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Jesus in this passage continues to clarify who He is and why He has come. He is very God of very God, our judge, our high priest, our king. One of the greatest dangers in the church today is going through the motions, living life as a "cultural Christian". In assenting intellectually to His claims or even in giving Jesus prominence yet not preeminence, we may not in reality belong to Him at all.
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Scott: We're two people who, five years ago, would've considered ourselves as Christian as anybody else. I think my life was like probably a lot of guys sitting in churches today. You know, I had a very limited knowledge of who God was, and it wasn't rooted in his Word. It was more about being good, doing good. I loved my wife. I was trying to be the best that I could be in regard to a father to my kids and a business owner and a friend.
Sally: I'm definitely a doer, and I had started my own business and was raising my children and was trying to, you know, keep it together in the home. I just always had a heavy weight on my shoulders, like I was responsible for everybody and everything.
Scott: My value and my worth as a guy was in my mind based on where I lived, what kind of car I drove, what kind of house I lived in…material things.
Sally: We have some neighbors who are dear, dear friends, and really, I thought they were weird. I would drive by the park and see, you know, hundreds of people getting baptized, and I just didn't understand. I just didn't get it, so I walked down the street, and I said to Blake and Rebecca, "I just don't get why y'all want to get baptized in that gross creek."
Blake: Scott and Sally moved onto Rebecca's and my street just three doors down about seven years ago.
Rebecca: I talked with Sally sitting in this same backyard about the Watermark baptisms and just, "I don't know what y'all are doing and why you have to do it in the creek and why there are so many people out there. It's strange to drive by and see all those people out there on a Sunday."
Blake: And then just frankly just telling us that she was concerned for us, that aren't we over the top? Aren't we taking this a little too seriously, and what were all those people doing? There was just a real suspicion. I mean, it was different from the way our church did it, you know.
Sally: But it just wasn't even that. It was just the whole, "You know, I could tell something was different. They lived differently."
Scott: There was joy.
Sally: There was joy, and there was peace, and I just was struggling all the time.
Blake: Anxiety, I think, is what marked most of their lives beforehand.
Sally: I drank a lot. I went out with my girlfriends, but that didn't work. I wasn't that great of a mother. I wasn't really doing anything great in my life.
Scott: I remember, you know, coaching a football team, helping coach with Todd and having a couple of boys the same age and by no means seeking a church but seeking what I didn't know at the time was a relationship. I was looking for someone, I think, who would help me understand God's Word. I was open to hearing more about who he was.
As I started to be introduced to God's Word and read it and start to understand it, you know, I realized that my life was being lived in a way that was all about the now. As I started to understand, you know, how biblical manhood looks in accepting responsibility and leading courageously and not being passive and, you know, living to expect God's greater reward, having an eternal perspective, it's 180 degrees.
Blake: Scott went from being a, what he describes as a cultural Christian, where he knew Christianity in his head… He knew the facts. He could pass the doctrinal statement, but it was far from something that was in his heart. It was far from a relationship that motivated and guided his relationships with others. I would just say Scott went from being a cultural Christian to somebody who's living life on purpose.
Sally: Scott had found the Lord, and I honestly thought he was a little crazy, especially when Ryan, our son, got sick. Ryan was 10 and had kidney failure and ended up in a hospital fighting for his life. Our life as we knew it was completely turned upside-down; fear, anger, confusion, all those things, all those emotions we were feeling. I just wanted to do anything and everything I could to cure him or fix him, and one night, we were out to dinner with some friends.
I think they got tired of me just talking about my lack of faith. He told me to go to the book of Habakkuk. I thought he was making that up because I'd never even heard of that book before, so I went home that night. I was angry at him because, you know, I felt like he didn't understand where I was, and I think when you're going through hard times, you're thinking no one can understand.
I opened up the Bible to the book of Habakkuk, and I read the last chapter, and at that point, I just realized that, even though my circumstances may not change, the Lord is good and the Lord loves me, and everything changed. I understand what forgiveness looks like now. I've made some really bad choices in my life that caused me a lot of pain and grief and shame, but he has set me free. What's really weird is that I went and got baptized last year in May, and he has forgiven my sins, and I'm different. I'm changed.
Blake: Well, the Bible says that, therefore, anyone in Christ is a new creation. The old is gone, and the new has come. I can't imagine how that could be more true of anyone than Scott and Sally Michael.
Sally: I don't have the baggage. I don't have the pressure. I don't have the heavy shoulders anymore.
[End of video]
Well, I want to tell you it was just five years ago I first was coaching a little third-grade boys basketball team, and Scott Michael's son was on it, and he and I struck up a friendship, and that journey started. It turns out his neighbors were Blake and Rebecca. They started building into him and loving into him.
When I spoke to her that night at that little restaurant and said, "Hey, Sally, you're saying that you know Jesus, but you're not speaking like somebody who knows the goodness of God. You're saying you know the goodness of God, but you're not living in the reality of that in the midst of what he's given you the gift to honor him in the midst of."
I mentioned that book Habakkuk, and I talked about Habakkuk's attitude in the midst of chaos that was unexplainable. She realized that, like her husband was a cultural believer, which means he wasn't a true believer, she was caught up in what largely, in the South especially still and our country for many years, is what was true of what most Americans believe: the Judeo-Christian ethic is a good one, and the story of Jesus is acceptable.
They believe he was, in fact, this man who came and lived and died, and we celebrate and honor him as God, and Easter's a good idea, but it did not ever become something that they laid hold of. It was never something they believed actionably in, and their lives, therefore, represented much of that.
They were decent, moral people, fun people, lost people without God and without hope in this world, and then they came to him. They were thrilled to declare that to others, and they declare it every day in the way they continue to walk with him, confess their sins, acknowledge now when they don't follow him, and they move on.
We hope you find that same experience here, not so you'll be baptized but so you will enjoy the God who loves you and, in enjoying him, happily declare to others the transformation that has happened to you. Well, let's make a little transition here. We're going to get ready now. I want to just pray for us as we look to John 5. I do want to say this. I humbly confess, on Thursday, I did something I've never done before. It's not structural. My back just locked up on me.
If I go down (I might go down today), it's not a heart attack. Don't freak out. There's not a demon that has come into or the Spirit that has fallen upon me. It is just that I am weak right now and happy to be standing, so if you see me buckle and go down, don't freak out, just let me get back up, or Gary and Burk get me back up, and we'll go again. All good! All right. Daggum! Fifty is not fun. I'm getting close. There's a first time for everything.
Lord, I thank you for health. I thank you for how you give us health to use in service of you. I thank you for how you give us humbling moments, sometimes long seasons, sometimes lives that are defined by wheelchairs, pain, cancer, and disease, and how even when we go through that, we have a chance to honor you in the midst of that.
We want to say, Father, whether we are physically strong and able like never before or whether death is creeping on us in some very real way, that you are good and that we love you and we want to use where we are to serve you in all of the fullness of that strength today, but we say that, ultimately, it's you who makes us strong.
We want to be strong spirituality. We want to be rightly related to you and connected to you and live lives that are representative of your kindness and goodness. Help us to do that. Use this time and this Scripture to bring us closer to you. We thank you, Father, for this day and the chance to be strong in the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
Well, turn to John 5 with me. We have been working our way through. The last time we were in John 5, I reminded you of kind of how we got here and what John is doing. He's grabbing stories in order to reveal to you who this Jesus is. Now we're about to look at a number of verses today. We're going to review 19 through 24 and then really take 25 down through verse 29.
This is Jesus on Jesus. That's what we titled the last time that we were together. This is what Christ thought of himself. I said last week, "If Jesus isn't God, somebody should tell him because he sure thinks he is." I'll say this, "If Jesus wasn't God, somebody should tell his enemies because they thought he thought he was God."
There is this healing that happened on the Sabbath. Now why did this healing happen? Why did Christ cleanse the temple? Why did he do what he did on the Sabbath? Why did he heal the nobleman's son? All these things are done and recorded so that you might start to get a glimpse of who Jesus is.
Jesus goes into the temple, and he wipes out the sacrificial system that's there, not because it was wrong. He was disgusted with the way they were using it to oppress people and feather their own beds, those who were in positions of spiritual leadership, but he was saying, "Look, we no longer need the sacrifices because the perfect sacrifice is about to be here and come. You're not going to approach God by faith that one day a sacrifice would be sufficient for your sins because that sacrifice for your sins is going to be here."
He's going to change the order of worship. He's going to say, "A time is coming and now is, when those who worship the Father will worship him in spirit and truth, for those are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks." He's going to say to a woman a little bit later, "Listen, not on this mountain or in Jerusalem will they worship the Father. A time is coming, and now is when you'll just worship God where you because of the work that he has finished for you."
What Jesus is doing is he's walking into the temple, and they go, "You cannot do that in God's house." Jesus says, "Oh yes I can because this is my house." They go, "It's God's house." He goes, "Exactly, it's my house." On the Sabbath day, he does some things. He never violates the law of the Sabbath but violates the traditions of men that have become burdensome to people, that have become that which stole away the joy that God intended to give them.
"I'm your God. I'm your provider. Don't work your fingers to a nub. Be diligent." He would say, "In all labor there is profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty." He would say, "Listen, at the end of the day, unless I bless you, unless I'm with you, unless I protect you, it doesn't matter how much you build and how much you effort, so enjoy each other. Enjoy me.
Focus on the God who brings rain to the earth and brings crops from the dirt. Focus on the God who gives you a love for one another. Delight in me. Rest. Be still. I am your provider. The Sabbath wasn't there for man to be burdened by it." Jesus said, "No, man wasn't made for Sabbath. The Sabbath was made for man. It's a gift."
They go, "Hey, you can't come and tell us what to do on this day. This is the Lord's day." He goes, "Exactly, it's my day. I'll tell you what I'm doing, and I'm not passive on this day. You guys are upset at me because I told this guy to be well, because I delivered him from the affliction that is the kingdom of darkness that's defined by oppression and error and darkness and blindness and lameness and deceit? No, I have come to set people free from all those things."
Let me just say it to you this way. The reason that Jesus did all that he did when he was here is that he was trying to share with you, "This is who God is." That's when he said, "Look, the reason I work on the Sabbath is because my Father works on the Sabbath. He has been working since the day that you left him, because he's a rescuing God, a loving God, a redeeming God.
He hates that you're lame. He hates that you're blind. He hates that your ears can't hear. He hates that you cannot see who he is, so just like he has been rescuing you from that moment that you gave yourself over to sin, because my Father is working, I am working, because I and the Father are the same."
That's when the Jews said, "All right, this guy isn't just challenging our structure. We don't just have to be against this guy because he makes us look small; we have to kill this guy and crucify him because he thinks he is God." What you're going to find is that, right here, John is going to let Jesus go. From verse 19 all the way down through the end of the chapter, it is all red ink…why?
John is going to say to you, "I've told you what he's done. I've told you that he is sovereign over time and processes. He can create things that cannot otherwise be created this way. He can turn water into wine. He is sovereign over time and space. He doesn't need to be physically present to heal somebody because he's omnipotent.
He is all-powerful and all-present, and you can trust him. That's the healing of the nobleman's son. The reason he can cleanse the temple is because he's the temple's owner. It's his house. The reason he can do what he wants on the Sabbath is because the Sabbath is his day. Now let him speak for himself." So off we go.
Now let me just say this. Before I want to read to you John, chapter 5, I want to remind you why he does these things. Why did Jesus, if you will, cast out demons? It's because, in his kingdom, there is no demonic presence. Why did Jesus, when people were weeping, do things to restore joy? It's because there is no weeping in his kingdom. Why did Jesus heal infirmity and disease when he was here? It was not because he was installing the kingdom.
He had other work to do. The reason that he did it when he was here is to say, "This is what defines my kingdom. This is what my world is to be like. It's paradise, and there is no weeping. There is no deceit. There is no darkness. There is no death." When he would go and do these things, those things in and of themselves were not what he was using to bring people to him.
He was saying, "Look, I am just affirming that I have the right to say these things, because anybody can say them, but very few people can do them, so I'm doing these things not so you'll believe in me because I do them but so you will know that I can say the things I'm saying." After a while, he stopped doing things. In fact, they brought a paralytic to him one other time, and he saw the guy, and he said, "Hey, I see that you believe that I am God and I am good. Your sins are forgiven."
Then he looked at the guys because they started to whisper, "This man blasphemes." Knowing the evil that was in their hearts, he says, "Why do you sit there and say those things? Don't you know that the Son of Man has the authority on earth to forgive sins and in heaven to forgive sins. What is easier to say to somebody, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or 'Get up and walk'? So that you might know that the Son of Man is who he says he is, that I have the authority to forgive sins…"
By the way, why would they say, "You can't do that"? It's because they felt, "God's the one you sinned against. You can't tell somebody, 'You're forgiven,' because only God can forgive." Jesus goes, "Exactly! That's why I told him he's forgiven and so that you might know that I have that authority, that I am who I say I am, 'Get up. Take your pallet and walk.'" The man did.
See, that's why he did these things. That's why he's around a lot of infirm people there in Bethesda who were trusting in the ways of the world, in the provision of the world, in the belief system of the world to give them rest and deliverance from their infirmities that was never really going to give them deliverance.
They were going to die anyway, but he just grabbed one man, and he healed that one man…why? It's because he's trying to show, "Look, in my kingdom, there is no death. There is no disease." The Jesus in John 5, when he came, he came to deal with that which separates you from the good King, whose kingdom doesn't have death and darkness and error and weeping.
He says, "I came to restore you back to him by making you new by giving you, if you will, imparting to you a beauty, a dignity to adorn you in that which makes you fitting for the presence of a King, that you are pure, without error. I'm going to show you a picture of that in a minute, but I have to restore you and make you right. I'm going to do that in ways you can't believe, but this is what my kingdom looks like.
This earth that is chaotic and has tornados that kill people and has death and isolation is not my kingdom. Do you want to know what my kingdom is like? It's the lame walking. It's the blind seeing. It's the deaf hearing. It is absent of hate, absent of tears, absent of politics, absent of poverty." All of it defines our world today. He's looking to restore it.
Keep your hand in John 5 because we're going to read it. Revelation 21 shows you this kingdom. When this Jesus in John 5 comes back, this is John's vision of the end of Jesus' story. He is here to do what he has to do so we can get to where we can enjoy this. When God comes to judge evil, if you are not covered in his provision, if you are not protected, then you will be consumed.
Let me say it to you this way. We had a lot of fires out just west of us here that many folks in our body were affected by. One of the things that was done by groups who were out there trying to preserve homes is they set fire. While the fire of judgment was coming, they dug ditches. They knocked over trees about 50 yards away from their houses, and then they lit a fire that would start to go the other way. What they did is they burned the ground.
That's what they would do in the prairie. When there was a prairie fire coming, what you would do is light a fire where you were and let judgment go over that land. As you could see the fire coming this way, you'd let the fire go here and that way, and then you would stand on the burned ground, so when the fire would come it wouldn't consume you because you were standing on ground that had already been judged, already been burnt, had already, if you will, received the curse.
What we do as believers is stand on the ground where God has already satisfied his justice. We take the wrath that he poured out on Jesus, and we clothe ourselves in it by faith, so when the justice of God comes, he has imputed or given to us that which we do not own. We have taken his righteousness, so death passes over us because judgment has already been satisfied where we stand in Christ.
We are beautiful in his eyes. When he comes to set up his kingdom, if you will, and we are still here, if we are in Christ, we are not in trouble because judgment has consumed and satisfied his wrath there. When he does come, this is what it's going to look like. Look at Revelation 21, verses 1 through 6.
"Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, 'Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them…'"
This is what it's going to look like when God himself comes in all of his glory, not to restore his glory, not to reveal his glory but to establish it forever. See, Jesus was here to reveal the glory of God, to accomplish the good will of God, to redeem those who were far from it as an expression of God being full of lovingkindness and mercy.
He said, "I'm not here yet to establish my kingdom fully on this earth. That will come in another day. I'll leave a remnant of it here. I'll show you a glimpse of what is to come, but the age of glory will wait while the age of grace continues, and I expect my servants to do war in it and to suffer well in it in their own infirmity and weakness, in their own weeping because I will use this age of grace, until I establish my age of glory, to bring others into my rest." In verses 4 and 5, it says:
"…He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away. And He who sits on the throne said, 'Behold, I am making all things new.' And He said, 'Write, for these words are faithful and true.' Then He said to me, 'It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost.'"
You need to know this about Jesus. He said, "Whether you're in or out of that kingdom has everything to do with me." Now look, in Hebrews, chapter 4, verse 12, this is what it says. It says, "For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart."
In other words, the Word of God will pierce you. It will show you right and wrong. It will expose in you that which is not right and will declare to you that which is. Guess what? The living Word of God is the same thing. Jesus says, "I will divide men." In Luke, this is what is said about Jesus in Luke, chapter 12, verses 49 and following. This is Jesus speaking.
"I have come to cast fire upon the earth; and how I wish it were already kindled! But I have a baptism to undergo…" What he's saying there is, "I'm going to identify myself with death." "…and how distressed I am until it is accomplished!""Because I hate sin. I hate darkness. I hate that my people are held bondage."
"Do you suppose that I came to grant peace on earth? I tell you, no, but rather division; for from now on five members in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law."
They will divide over him. Who is this Jesus? He is the dividing line, and he is not afraid to say, "You have to deal with me." They said, "You can't do that on the Sabbath." He goes, "Yes, I can because my Father is working on the Sabbath, and I must do everything he does." Now I'm going to read you John, chapter 5, verses 19 through 24, and then I'm going to come… We taught on this the last time we were in the book of John together.
I want to just paraphrase this for you very, very clearly. I'm going to give you the Todd Wagner version of John 5:19-24, but let's get the good one first. Here we go. In John 5:19, Jesus, when they said, "You can't do that. You're calling yourself God," said this new revelation. "I'm not quoting a rabbi, not the Mishneh. This isn't the Talmud. I say this to you as one who can speak from his own bank of goodness and revelation to men."
"Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner. For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself is doing; and the Father will show Him greater works than these, so that you will marvel.""You're not going to believe what the Father is going to do through me."
"For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son also gives life to whom He wishes. For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son, so that all will honor the Son even as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him. Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life."
Those words are so crystal clear that, when you hear them, it ought to just offend you to no end or go, "I have to hear more concerning this man because, if he is who he says he is, if he is the one who can establish the kingdom, if he is the one who will make me right for the King when he returns, if he is one who can take me out of the judgment that is due me and give me life, I'd better know him, and if he's not, he's the most dangerous man who ever lived."
Let me just say this very quickly. I'm going to read you then my version of this. I taught on this last time, but I want to clarify it. I want to give you just crystal-clear meaning of the compelling claims of Christ. People, if you're here as a guest, we're not following a rabbi. We're not here following a guy full of good ideas. We're not here in a self-improvement mode. We are not here because we have found somebody who wrote beautiful stories and exhorts us to goodness.
We are here because we believe that God himself has come into our darkness and despair. He himself took our sins on the cross and died for us so that God in his eternal perfection could still be perfectly just by executing his full wrath on that which is offensive to him and then save those who should have been the recipients of that wrath by offering them grace.
We believe that God himself became man and died on the cross for our sins to pay an infinite debt so we might be restored to him, so we gather to worship him, to praise him, to sing of him, to remind ourselves of who he is, to train ourselves what he says, not so we could earn his love, because his love has been given to us.
It's so we might then go, "Look, we don't know how we could ever repay you. In fact, we know we can't, so all we're going to try and do is that which would please you as an expression of our love, not so that we'll be considered good but because you are making us good as we, for the first time, begin to understand who you are, a good God, not a cosmic killjoy, not someone who's looking to rip us off but somebody who has set us free from the bondage of the law of sin and death."
See, freedom biblically doesn't mean you can do whatever you want. Freedom biblically means you don't have to be an idiot, perverted, porn addict, drunk, angry, unforgiving, bitter person. That's freedom. Freedom means that I can now choose, because God has redeemed me from the law of sin and death, to walk in the light and to forgive and to love as he has loved and to do as he did. We don't have to figure it out. He has told us what that is.
Are you ready? Here's John 5:19-24. This is my version, and I will tell you that it's good. Every word in it is true because it's all traced back to the Scripture that I'm about to tell you it says. If you're going to memorize one of the two, memorize the one I just read to you before, but here it is in all clarity.
"You can't do that."
"Yes, I can."
"I [Jesus] am one with the Father. I cannot say or do anything God would not say or do. I am one with the Father. I must do what God would say or do. I am his mirror image. I do what he does. He does what I do. We act alike because we are alike. I and the Father are one. We created, so we are now restoring, rescuing, redeeming, and we're about to show you who we are in ways that you could not dream or imagine. (I'm going to go to a cross. I'm going to die for your sins.)"
Here we go. "I am going to go to the cross to deal with sin and death. I will lay my life down. I will take my life back up. I will save those who trust in me and judge those who reject me. The Father and the Son are one. We cannot be separated or stopped. We cannot be spoken about differently. What you make of me, you make of God. If you want to honor him, you honor me.
To trust in me is to trust in him. To follow me is to follow him. I am the way. I am the truth. I am sovereign over life. I am the one who will judge you. I am. I am your judge, and if you listen to me and trust in me, I will justify you and change you. I will take your judgment on myself. I will bring you back to my Father through my own love and kindness expressed in my life, my death, and my victory over death. I will restore you to life.
Find your rest in me. Cease. Be slow. Be still. Slow down. Delight in my love, my protection, my provision, and my goodness." Look, John the Baptist was right when he said, "He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him." Deal with it.
Now what are you going to do if somebody says that? If somebody says that, you just go, "You are a very sick human! You are a dangerous person, and you're going to lead a lot of people astray." What's Jesus say? He says, "Hey look! If you don't believe me, believe my works." Lots of guys can say that they're going to judge. Lots of guys can say they're going to raise people from the dead, but hey, is anybody else doing it? Three times he does it.
"A lot of guys say that they're going to remove the curse, make the lame walk and the blind see and the deaf hear, set the oppressed and captives free, but who's doing it? I am, so that you might know that I am who I say I am, take up your mat and walk and follow me." It is so that you might know that Jesus is who he says he was. You go hang out on Stanford. You look at Scott and Sally Michael's lives.
People go, "There is something different going on there. What happened to you?" "I met Jesus. Hey, our marriage was dead and cold, you might say. We were lost. We had given up. We had been unfaithful and mean-spirited to one another, which was really evidence that we were not loving Christ. I didn't have a marital problem. I had a spiritual problem. Our marriage has changed. I love my wife now. I treat her with honor and respect. I cherish her. I seek her best interests, not my own."
"What happened to your marriage?" "Nothing happened to my marriage. To me, everything happened. I met Jesus, and it changed my marriage." See, that's the story. What I want to say to you today… Most of us would stop right there because Jesus is just saying, "Believe in me. Pass out of judgment. Get out of death. Come to life," and just stop right there with the gospel, but I have to show you show you something.
If you think he was strong up to this point. He's about to get really strong. Now he's going to just say, "I have to tell you something. Listen, you're all going to come forth. You can hear my voice now, or you can hear it later. You're all going to be resurrected, some of you to a resurrection of life and others to a resurrection of death. Some of you are going to call me good now, and I will grant you for eternity the goodness of who I am. Some of you are going to reject me.
Some of you are going to follow your own way. Some of you are going to live as if you want nothing to do with me. Some of you are going to culturally accept me, which is to say you're not going to actively believe in me, and I'm going to tell you, 'If you don't actively believe in me, I will actively let you have a world where nothing will remind you of me. It's called hell.'"
There is no delight in declaring this. See, there is going to be a resurrection for everybody. There is nobody who has ever lived, not Charlemagne, Napoleon, Nebuchadnezzar, John Lennon, Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson, Adolf Hitler, your deceased grandparents and great-grandparents… There is nobody in all of human history whom God is not going to, through his spoken Word, bring them back together.
I don't care if they were eaten by a shark, digested, and let out in the ocean. He is going to call them together by his spoken word. The God who initially took chaos and void and brought beauty and order out of it is going to take our decomposed… I don't care if you were burned. I don't care if you were an individual who has nothing but ashes that were spread out on the beach by Shirley MacLaine. God is going to call those ashes back together.
He is going to give you a body that will eternally exist in one of two places, a body that will eternally be restored to where you can enjoy him forever without sin without death without darkness and without disease or a body that will be perfectly restored to live in a place that is so unspeakably horrible that only a body that is perfectly suited for it can live forever in it. It is a place of torment and gnashing of teeth where there is no light and there is no narcotic.
Did you know drugs are God's gift for us, if we use them correctly? We use them because our lives are so miserable that we want to escape the reality of our pain that God wants to use to draw us to him. There will be no sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll in hell because sex is God's toy and gift. You might misuse it in a way that offends him and hurts you, but there are no sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll in hell. Music is God's gift. It might be distorted to promote violence and degrading women and idolatry and hedonism, but that's his, and he'll take it back.
Right now the good and the wicked enjoy his gifts, but he says, "I'm not going to put you where there's even a reminder that I gave gifts because you don't want me, and I won't give you that eternal joy of having what you wished. I'm not going to rape you. I'm not going to make you love me. I'm going to show you why you should, but make no mistake, you'd better deal with me. I want you to have life and have it now."
See, my life has changed because, right now, I know the goodness of God, and I walk, and I follow him. Let's watch this. Here we go. In John, chapter 5, when we get to verse 25, he says this. "Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming and now is…" He uses this four times right here. He said to that woman, "An hour is coming when you're not going to worship on this mountain or that mountain." He says, "An hour is coming and now is when you're going to worship the Father in spirit and truth. Those are the worshipers the Father has always wanted."
Now he says this. "…an hour is coming and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live." What he means by that is this. Look, it might sound like… Who's he talking about here? Is he talking about spiritual dead people or physically dead people? The answer is both. We know that because we're going to keep reading in just a second.
Right here, he's saying, "Look, you are dead in your trespasses and sins. You're caught up in the works of the law to make you righteous. The works of the law will never make you righteous. The works of the law will only show you how righteous you are not. Now you will do good works when I come back into relationship with you.
That's why I created you for good works, but you do the good works as an expression of the fact that you're connected to me, not to get connected to me. The high works and standards of the law were just there to show you that you're not as good as I am. Guess what? I have come to pay that debt and to close that gap of separation and to satisfy the wrath of God that you might have life, but you can't even hear me, and you're dead."
Do you know who does hear him? His sheep know his voice. See, we don't know this, but sheep are a lot like dogs, and dogs learn the voice of their master. When you go and you watch shepherds in any country that still has shepherds, shepherds don't drive their sheep. Shepherds lead their sheep. When sheep go astray, they call, and the sheep go, "That's my shepherd's voice. He leads me beside green pastures and beside still waters, and I follow him."
Do you know who gets behind sheep and pushes them? The one whom the shepherd sold those sheep to, the butcher. He drives them to death. Jesus doesn't do that. He calls you to life. "Follow me!" People who know his voice follow him. Let me just tell you this. This is the doctrine of what is called efficacious grace, that "I'm going to preach the gospel today. I'm going to declare the good news of Christ today, and not everybody's going to hear it."
Some of you guys are going to go, "Well, that was nice." For others of you, it's going to be like the Spirit is going to blow a wind, and the fog is going to lift, and there's going to be a clarity, and you're going to see yourself all of a sudden, because the Spirit moved and took away the mist and the fog and the cloud.
You'll go, "Whoa!" You're on the precipice of a 5,000-foot drop, and you're going to go, "Oh, my gosh!" and you are going to repent, which means to turn, and you're going to go, "I'm not going that way anymore. I'm going to go back here to life." Others are going to ignore and just keep on walking. Which ones? It's the ones who aren't his sheep who don't know his voice. Jesus said, "I want you to hear me. Listen to me."
There was a big wedding this weekend. Right? Will and Kate threw down. Right? There is in the Bible another royal wedding. Did you know that? I want to make quick mention of it. It's in Matthew, chapter 22. In this particular wedding… Had I shown up, by the way, at that wedding, I'd have stood out. Right?
You would have noticed that I don't have what it took to be dressed like the finest in all of England, and I frankly don't have the money or the opportunity to buy the things. I would have immediately been somebody who they go, "That guy doesn't belong here," and they would've driven me out. The fact that I did not have what it took to get in there would've been evident that I wasn't really invited.
This is the story that Jesus tells in Matthew, chapter 22. Jesus told a story about a king who gave a great wedding, and he wanted folks to come, and they didn't come, so he then sent his servants and said, "You go everywhere because the people whom people think I would invite I invited, and they don't want to come, so you go invite everybody you can, everybody you can."
Then they come. This is what's really interesting about this story. In Matthew, chapter 22, right there at the end, the king comes out to those who actually came. In verse 11, he says this. "… [he] came in to look over the dinner guests, he saw a man there who was not dressed in wedding clothes…"
Now if you're a king and you're inviting people to come and you know that some of the folks are oppressed and downtrodden and outcast and they don't have the ability to look like they should to attend a king's wedding, part of receiving the invitation and accepting it is receiving the provision the king would give you to bathe, to clean yourself, and to adorn yourself appropriately because he's a good and gracious king.
This was, by the way, the custom of the day. You were invited, and you were given the means so that, when you came, you had what you needed to not look out of place. Watch what happens. He walked up, and he saw one guy who was not dressed the way the king made provision for those whom he invited to be dressed. "…he said to him, 'Friend, how did you come in here without wedding clothes?' And the man was speechless."
He knew that the king offered him clothes, but the guy in his arrogance said, "I'll go. If the king wants me there, he'll take me just like I am. I'm not going to dress the way the king wants me to dress. The king will either like me the way that I am or just tough!" He walks in in his arrogance. He had the invitation, but he rejected the provision. "Then the king said to the servants, 'Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'"
The idea there is that he says, "Look, if you don't adorn yourself with that which Christ says you should adorn yourself, then you're going to be rejected. If you go, 'I'll just give you what I have, and if that ain't good enough, then you deal with it," then he says, "I'll deal with it because I can't have fellowship of darkness with light. I will give you my life, but you have to accept it. Do you have ears to hear that?"
Watch what he says in John 5, verse 26. "For just as the Father has life in Himself, even so He gave to the Son also to have life in Himself…" His point here is, "I am not a source that pulls from another source. I am the source itself. In other words, God is not a spring and I'm a river from it." Jesus says, "The Father is life, and he gives it. I have life, and I give it. I am not a channel for God. I am God." That's what he's claiming in verse 26.
He's taking these people who are ready to reject him, and he's clearly claiming that he's the one whom they have to deal with. See, the idea right here… Okay, if you follow me on Twitter… Go to @wordsfromwags. My little deal is, "If any man regards me, let him regard me as a servant of Christ and a steward of the mystery of God." That's what it says in my little bio.
Do you know what it says if you go to @Jesus? It says, "I am God. I have life in and of myself. I am truth. Get it from me. Not come to me and get it from the Father, but come to me and I will give you life." He has the right, he says, to execute judgment. "It's because I'm the Son of Man." This is an allusion back to Daniel, chapter 7, when the Ancient of Days is there and God is progressing through history and he's about to judge the earth and the kingdoms that were established.
Then we're going to go, "Who's going to judge? Who's going to move this thing forward?" It says that one called the Son of Man came before the Ancient of Days, and to him was given all authority and all rule. Jesus is saying, "I'm that guy whom the Ancient of Days has given it to. Why? It's because God has deemed it right that men be judged by a man who has been tested and tried and tempted just like them, who has suffered, who has been exposed to darkness, and who has endured, who in fact wasn't just exposed to darkness but conquered it."
He says, "I know how hard it was. I know how dark it was, but that's why I came, so you can't say, 'God, you don't understand me.' God understands you. He's come, and he has suffered, and he has made provision for you." By the way, this is why you can come to him. This is why God doesn't get upset when you say you love him and then you blow it, because he knows how tough it is to be faithful here. This is Hebrews, chapter 4, verses 15 and 16.
See, we have a high priest who's been here, who's been tempted even as we have been yet without sin. He can sympathize with our weakness. Verse 16 says, "Therefore let us [boldly come as we] draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need." Come!
Jesus says that's what you should do. "I'm here. Come to me." He goes on to say, "I have authority to judge." "Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice…" Jesus is saying, "Look, don't marvel that I can tell you to come to me right now and finalize. There's going to be a day when I go forth."
By the way, when he did this with Lazarus, and he said, "Lazarus, come forth," it's a good thing he said, "Lazarus" because, if he had just said, "Come forth!" every tomb would have opened. Everybody would've walked out. What he's saying is, "There's going to be a day, if you don't hear my voice now, when I'm going to call everybody to this voice, and everybody's coming back, all of them."
Verse 29 says, "…those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment." Now, this might sound like, "Wow, Todd! It sounds like we're saved by works." No, what happens is, when you are saved, you are saved to be his masterpiece, and good works flow out of being restored to the Good One. The good deeds are evidence that, in fact, you were saved.
We are saved by grace through faith alone, not as a result of works, so that no man should boast, but you are saved for good works, and the evidence that you have been saved manifests itself in the way that you live and love and change. You don't bring your good works. You bring the finished work of Christ, and when you trust the finished work of Christ, it restores you into relationship with the Father, and when you're in relationship with the Father, you walk in the light.
At the end of the day, though, a little bit later in John, chapter 6, the people just ask Jesus, "Okay, so what's the work of God that we might do it?" He says, "This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent." That word believe means entrust, give yourself to. Let me close with this. Then we sing.
It's as if Jesus is saying, "Don't miss me." Do you remember last week I had this little stool up here, this little stool that I said, "Trust in him and get the rest." Well, Jesus doesn't want you think he's a little stool. He is everything. He is the center of what you should trust in, and what Christ calls you to do is hear him say, "Here I am! Don't miss me! I am the 800-pound gorilla. I'm the one who can give you rest, and you have to decide, 'Okay, what am I going to do with that Jesus?'"
You're going to say, "I'll tell you what I'm going to do with that Jesus. I'm going to trust in him. That's my Jesus. That's my King, and I love him!" You just pony up and go, "Let the world know this. This is who I serve." Look, this is what Christ is saying in John 5. "Don't miss me! There's no one else like this. You can reject this rest if you want, but when you come to Christ, you have rest." Why?
I no longer lean on my own understanding. In all my ways, I acknowledge him. He makes my path straight. I don't have to ask God, "What do I do in this conflict situation?" anymore. I go, "Hey, Father, what should I do?" I don't have to go, "What do I do now that I have pain and despair in my life?" I go, "Okay, Father, how do you want me to use this?" The world knows. I have trusted in this one. This is the one.
Let me just give you six quick statements. Are you ready for this? Jesus is not someone to be familiar with. He is the only one you should put your faith in. He's the only 800-pound gorilla. He is the only oversized chair. He is the pivot point of eternity. He doesn't want you to go, "Oh, yeah, that was a good provision over there that happened." You go sit in him and put your faith in him.
Jesus is not to be prominent in your life. He's not even to be a priority. Don't prioritize Jesus. Don't make him special among other things. He is to be preeminent. There is nothing you do apart from him. Everything you do flows from him, and that's the good works. Jesus is not somebody you can choose not to honor and still honor the Father. You can't honor the Father without honoring the Son. If you don't honor Jesus, you don't honor the Father, and you'll be resurrected to judgment. It's as simple as that. There's no other way. There's no dual covenant. It's Jesus.
You cannot find life without finding Christ. There is rest in nobody else, and you will weary yourself looking for it. This is rest. You will not escape judgment without embracing Christ. You can't do it. This is the only place the fire is already burned, right here at the cross, and if you tether yourself to anything else, you will be consumed, but not to die but to live forever as a sacrifice to an eternally perfect King.
Listen to me on this one. If you lay hold of Jesus, you will lay hold of life change. It's not my idea. This is his. You will lay hold of life-changing truth. If you do not have life change, you should ask yourself, "Have I laid hold of Jesus?" Don't tell me that you have a marital problem. You don't have a marital problem. You have a spiritual problem. Don't tell me you have coping strategies to deal with your depression or your loneliness. No, you don't. You lack Christ.
He says, "Those who are, by grace, part of my vine will bear fruit," not perfectly. He's made provision for that, but the direction of your life is transformation. People who just talk about the chair but don't sit in it are never at rest, and they never rock, and the world never is wondering at the source of their kindness and goodness. If you don't have life change, I will just tell you, Jesus thinks it's because you don't have him. He says, "Pick up your pallet, your mat, and walk. Follow me. I will give you life. Trust in me. I will forgive your sins and set you free."
Father, I thank you for today and a chance just to see how clear you were about who you were, and I pray that my friends would enjoy you and know you, not be culturally familiar but to be crystal clear and make a faith transaction and to learn to follow you and walk with you and trust in you. Help us, Lord, to in everything and every way be your people. Help us to come and acknowledge that you are the Good One who has died for us that we might be free. For your glory and our good I pray, amen.
Well, you have a great week of worship. Be encouraged as you leave with the song that's sung over you but deal with Jesus. Come to him.
Who was Jesus Christ? A mythical man created to give a false sense of comfort after we die? Some sort of character that enables us to justify our own choices while simultaneously giving us the power to judge others? Or was He something much bigger? God, in the flesh, walking and living among His creation. A sinless man who became the sacrifice for our sins. The Gospel of John is more than Christology 101. It is an invitation to a living and active faith in Jesus Christ. Come join us on this life-changing journey through the book of John: the story of Jesus Christ.