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This passage marks a shift in Jesus' ministry. With the declaration of the Pharisees' intent to kill Him (v. 18), Jesus will begin offering a defense, almost like evidence in a trial, calling forth witnesses to His deity. Despite the fact that the Pharisees should have been the first to recognize this and His Sonship. But who do WE say Jesus is?
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Bingo! The Answer is "Jesus". (And the Question is: "Who is God?")
The King and His Kingdom and What You Must Know to Enjoy them Both
Jesus on Jesus
Do You Want to Get Well? Here's Your Man and Here's How.
From Confusion to Crisis to Clarity to Completion: The Progression from Christlessness to Contagious Faith
What Worshiping in Spirit and Truth Means for Disciples and the Harvest
The Woman at the Well: A Picture of Grace, a Picture of Us
It's the Relationship, Stupid: The Right Well for Your Bucket
Clearing the Way, Preparing the Way, Getting Out of the Way: How Great Men Respond to the Greatest Calling
Father, we are about to dive into your Word. I pray that you would open the eyes of our hearts, that you might see what it is that you intend for us to learn there. We thank you that your Word is a light unto our feet and a guide to our path. I pray, Lord, that we would see that the written Word points only to the living Word and that we are not to be bibliolaters who love to read a book full of principles without coming to the principle of history, a complete and full understanding of who Jesus is.
With all our affection for God's Word here, and I pray that it would only increase, that the one thing that would diminish it is our love for the living Word, Jesus Christ. We thank you that those two go together, and I pray that we'd see that in all its fullness this morning. In Christ's name, amen.
Open to John 5 with me. We're going to read some Scripture this morning, and a bunch of it. We ought to as we often do here because everything in the Word is God's effort to reveal to us what we otherwise would not know left to ourselves. In fact, it is so contrary to our nature that the wise scoff at it and the religious stumble over it. Always. That is exactly what the Scripture says.
People who have pride in their own ability to live lives that they deem as holy are offended by what God's Word says. People who think God is a myth and a fable scoff at those of us who believe in it. It's been wisely said, and I agree, that this is not a book that men would write if they could and a book that men could write if they would.
In other words, they don't want this message. This is a very God-exalting, man-deprecating book. Men don't like those kinds of books. They like books that make them feel good. I'm going to give you a classic example of that toward the end of our message today.
Where we are in John 5 is we have been walking through this incredibly genius revelation from John, who is writing later than all the other gospel writers. The first three gospels were written decades before John really got to his. The question would be…Why is John going to give us this fourth gospel?
The reason is because he wants folks to know exactly who Jesus is and how they should respond to him in all its fullness. It is the most theological of all the books. The way that it's put together is not to just give you every fact and detail of his life, but he is very systematic in the things he chooses.
If you have been with us in the beginning, you know all the different events we've covered at this time. If not, go back and catch the first 16 weeks, just 16 hours of light listening on your road trip as you leave here to do whatever you're doing tomorrow. Where we are now is John is going to back off. For the first time, he's going to let Jesus speak for himself. Let me show you exactly where we are.
We saw that Jesus had recently healed a paralytic. When he had done that, initially, they were offended he was doing something they said he shouldn't do on a certain day of the week. But Jesus had much, much more in mind than taking on the tradition of Sabbath law. He basically responded to their accusation that he shouldn't do what he did by saying, "I can do whatever I want on the Sabbath, because the Sabbath is the Lord's day, and I am basically the Lord." Now they weren't offended by what he did. They were offended by what he said.
In verse 18, this is the classic pinnacle moment. There is an absolute radical alteration from this moment on in the way that the religious leaders, the spiritual authority, the popular opinion of Jesus totally tilts from John 5:18 on. It says this. "For this reason therefore the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because He not only was breaking the Sabbath…" Now we have a much bigger issue. "…but also was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God." They said, "You think you're God."
I mentioned this the last time we were together. What are you going to do if somebody says, "Not only do you teach with a passion and authority, but you teach with passion and authority that you say is innate to you? You're God." I would immediately clear up that misunderstanding. I would say, "No, no, no. Thank you for telling me that's what you hear me saying. I am not at all the solution. I am not at all God."
I would say, in fact, if you go to my Twitter account bio, all I do is rip off Paul. "It's good for ignorant men to read books of quotes," Churchill once said, because you can sound smart. Rather than be witty and crafty, my bio that Twitter makes you put on them is 1 Corinthians 4:1-2. "If any man regards me, let him regard me as a servant of Christ and as a steward of the mysteries of God." That's the way I want to be regarded.
Jesus, however, they go, "Man, you think you're God." So then in verse 19, it says, "Therefore Jesus answered and was saying to them, ' [Bingo!] …'" That is John 5:19-47 in a word. Bingo! Come and collect your prize. But when he said, "Bingo!" they go, "What?" So he said, "Amen," as in, "So be it. You got it right." They said, "We have to kill you." He said, "Before you do that, let's look at the evidence, and that's where we are."
What he's going to do now is he's going to begin to, in a sense, enter into a trial. He is going to call forward witnesses who are going to put their word against his. The reason this is so significant is because if there's anybody who should've seen who Jesus was, it is these guys. It is as if God gave these guys a Connect the Dots book. He told them where one was, and he drew a line all the way through it, and it was a silhouette of a man.
The man looked like Jesus, walked like Jesus, was born where Jesus was born, said the things that Jesus said, and did the things that Jesus did. Everything else from his life from this moment forward was going to connect all the dots. So when they drew that line together, they would go, "You walk like a messiah. You talk like a messiah. You live like a messiah. You are, therefore, the Messiah."
There was every revelation given to these men that they would recognize Jesus, but they didn't want Jesus because Jesus offended them. They had twisted the Scripture. They looked in there to find what they wanted to find, to puff themselves up, and to get their glory from one another. So after Jesus says to them, "Amen. Bingo! Right on. You've got it. Way to go. You've connected the dots," he knew they were offended by that.
Now what he's going to do is say, "Don't just take my word for it. Let's start looking at it." Who does he say this to? Jesus says this to a group of people who at the end of his life, they call him… In fact, just keep your hand right there in John, because that's where we're going to be hanging out. Turn to Matthew 27:62-64.
"Now on the next day…" This is the day after the whole trial went down and Christ was crucified. "…the day after the preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered together with Pilate, and said, 'Sir, we remember that when He was still alive…'" I'm going to show you about this. "…that deceiver said…"
Do you remember? This goes right back to John 5. This conversation that we're studying never left their minds. It shouldn't leave yours. If you go, "Wagner, you think you're God," and I go, "Bingo!" that should never leave your mind. That would be a relationship-altering moment. You would either go, "You're either deluded or deceived. You're a madman, a maniac," or, "I ought to pay attention."
In my case, I would be deluded, deceived, a madman and a maniac, and you ought to run for the hills. But in Jesus' case, let's find out if we should listen to him. Look what they said. There's a pivotal moment. They go, "You are a deceiver." They went to him, and what's so interesting is the reason they crucified him is because he said, "You tear down this temple, and three days later, I'll pick it back up." They were confused. They go, "How can you do this? It took Harrod all kinds of time to build this temple.
Jesus said, "I'm speaking of something else. I'm speaking of my body." They knew exactly what he was speaking of. The clarity of that is evidenced right here. Let me take you back a little bit further to the trial itself. Let me show you who he's dealing with. The trial itself in Matthew 26:59-65. Just go back a chapter. It says this. "Now the chief priests and the whole Council kept trying to obtain false testimony against Jesus…" What am I showing you here?
When Jesus says, "Bingo!" when he says, "Amen," when he says, "You have it right," when he says, "The dots are connected, and it's me," they go, "No." He says, "Okay. Well, let's just have a little hearing here." Jesus then goes forward and begins to give testimony about why he should be believed. At the end of the time, they make themselves judge and jury. They say he's a deceiver. At the end of that time, you're going to find out the evidence that they brought against him to prove he was a deceiver was based on liars. Watch. Here it is. Matthew 26.
"Now the chief priests and the whole Council kept trying to obtain false testimony against Jesus, so that they might put Him to death. They did not find any, even though many false witnesses came forward. But later on two came forward…" And they got this. "This man stated, 'I am able to destroy the temple of God and to rebuild it in three days.'"
When it was convenient for them to take his testimony there and to go, "Just to show you how deluded this guy is, he said that he would tear down the temple to rebuild it in three days. He is a maniac. He's deluded. He's dangerous. He thinks he's God. He thinks he's greater than Cesar. Kill him."
A couple of days later. "Hey, this guy, talking about his body, Pilate, said that when he was down, he was coming back up. Let's seal him in." So I want to show you right here who he's dealing with. They're what is called obscurantists. If you were with me this last Wednesday when Dinesh, Eric, and I did our little Socrates in the City here…
He did a fantastic job. We make that available to you at Watermark Radio and, I think, on our iPhone app as well for free. Go listen to that. He does a tremendous job of talking with the new atheists, the Richard Dawkins, the Christopher Hitchens, and all the guys who are out there who want to tell you why God should not be believed. There's a God delusion. God is not great.
What he basically does is say, "Let's just have a conversation. Let's not quote Scripture at them because they don't honor the Bible. Let's just talk on their level." He did a wonderful job of showing you how you can do that and to equip you and your ability to take on people in the public square.
What Jesus is going to do is take on these men in the public square in a way that's going to show that God is true and men are liars. So these guys do not want anything to with him. Jesus is going to say, "The problem with you guys is you don't have faith." In other words, "You are men who have distorted the Scriptures to make it about what you do, and the Scriptures have never been about what you do.
There is a reason that Leviticus follows Exodus. What do I mean by that? Exodus is when the law was given from Sinai. This is what God wants. I'm going to talk about the purpose of the law of God. The purpose of the law of God, Paul says, is to tutor you. The law is a tutor. It is a teacher. It is to show you something, and it is to show you specifically that God is holy, and you are not. That is why, after Exodus, your Bible doesn't end.
There is this thing called Leviticus, the Levitical law. What is the Levitical law? Leviticusis how you satisfy a holy God when you, in fact, are not what Exodus suggests you should be, which is holy. The purpose of the law is to teach you that there is holiness, and you don't have it. The picture of the law in Leviticus is that something else must die in your stead. The prophecy of the law is that that somebody will be a singular male. The promise of the law is that he is kind and good and he will give his life for you.
These guys ignored all four of these things and said, "No, the law is what we will fulfill, and we'll applaud for one another about how holy we are." Let me just tell you how absolutely essential this little dialogue is. Jesus went after this idea that without faith a man cannot be justified, and it's a good thing.
Because if you go to share your faith today, 9 times out of 10…99 times out of 100…when you run into people, and you ask them this simple question (the two diagnostic questions)… Are you at a point in your spiritual life where if you died today, you know you'd go to heaven? Most folks hem, and they haw, and they want to appear humble, so they go, "Well, I hope so."
You then follow it up with this. "If you stood before the Lord, and he asked you why he should let you in, what would you say?" They'll go, "Well, I think I'd say I did the best I could. I'm not Hitler. I'm not Jeffrey Dahmer. I'm not that abusive child molester who picked up Ashley Estell and used her for his pleasure and dumped her next to some dirt road."
We always hold up these icons of evil and go, "Well, I'm not that. I'm not mean, drunk uncle Herman," but we never hold up the standard. What people do is they want to appear real humble. So you ask them, "On a scale from 1 to 10, how sure are you?" They go, "Well, I don't know. I'm a 6 or 7, maybe." They think that's humble. It's arrogant if the standard is perfection.
I do this all the time. I look at somebody, and I say, "Do you mind if I tell you how I'd answer those questions?" They usually go, "No." I go, "I'm 100 percent sure." They go, "Well, Wagner, you're arrogant. Of course, you think you're sure. You're a pastor. You're Mister Better-Than-You." I go, "No. I'm just answering the first question. Let me answer the second one. The second one is why do I think I should get in. What am I going to say to God when I stand before him that day?
Let's just remind each other what you said. You said it's because you think you're going to turn in a resume that's largely going to be impressive. I'm not turning in my resume. I'm going to turn in my repentance. I'm going to say no matter what I did vocationally, I am an idiot, I am a rebel, I am inconsistent. I say one thing and do another. I know the right thing, and I do not always do the right thing I know to do. There is death in me, and there is a curse on me, and all I deserve is judgment."
They go, "I thought you said you were sure you were going to heaven." I go, "I am." "Why?" "Because I know what the Word of God says. The Word of God says if I call out to him for mercy, if I acknowledge that I could never be the man that he wants me to be, that I have fallen short of the standard that I, therefore, can receive mercy from him and that his Son can be the means through which I can be restored into relationship with him. So there's not going to be any resume."
The rest of my life, I'm trying to learn to respond to that fully because Jesus died my soul to save. I want to then, therefore, live for him. Will I do that perfectly? No. I'll preach about this this morning, and this afternoon, there will be a moment when I will be less than a loving, gracious, kind, compassionate, thoughtful, encouraging father. Bank on it. My family is not here. You would've heard eight amens right then. When I do, I'll own it. I'll seek to make amends, and I'll ask for forgiveness. I won't use it as a license.
The Byron Nelson is this weekend. Dallas is all talking abuzz about golf. You ask people what they shoot in golf, they go, "I'm 80s, 90s, kind of." If you watch me when I play golf with my kids when I get to go out and do that, they'll go, "Dad, you're awesome. You ought to do this for a living. You're great," because compared to them, I am great.
But if I go, "Here's the deal. You're not my standard. If you are the standard, I am the Tiger Woods of golf. I would win not just most tournaments. I would win every tournament. People would come to see me play. If it was just you and me, I would be Tiger. But guess what? It's not just you and me.
There is a standard, and the standard, by the way, is not Tiger Woods. The standard is this little nemesis called par. There is nobody who always does par. They bogey, and they double bogey, and they triple bogey." Arnold Palmer, when asked one time why he was so great at golf, he goes, "Everybody else is out there playing against each other. I'm playing against par." He said, "That's my standard, and I go after it hard."
The law is par. Jesus is the only one who met it. That is Matthew 5. "I didn't come to abolish par. I didn't come to tell you that there was no standard. I came to fulfill it so all you people of bogey lives might turn in a score that is par." When I stand before the Lord, and he asks what I shot, I'm going to go, "It's ugly." "So, what are you going to do?" "I'd like to submit my score for the US Open that is my life, Jesus Christ," and he says, "Here is your trophy. It is given to you freely." That's the story.
Look what Jesus said in Matthew 8. In Matthew 8, there is this non-Jew who listened to Jesus, watched Jesus, saw what Jesus was doing. He goes, "You, dude, are not some normal dude. You are par. You are the fulfillment of the law. You are very God of very God. You can do stuff because you're God that no one else can do. I have a servant who is sick. I would like you to care for him."
Jesus says, "Let's go." The guy says, "You're God. You don't need to go with me. I, too, am a man of authority. He says, 'Go,' and I go. He says, 'Come,' and I come. All you have to do is say my boy is well, my servant is well, and he'll be well." Jesus turns around in Matthew 8, and he says, " I've never seen such faith in all of Israel. Go. Your servant is healed." Then he goes on to say this in Matthew 8:10. Look at this.
"Now when Jesus heard this, He marveled and said to those who were following, 'Truly I say to you, I have not found such great faith with anyone in Israel. I say to you that many will come from east and west, and recline at the table with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.'"
In other words, the folks who were given the connect the dots, the folks who were told, "This is who he is," they weren't connecting the dots. This dude connected the dots. Since he drew the picture, since he knows that I am the fulfillment of what Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob talked about, this guy is going to dine with me." Then he says this. " But the sons of the kingdom…" He's talking here about specifically the Jewish people. " … will be cast out into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."
All he's saying right there is this. "Just because you're born a Jew, just because you're raised in a church, just because you're raised in a temple, just because you have the law, just because you know what par is, if you don't understand the purpose to par, which is to show you where you don't meet it, if you in your arrogance think that all you have done you're entire life is met par, even though most of us…"
I don't ever meet somebody who says, "Oh yeah. I always shot par. Every thought. Every deed. Everything I should do, I've done. Everything I shouldn't do, I didn't do. Par." I've never in my life have met anybody who thought there life was up to par. What we do in our delusion is we play golf with my kids. We say, "Hitler. Dahmer." You are Jesus Christ compared to them (maybe). But we're not comparing to them. We're comparing to Jesus. He is par. You are further from him than Dahmer is from you. There is a real problem.
So what are we going to do? We're going to read John, and we're going to listen to Jesus. What he says right here in verse 30… He is wrapping up. In fact, I need to do this to capture us. What I'm going to do to make this as easy as I can is this. I went, last time we were together, and I took John 5:19-24, and I rewrote it in plain North Dallas English. So here is what Jesus said. This is his Bingo! when they go, "You think you're God." So I'm not going to read John 5:19-24. I'm going to read to you my take on it. This is me now, and all of this stuff you can find right here.
Jesus goes, "I am one with the Father. I cannot say or do anything that God would not say or do. I am one with the Father. I must do what God would say or do. I am his mere 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. We are now restoring, rescuing, redeeming. We are about to show you who you are in ways that you could not dream or imagine.
I'm going to go to the cross to deal with sin and death. I'm going to lay my life down. I'm going to take my life back up. I'm going to save those who trusted me, and I'm going to 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 that will judge you. I am. I am your judge. If you listen to me and trust me, I'll justify you and change you. I will take your judgment upon 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 still, slow down, delight in my love, my protection, my provision, and my goodness." Bingo!
Now, folks, that's pretty doggone clear. That's exactly what he's saying in John 5. Let's just pick it back up because the next week, I really went down through verse 29. So now we're in verse 30. Watch this. "I can do nothing on My own initiative." Why? Why did Jesus say that? He goes, "It's not just about me because I am one with the Father, because his initiative is my initiative." That's what he's saying. "As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me [because we are one] ."
How do you say what he said in Matthew 8 that the sons of the kingdom will be cast in the outer darkness? Do you know who those sons are? They are his beloved. The apple of his eye. Israel. God loves Israel. But he just said, "I pronounce judgment on Israel." Why did he say that?
If you look in history and you see an image of Lady Justice, she is holding in her hand a scale because she balances truth and error correctly. What does Lady Justice have on? She has a robe. What is on her face? A blindfold. Why? Because perfect justice is blind. In other words, it is not a respecter of persons. It doesn't say, "That's a rich dude. That's a famous dude. That's a powerful dude. That's my own blood." How can I pronounce judgment on those who I love?"
There's a reason that robes are on judges. It says, "I am an impartial person. I am not like you. There is a veil which separates me from you. What really sits up here are ears and a mind." That's what a good judge is. God says, "I am blind to my chosen and my beloved in that I will not alter par for them. He's not going to alter par for you."
He says, "I am a good judge, and a good judge executes justice." He is a loving judge. And because he is a good and loving judge, he is not going to be compromised or bribed. He's not going to show favor to those who he should not show favor to. He is going to execute the wicked. If you look at Exodus 34 when Moses says, "Show me who you are," God says, "Get behind that rock. I'll give you a glimpse," and he came passing by.
What's it say? He is filled with lovingkindness and truth. He is compassionate in the fact his mercies never fail. His grace goes to thousands of generations, but by no means will he let the guilty go unpunished. So he is. Folks are offended when they look at the Old Testament, and they see this God who, in effect, wipes out entire cultures and commissions it. Why? Because he says the time of their judgment was full.
He did it with Noah. Noah was a herald of righteousness. He preached that there was a coming judgment. People scoffed at it and mocked at it, and then judgment came. He did it with the Canaanites. There was a time that the Israelites were ready to march on the Canaanites and wipe them out, and God said no. It says the wickedness of the Canaanites is not yet full, but there is a day that the wickedness of the Canaanites was filled, and God expected them to go in and execute judgment.
There is a time that your wickedness and my wickedness will be filled. There is a time that the wickedness of the earth will be filled, and there will be a complete and absolute judgment. Don't we all want that? You ask people what they want in the most oppressed places on earth, and they say, "We want justice." There is no love without justice. We want evil eradicated.
What's the deal, though? The deal is that most of us define evil not by looking at our scoresheet but at someone else's. Jesus is saying, "I'm going to look at yours, and I'm par." Watch. Verse 31. "If I alone…" That's egō. Ego, we call it. If I am egomaniac, if I am just filled with my own love, if I am, as I said, conceited, and I am deceived, and I am a maniac, then ignore me. If I am the only one who thinks this is who I am, then I am not telling the truth."
Verse 32. "There is another who testifies of Me, and I know that the testimony which He gives about Me is true." So now he's going to walk through these other folks. He's not talking here about John the Baptist. We'll tell you who he's talking about when he says, "…another who testifies of Me…" here in just a minute.
By the way, this is who you have to be. You have to be an individual who, like Christ, can say verse 32. There are going to be people who mock you. There are going to be people who challenge you. There are going to be people who say you have a false hope, you believe in a false Messiah, you are deluded, you believe in myths and children's fairytales. There are going to be some people one day who tell you you believe in the wrong God, that Allah is the one true God, and Muhammad is the prophet. "I'm going to cut your head off if you don't acknowledge it."
This is, in effect, what is happening to Jesus. "We're going to take your head off if you don't stop saying what you're saying." He says, "Bring it. I'm not really worried about what you think. I'm worried about what he thinks. I'll walk right to your cross because you are not the final judge. I know the final judge. I am a peace with him."
Are you ready? Insert right here. Write that in your Bible. Write down next to verse 32, "1 Peter 2:19-23," and then I'll read it to you. I'll quote it to you. Are you ready? You put 1 Peter 2:19-23 right there in your Bible. When you start to get shaken and when the world mocks at you, and they will mock… "If you desire to live godly in Christ Jesus, you will be persecuted," it says in 2 Timothy 3:12. Probably not in our lifetime by radical Islamic terrorists, unless you're called to the Middle East or something really strange happens around here, but maybe you might be lucky enough to do it.
It is a whole lot easier to, in a moment, well up and say, "I believe in Jesus. Take my head off," then it is to live in the Dallas culture like you believe in Jesus every day and never be killed. Let me say that again. If all I had to do was give a one-time testimony and roll the dice and say, "I'm betting on Jesus and the cross," I would look a whole lot more faithful than being left alive to live in North Texas and live like it so I would get mocked day after day.
Do you want to know what real temptation, real trouble, real persecution is? You try and live godly in this city. Some of you guys have no persecution because not only did you go see Hangover 2 this weekend, you own the unrated version of Hangover 1. You've memorized most of it. There is no persecution about how you would choose to see or not see certain films, how you choose or not choose to invest your money, how you choose or not choose to treat your wife.
I haven't seen either movie. I don't know if they're good or not. I have a hunch. But if you want to live your life in a way that's contrary to society, this world will say, "We'll take your head off. We'll avoid you. We'll isolate you. You'll no longer be Facebooked by me. You'll no longer be in our little Memorial Day party. We'll avoid you."
One of my kids talked about how, after school on the last day of school, he was walking with a group of friends. Two of them ditched him. Let me tell you why they ditched him. They knew they didn't want him where they were going to do whatever it is that they were going to do. It might've been as simple as they were going to rent a video game that they probably shouldn't have rented with that boy, and they knew that boy would say something, and maybe that circle would be expanded. They were committed to doing what they were going to do.
Would you go ahead and rent that video game with him? If you aren't getting ditched, the answer is probably, "Yep. Yep, you would." Jesus, though, knew that the testimony of God was true. This is 1 Peter 2. These are verses that I quote to myself all the time. In 1 Peter 2, it says,
"For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, WHO COMMITTED NO SIN, NOR WAS ANY DECEIT FOUND IN HIS MOUTH; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously."
That is John 5:32. "I know the one who testifies about me and his testimony is true, so I'm not worried about what you think." Look at verse 33. "You have sent to John, and he has testified to the truth." He's not talking about the one he was talking about in verse 32. He's talking about John the Baptist. Verse 34. "But the testimony which I receive is not from man, but I say these things so that you may be saved." Open your eyes, open your ears. Read your Scripture. What he's about to say is this. "Let me tell you who testifies to me."
Verse 35, he jumps back to John. " [John] was the lamp that was burning and was shining and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light.""You liked him until he called you a bunch of whitewashed tombs and a brood of vipers. He told you to repent that you too needed salvation. But you didn't want faith. You didn't want grace. You were going to submit your resume, so you didn't like John anymore."
Verse 36: "But the testimony which I have is greater than the testimony of John." This is who he's talking about in verse 32. " For the works which the Father has given Me to accomplish—the very works that I do—testify about Me, that the Father has sent Me." In other words, what he's saying right here is this.
"John was a great promoter of who I was, but sooner or later, you have to produce. In other words, Jesus said, "I'm not all fanfare and no follow-through." John said, "That's the guy." Isaiah 35 says, "When that guy shows up, the blind the see, the lame will walk, and captives will be set free." So he says, "If you don't like what I'm saying about myself, and you reject what John says, you have to deal with the lame and the blind and the captive. What are you going to do with them?"
What he's going to do right now is he's going to say, "John told you who I was. I told you who I was [in verses 19 through 24]. My works affirm that what I'm saying is not based on delusion," but he's not done yet. What is he doing? He is calling witnesses to the stand. It says all throughout your Old Testament that a case should be confirmed on the basis of two or three witnesses.
Who were the witnesses that the wicked men brought forth against Jesus? False witnesses who couldn't get their story straight ended up playing word games that flip-flopped from one 24-hour period to another. Jesus says, "Check out John the Baptist. Check out me. Check out what I do." But he isn't done. The witnesses only get better. He's going to save his star witnesses to the end. Who else do you think he's going to call? Watch this. He says in verse 37, "And the Father who sent Me, He has testified of Me."
"If you weren't listening when John baptized me, there was this thunderous announcement from heaven. 'Behold, this is my Son in whom I am well pleased.'" The transfiguration, same thing happened. John 12, I will show you later. Same thing happened there during the triumphal entry. But he's not even talking there about the audible voice from heaven. He's talking about something else. What is it?
"You have neither heard His voice at any time nor seen His form." So he's saying, "Most of you guys weren't there when God said this from heaven, but I want to tell you your problem." Verse 38: "You do not have His word abiding in you, for you do not believe Him whom He sent."
Let me tell you. This is a message. Last night I tweeted this. "Preaching on John 5:30-47 tomorrow. Not a very popular message in a pluralistic, relativistic, ecumenical age, but so be it. We're going to bring it." This verse right here in verse 38… Let me tell you something about spirituality. Spirituality is in. Spiritual seeking is in in our country.
Do you want to be spiritualist? Do you want to seek truth? Do it all day long. But do you want to say you found truth? That is offensive to people. Jesus is going to tell you right here, "This is how you know if you found truth. This is how you know if the word of truth abides in you." What is according to verse 38? "If you believe in him who he has sent."
In other words, I don't care what you call yourselves ( a Buddhist, a Muslim, a Jew, a Mormon, a Jehovah's Witness, or a Christian). "Who do you say I am?" I mean, really? I'm not talking about perverting the name of Jesus to be the brother of Lucifer. I'm not talking about perverting Jesus to make him an angel. I'm not perverting Jesus to make him a great teacher. I'm not perverting Jesus to making him a great prophet.
He goes, "Who do say that I am? Am I the Son of the Living God? Am I the Messiah? If you don't say that I am God, then you don't have truth in you. Period." That is the dividing line. That is not my idea. That is Christ's idea. He says in verse 39, "You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life."
In other words, let's see what it says, and let's do these things, and let's find little principles that we can keep. That will be our resume. He goes, "The Scriptures testify about me." The purpose of the law is to show you there's a standard. The prophecy of the law is that you're going to be judged because you don't meet the standard, and the picture of the law is that another person should be sacrificed for you. The promise is that that one is Jesus, the Messiah who has come.
But he says, "Here's your problem." Verse 40 says, "You are prideful, and you are unwilling." This is not an information problem. It is a pride problem. You are unwilling to admit your need, to humble yourself before me. So you do not have life. The cross of Jesus Christ is a stumbling block to the Jew, which is to say the religious, which is to say to the Muslim, to the Mormon, to the Jehovah's Witness, to the churchgoer, it is a stumbling block.
You don't find people preaching the cross and your need to come stand in the shadow of it and throw yourself before it because it's offensive to men. It is foolishness to the wise of this world. I'm going to tell you it is the dividing point. You have to know who Jesus was and what he was doing on the cross. He was God, and he was dying for you.
That, bottom line, is why you cannot make Jesus just a good teacher. He is offensive. In the world he is a sword, and he is sharper than a two-edged sword, and he will divide. The question is…What side of that divide are you on?
Verse 41. "I don't receive my glory from men. I don't really care what you think about me." You guys get glory from one another. You walk around and go, "Oh, you make that little pilgrimage. Oh, you bow that many times a day to the east. Oh, you had that little eight-fold path of alignment. Oh, you knock on that many doors. Oh, you wear that kind of underwear and pray for your dead saints. Oh, you count that many beads. Oh, you do this kind of service. Oh, you attend these kinds of things. Wow, that looks holy."
Let me tell you this about legalism. Legalism is not overwhelming to us, and so we reject it. Legalism is obtainable, and so we embrace it. The reason our world likes religion and law is I go, "Okay, I can do that. I can climb up that mountain. I'll get up that hill." Now, you're going to be worn out from it, and you might resent and hate it, but men are always going to respond to five pillars, eight-fold paths, this activity.
But if you tell a man you are lost, you are wicked, you are dead in your trespasses and sins, you are without God and without hope in this world, you need a Savior, that offends men. That's the Scripture. This is not a book that man would write if they could or a man could write if they would. What do I mean by that?
The Scriptures telegraph what's going to go happen. It's coming. This is what he's going to look like. This is what he's going to do. This is where he's going to be born. This is how he's going to die. When he dies, this is the way it's going to go down. When he goes down, this is the way he's going to come back up.
When he comes back up, this is what he's going to do. This is what you need to do to respond. This is where it's going to happen. These are the men involved. These are the dates it's going to happen. It is a book that if it didn't come from God, we couldn't write it. This is a book that if it didn't come from God, we wouldn't have written it, because it so offends us.
Verse 42: "But I know you, that you do not have the love of God in yourselves." How does he know that? How does Jesus say, "I know you have the love of God in you?" Answer. "Because you don't love me." If you don't love Jesus, you don't love God. You preach that in Baghdad and in Jerusalem and in Dallas. That's a fact.
Verse 43: "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." You love men who come with their own standards of righteousness. You love guys who come and commend themselves. You love guys who say they're holy because that par is attainable to you.
"How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and you do not seek the glory that is from the one and only God?" The glory that God gives to you is a glory that only God can give. He will make you new. He will grant you grace. He will give you the spirit of truth. He will allow you to be born again.
Verse 45: "Do not think that I will accuse you before the Father [Don't make this about me] ; the one who accuses you is Moses…" Moses is going to be there. Moses is the one who's going to say, "You didn't see what I wrote? You didn't connect the dots? You didn't hear me when I said in Deuteronomy 18:17-18 that there's another prophet coming after me, that he will speak directly from God, and he is the one who will save you? This was Jesus."
You set your hope in Moses. Moses is going to be the one on the witness stand, saying, "You guys are nuts. I told you he was coming. I told you who he was, and I told you what he's going to do. I told you you couldn't meet the law." Verse 46: "For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me, for he wrote about Me." Verse 47, wrapping it all up. "But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?" He is saying, "I can't do anything, you students of the Scripture. The Scripture points to me."
Let me just tell you this. You will know a person's spiritually by knowing one thing about them. Who do you say Jesus is, and what was he doing on the cross? I did a little deal. We don't have time to show it. We've shown it before in this John series. It was thing because everybody wants to know what God is like. Jesus is the visible image of the invisible God.
All the fullness of deity dwells in Jesus in bodily form, so I did this thing with my friends at Igniter. Do you want to know what God looks like? Look at Jesus. Do you know what Jesus is saying? "Do you want to know what I look like? Then look at God," and, "Do you know how I know you don't love God? You look at me and don't like me."
One guy said they are so congruent, they are so inseparable, you can tell what you think of either by asking somebody what they think of the other. In other words, I know what you think about God by asking you what you think about Jesus. I know what you think about Jesus by asking you what you think about God.
I'm going to show you when I get to John 12. Jesus quotes from Isaiah 6. Isaiah 6 is one of the most venerated verses in all of your Old Testament. It's when Isaiah is scared to death because he sees the glory of God. Guess what Jesus says in John 12? "Guess what Isaiah saw? Me." Who is Jesus? What was he doing on the cross?
Are you reading your Bible? If it's not making you love Jesus, you aren't reading your Bible, and you're reading your Bible for the same reason W.C. Fields does. You're looking for loopholes. That's what they said. One day, W.C. Fields was caught reading his Bible (a notorious drunk and philanderer). They said, "What are you doing?" He goes, "I'm looking for loopholes." That's exactly what these guys were doing.
If you don't believe me, you go read Luke 10 on your own a little bit later today. When a guy says, "What's the greatest commandment? What do we have to do to make it? The guy goes off, and he talks about how he loves God and loves others. Jesus says, "Let me tell you about it. You'd better make sure you're loving others," and it says, "But wishing to justify himself, he said to Jesus, 'And who is my neighbor?'" That guy knew.
When you talk about loving God, he's this ethereal, this transcendent, this big thing up there. I really don't know how you're doing with God, but I know how you're doing with your wife. I know how you're doing with the poor and the oppressed and the forgotten among you. I know how you're doing with the weak. I know how you're doing with people. It's not pretty. It's why God says, "Don't tell me you love me if you don't love others. That's what Jesus said, "Don't tell me you love God if you don't love me."
Father, I pray this morning that we would be so confronted with this truth here that we would walk out of here going, "Whoa! I want to get my fill of Jesus. I want to read the Word of God so I might know more of the glory of who God is, that I might see the separation from glory that I have. So I might see the full glory of God revealed in his love for me, that while I was yet a sinner, God himself became a man."
Being found in the image of man and being made in the likeness of men, he became obedient. Obedient even to the point of death on the cross. Why? Because you are good. You are filled with lovingkindness and grace and compassion. You extend your mercies to thousands of generations. You've extended it all the way to May 29, 2011, so that folks who now have studied the Word can see if they are going to respond to it.
By no means will you let the guilty go unpunished. So Lord, as we sing that your Word is a light unto our feet and a lamp unto our path, I pray that light would lead us to the Light of the World, Jesus Christ. The lamp would guide us in your way that we might be reconciled to you by faith, and that we might evidence our faith by the way we work out our salvation in fear and trembling, following you, following through.
Not just with a fanfare of repentance and song, but with lives of submission, surrender, marriages, bank accounts, days that are transformed. We pray this, Father, that you might be glorified, and others might know that we are your people and they might come to see the salvation that is in Jesus Christ.
If there is a soul here today who has not fully responded to Jesus, I pray that they would come, that you would not let them leave until they say, "How then can I respond to him? What must I do to be saved?" And that we could lift up the name of Christ, and they would come to that cross and receive his gift freely? Teach us. Amen.
We'll know if you believe those words that you just sang the same way that Jesus said to the Jews, "I'll know if the Word of God is what it should be in your life." Does it bring you to humility and repentance? Does it cause you to be humbled before the glory and holiness of God? Do you scream out to him, "Mercy"? Do you follow the living Word? Do you believe that Jesus Christ is a light unto your feet and a lamp unto your path?
You are a follower of him. You walk with him by faith, and he is the way, the truth, and the life. He leads you to the Father. There is no other path. There is no other light. That's it. Don't tell me you love the Word of God and don't tell me you love Jesus unless you follow him, unless your faith is fully in him and in nothing else, and unless you have radical attentiveness to his person, his purposes, his people. That's not my idea. That's his.
Memorialize your relationship with him this day. Him, who showed his great love for you in giving his life that you might be saved. His witness is true. John said it. He was the forerunner. Jesus said it. His works evidence it. The Father said it. The Scriptures point to it. Moses is going to accuse you unless you accuse yourself of being guilty and you cry out to him for mercy. Will you come?
And if you've come, will you go? Will you preach and live in surrender to Jesus Christ? With all of your glory today, be offensive to the world with gentleness and reverence. Be a light, his co-laborer. That's what we teach next week. Because there's a shift here and because the King is rejected, he's going to tell you what's going to happen to the kingdom and what the King's people should do until that day. Next Sunday.
Have a great week of worship.
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.