote them-“For he wrote of me.”
Those prophecies written by Moses were written of Christ. Those types represented Christ. When Moses wrote, “The LORD thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken” (Deuteronomy 18:15), Moses was writing and speaking of the Lord Jesus Christ. And so the Savior says, “If ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?” (v. 47). If men will not receive the testimony of the Old Testament, they will not receive the testimony of Christ. The two are so linked together that they can never be separated.
So we have five witnesses. There is His own testimony, there is the testimony of John the Baptist, there are the miracles He performed, there is the witness of His Father’s voice, and there is the Word of God, the Bible. All agree in this, that Jesus is the Son of God, which should come into the world. Have you received Him?
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Ironside, H. A. "Commentary on John 5". Ironside's Notes on Selected Books. https://www.studylight.org/
Second Sunday after Epiphany