Who is Jesus?
I started out this study of John’s Gospel account with this same question: “Who is Jesus?“.
In only five chapters so far, Jesus’ actions have demonstrated who he is:
- He has superior knowledge. He knows Philip, Peter. And Nathanael in John 1. He knows the Samaritan woman in John 4.
- He has power over natural elements in John 2.
- He has authority over the temple worship in John 2.
- He knows more than the greatest teachers in John 3.
- He is greater than John the Baptist in John 3.
- He breaks down prejudice and social stigma in John 4.
- His power is not confined by distance in John 4.
- He is above superstitions and religious rituals in John 5.
Jesus has come with a specific message: There is a spiritual world beyond what we see here (John 3:1-15, John 4:7-15). Jesus is the Messiah and we need to believe in him (John 1:12, John 2:11, John 2:23-25, John 3:14-18, John 3:36, John 4:41-42, John 4:48, John 4:53).
But why should you believe in Jesus? Jesus takes the time in this chapter (John 5) to give one of the clearest and most direct reasons for why you should believe in him. He also warns you that if you don’t believe in him, you are separated from God and are headed for judgment.
Jesus has just healed a man and told him to “work” on the Sabbath. This draws an immediate response from the Jewish leaders, who are angered at him for breaking their Sabbath traditions. And what is Jesus’ response?
He agrees with them.
But Jesus then tells them that he can do what he wants on the Sabbath because he is God!
Jesus shows them in specific ways that he is equal to God. He then shows them the evidence of why they should believe him. He finally concludes by condemning them for refusing to believe, even in the face of overwhelming evidence.
Jesus claims that God is his father. The Jews fully understood that this means that he is equal to God. Being the son does not mean that he is any less than God the Father. It means that they are “of the same essence”, or that they are equal. See below for more detailed examples showing that the son is equal to the father.
It is important to note that this is a new concept to the Jews. They knew that God was one (Deut 6:4). Although God is referenced in the Old Testament in the plural (e.g. Genesis 1:26), the Old Testament Jews had no understanding of the Trinity. Even the disciples had trouble understanding this (Matt 16:16-17). Therefore, Jesus starts or by going into great detail how the Father and the Son are equal. The Father and the Son are distinct persons, yet they are equals and are completely unified:
- The Son is equal to the Father in his works.
- There are no secrets between the Father and the Son.
- The Son is equal to the Father in giving life.
- The Son is equal to the Father in authority and judgment.
Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.
Jesus interjects his talk on judgment with a final appeal to believe. Those who believe will be rescued from the coming judgment.
A time is coming when all people will be raised from the dead. Those who believe will be raised again to life. Those who do not believe will be raised again to judgement.
Jesus then gives evidence that what he is saying is true:
- John the Baptist spoke of him. They followed John the Baptist but refuse to believe when he spoke of Jesus Christ.
- Jesus’ miracles authenticated who he was. They all witnessed his miracles yet refused to believe his message.
- God the Father has himself spoken about Jesus through the Old Testament scriptures. They study the scriptures but they don’t know God because they missed his message about the Messiah.
You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.
Jesus delivers a final condemnation on the unbelieving Jews. They know the facts, but they don’t know God. They don’t love God because they are caught up with themselves. They have seen the evidence and they understand what Jesus is saying, but they simply refuse to believe!
It is easy for us to know a lot of facts and details about Jesus Christ. We can learn a lot but our knowledge will never give us life. We need to believe in Jesus Christ and submit to him. That will give us life!
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