Sapphire Sky

January 18, 2015

Jesus says that he is God

Filed under: theology — Tags: — Steve Knaus @ 5:12 pm

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! 

 

Previous Post: Can You Have Too Much Faith?


John 5:16-47

And this was why the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because he was doing these things on the Sabbath. But Jesus answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I am working.”

This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.

So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing. And greater works than these will he show him, so that you may marvel. For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will. The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him. 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.

“Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man. Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.

“I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me. If I alone bear witness about myself, my testimony is not true. There is another who bears witness about me, and I know that the testimony that he bears about me is true. You sent to John, and he has borne witness to the truth. Not that the testimony that I receive is from man, but I say these things so that you may be saved. He was a burning and shining lamp, and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light. But the testimony that I have is greater than that of John. For the works that the Father has given me to accomplish, the very works that I am doing, bear witness about me that the Father has sent me. And the Father who sent me has himself borne witness about me. His voice you have never heard, his form you have never seen, and you do not have his word abiding in you, for you do not believe the one whom he has sent. 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. I do not receive glory from people. But I know that you do not have the love of God within you. I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not receive me. If another comes in his own name, you will receive him. How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God? Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father. There is one who accuses you: Moses, on whom you have set your hope. For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?”


 

And this was why the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because he was doing these things on the Sabbath. But Jesus answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I am working.”

The backdrop of this discourse is that Jesus has just healed a man on the Sabbath and told him to carry his bed.  Jesus does not respond by defending his actions on the Sabbath, nor does he go after their distortion of Sabbath laws.  Both of these are valid points and Jesus uses them on other occasions (see Matthew 12:1–14).  Instead, Jesus uses their accusation as an opportunity to talk about his deity.  He can do what he wants on the Sabbath, because he is God.

Jewish rabbis would long debate over whether God would work on the Sabbath.  They finally concluded that God needed to work on the Sabbath in order to hold the universe together.  However, it was “light work” [1].  Jesus responds directly that he is equal with God: he is working on the Sabbath, just like God his Father is working on the Sabbath.  Jesus is saying that he is both one with God, and that he is doing the same work as God.  Jesus will elaborate on this in much more detail in this passage.

Jesus is also making a distinction between God the Father and himself.  All throughout this passage, Jesus is is going back and forth between talking about the Father and the Son.  We see that the Father and the Son are distinct persons, yet they are equals and are completely unified.  This is a new concept to the First-Century Jewish listeners.

 

This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.

The relationship between father and son here is lost in our culture.  Jesus is saying that he is the same nature or essence as God.  For example, James and John were called “sons of thunder”, probably because of their explosive tempers (Mark 3:17).  Jesus called Judas the “son of destruction” (John 17:12).  Barnabas was given the nickname of “son of encouragement” (Acts 4:36-37).  At one point, Paul even called his opposer a “son of the devil” (Acts 13:8-10).  The point is that when Jesus calls himself the Son of God, he is not saying that he is less than God.  He is saying that he is equal to God.

The Jews understood this completely.  Note their reaction.  They were simply against him after his work on the Sabbath, but now they wanted to kill him!  He had just said that he was equal to God!

 

So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing.

Jesus starts out his reply with “truly, truly”.  He will repeat this phrase again later on in this same discourse.  Jesus commonly uses this phrase to begin a critical statement (see also John 3:3).  This statement, “truly, truly” could be translated as “I am telling you the truth”. Jesus is responding to their lies with a statement of truth.

Jesus is saying here that his works are equal to God the Father.  The Father and the Son do not work independently of each other.  Everything that God the Father is doing, Jesus is doing too (including holding the universe together).  Everything that Jesus is doing, God the Father is doing too.

There are also no secrets between the Father and the Son.  Jesus knows everything that the Father is doing.  The Father and the Son are together in utmost love and unity.

 

And greater works than these will he show him, so that you may marvel. For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will.

Jesus is also equal to the Father in giving life. Jesus gives life in both the physical world and the spiritual world.  He will demonstrate his power to give physical life later on when he raises Lazarus from the dead.  He has already been giving life to the spiritually dead, such as Nicodemus and the Samaritan woman in the previous chapters.

 

The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him.

Jesus is also equal to the Father in authority.  The Son has the final judgement and receives the same honor as the Father.

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

This verse reads more like an interjection in the middle of Jesus’ discourse.  Jesus is telling the Jews (using the third person) why he is equal to God and that he commands both life and judgement.  He is about to pronounce judgement on them for their unbelief.  But before handing judgement, Jesus makes one more appeal to believe.  Note that he jumps to the first person for this appeal.

You don’t need to do anything to be judged.  You are already judged.  But those who believe will be saved (John 3:18).

“This is the illusion of religion, that you live your life and you do good, and you do good, and you do good and if the good outweighs the bad, you know, God’s keeping a record and at the end He’ll make a judgment.  No.  You’ve been judged already.” [2]

 

“Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself.

God gives life because God is life.  God the Son laid aside the independent exercise of his divine attributes when he came to earth and became a human.  The statements that God the Father has granted the Son the authority to give life and judgement are likely saying that Jesus was given this during his ministry on earth.  He already had this authority in heaven but it is now granted to him while in his limited form as a human.

an hour is coming, and is now here” shows that Jesus is giving life in both the present and the future.  Jesus has not physically raised people from the dead (yet), but more important is their spiritual life.  Jesus has already been giving life to the spiritually dead (John 1:4).

 

And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man. Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.

This is future, physical resurrection (“an hour is coming”).  There will be a future, physical, bodily resurrection for all people. Some will be resurrected to eternal life, and some will be resurrected to eternal judgement.

For the only time in this passage, Jesus calls himself the “Son of Man” when talking about judgement.  Jesus is fully qualified to judge mankind because he was a man.

The emphasis here is on people’s actions during judgement.  This seems counter to the rest of John’s gospel at first glance, since the message is to believe (John 5:24), but our beliefs define our actions (James 2:14-26). The actions are the evidence of what we have believed.

 

“I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me. If I alone bear witness about myself, my testimony is not true.

The tone of Jesus’ discourse changes.  He moves from the third person to the first person.  He has just made some very severe claims, including that he is equal to God and that he is bringing both life and judgement.  The Old Testament laws required that accusations could only be made with the evidence of two or three witnesses (Deut 17:6, Deut 19:15). Jesus now provides witnesses for his claims to be God and their consequent unbelief.

The comment, “my testimony is not true”, could be better understood as “you have no reason to believe me if I am the only one talking about myself”.  In legal terms, he needs witnesses.

Jesus has made claims that he is equal to God.  He will now present witnesses to show that he is doing the will of God the Father (the one who sent him).

 

There is another who bears witness about me, and I know that the testimony that he bears about me is true. You sent to John, and he has borne witness to the truth. Not that the testimony that I receive is from man, but I say these things so that you may be saved. He was a burning and shining lamp, and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light.

 Jesus uses John the Baptist as the first witness.  The Jews followed John and believed him to be a prophet (Matthew 21:24-26).  Even the Jewish leaders sent a delegation to listen to him and find out more about him (John 1:19).  But John clearly said that Jesus was the coming Messiah (John 1:26-27, John 1:29-30).

 

But the testimony that I have is greater than that of John. For the works that the Father has given me to accomplish, the very works that I am doing, bear witness about me that the Father has sent me.

 Jesus shows his miracles as even greater proof than John the Baptist.  Note that the Jewish leaders never denied Jesus’ miracles.  They tried to excuse them but they could never deny them.

 

And the Father who sent me has himself borne witness about me. His voice you have never heard, his form you have never seen, and you do not have his word abiding in you, for you do not believe the one whom he has sent. 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 finally points to the scriptures themselves.  The Jews had followed John the Baptist and they had seen Jesus’ miracles.  But above all else, they took pride in their knowledge of scriptures.  They don’t just look at the scriptures, they scrutinize every detail of scriptures.  These men have spent their lives looking for the Messiah, but when he comes they refuse to believe. The Old Testament Scriptures form the greatest evidence for Jesus as the Messiah (see the link here for a detailed account of the how the Messiah is shown through the Old Testament).

 Don’t miss the critical point here.  They know their Bibles but they don’t know God.  They understand and have seen the proof, yet they refuse to believe.

 

I do not receive glory from people. But I know that you do not have the love of God within you. I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not receive me. If another comes in his own name, you will receive him. How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?

Jesus has completely shifted the conversation now from himself to the Jews.  He has already pointed out that he is God.  They have seen the evidence, yet they still refuse to believe.  Jesus follows with a series of scathing indictments:

  • Jesus receives no glory from them because they do not love God.
  • They are ready to follow false leaders but they refuse the one who comes in God’s name.
  • They cannot believe because they are trying to seek glory for themselves.

 

Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father. There is one who accuses you: Moses, on whom you have set your hope. For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?

 The final indictment comes from their most revered leader, Moses.  Moses wrote about the Messiah and they refuse to believe him. Moses is the writer of the first five books of the Old Testament and he represents the entire Old Testament law.  Their condemnation will not come from Jesus, but from the very scriptures that they profess to follow.

 


 

[1] John MacArthur, The Most Startling Claim Ever Made, Part 1, John 5:17-20

[2] John MacArthur, The Most Startling Claim Ever Made, Part 2, John 5:21-24

5 Comments »

  1. Can I ask how you put a link on there to your previous post

    Comment by tayburn27 — January 18, 2015 @ 7:00 pm

    • Technically, it should be very easy if you are using the WordPress editor. Select text and then click on the link icon. The dialog box then gives you an option for either pasting in the link to another page or by selecting from a list of recent blog pages below. I would be glad to contact you directly if you want to talk further.

      Comment by Steve Knaus — January 26, 2015 @ 1:17 am

  2. […] Previous post: Jesus says that he is God […]

    Pingback by How do you handle interruptions? | Sapphire Sky — February 13, 2015 @ 1:36 am

  3. […] produced several more witnesses to his deity, showing them that they are without excuse (See the study of John 5 for more […]

    Pingback by Light of the World | Sapphire Sky — April 19, 2015 @ 12:03 am

  4. […] Up to this point, Jesus has taught extensively about God the Father and God the Son. As seen in John 5, the Father and the Son are totally equal and abide together in total […]

    Pingback by The Holy Spirit | Sapphire Sky — August 24, 2015 @ 10:31 pm


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