THE LIFE OF CHRIST
In our last lesson on the life of Christ, we looked at the first 24 verses of John 5 in which Jesus heals a man that did not know who He was and later finds him in the temple. Now this man was questioned about carrying his bed by the Jews, but as soon as he finds out that Jesus is the one who healed him and told him to pick up his bed and walk, he tells the Jews that Jesus did it. This caused the Jews to want to kill Him since He did this on the Sabbath. Jesus defends Himself by teaching them that there was nothing wrong with doing good on the Sabbath and how that everything that He does come from the Father in heaven. He goes on to talk about how He will be the judge of all, and how He can give eternal life to those who believe in Him. As I pointed in our last lesson, this not teaching faith only, but includes obeying the commands of God as well. Now let’s begin where we left off.
John 5:25 "Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live. 26 "For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself, 27 "and has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man.
“The hour is coming” is referring to the resurrection at the last day and the phrase “And now is” puts this teaching into a spiritual light. So, the dead spoken of here could include those physically or spiritually dead, but I believe it is specifically referring to those that are spiritually dead. In either case, both will hear the voice of the Son of God. Those who are spiritually dead have to hear the words of Jesus and accept them before they can become spiritually alive, and those who are physically dead will also hear the voice of God at the judgment day as we will see in verses 28-29.
Just as the Father has the power of eternal life, Jesus has been given this power as well, which is why He is able to offer eternal life to all who are dead in their sins. Another reason Jesus was given the authority to judge mankind is because He knows how to judge us fairly because He experienced what it means to be a human (Heb. 2:9-18; 4:14-16).
John 5:28 "Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice 29 "and come forth -- those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.
Jesus is speaking of the general resurrection that will happen on the judgment day. This time He does not use the phrase “And now is,” but simply says, “The hour is coming.” When Jesus comes again, all those in their graves both the righteous and unrighteous will be raised. The righteous will be raised to have eternal life in heaven, and the unrighteous will be raised to face eternal life in hell.
These two verses teach against the false doctrine of the rapture. Those who teach the rapture doctrine say there will be three resurrections. The first will be a secret coming of Jesus. The second will happen after the seven years of tribulation, and the third will happen after the 1,000-year reign, which is when the unjust are raised. However, Jesus says there is just one resurrection, and there is no room in these verses to squeeze in seven years of tribulation or a 1000-year reign on earth. These two verses are enough to show there will be a general resurrection of both the just and unjust that will happen on the same day. Now let’s dig a little deeper and notice what the rest of the Bible has to say about this topic.
The word resurrection means, “To come back to life after having once died - 'to come back to life, to live again, to be resurrected, resurrection …”(Louw-Nida Lexicon).
So, the word resurrection shows that Jesus has the body of a person in mind. When we die, our spirits leave our physical bodies (Jas. 2:26; 1 Kgs 17:21-22) and it goes to the Haden realm (Lk. 16:19-31), which is the waiting place until the Day of Judgment. We will either be in Abraham’s bosom or in the place of torment. Jesus teaches that while we are in the Hadean realm we are conscious, and we can feel comfort and pain. However, we cannot return to the earth or cross the great gulf between paradise and the place of torment. When our spirits leave our bodies, our bodies are laid to rest. Just as our body was laid down, it will be raised again just like Jesus was raised from the dead. So, the resurrection will be a bodily one for both the righteous and unrighteous.
Daniel 12:2 And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, Some to everlasting life, Some to shame and everlasting contempt. 3 Those who are wise shall shine Like the brightness of the firmament, And those who turn many to righteousness Like the stars forever and ever.
This message is saying the same thing that Jesus did. Those who are in their graves will awake or be resurrected to everlasting life or to everlasting contempt. When the Bible refers to those who sleep in the dust, it is referring to their lifeless bodies and not to their spirits. Lazarus is a great example of this because he was comfortable and no one can feel comfort if they are in some deep sleep, so our spirits are definitely awake while our lifeless bodies remains on the earth.
Further proof that we do
not soul sleep can be found in:
Revelation 6:9 When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held. 10 And they cried with a loud voice, saying, "How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?" 11 Then a white robe was given to each of them; and it was said to them that they should rest a little while longer, until both the number of their fellow servants and their brethren, who would be killed as they were, was completed.
These souls are speaking, showing curiosity and concern, and they were able to understand what was said to them.
Paul teaches the same message in his defense before Felix that there will be a general resurrection on the judgement day.
Acts 24:14 "But this I confess to you, that according to the Way which they call a sect, so I worship the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the Law and in the Prophets. 15 "I have hope in God, which they themselves also accept, that there will be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust.
The resurrection will happen on the Day of Judgment, when both the just and unjust will be raised from the dead. But, what happens on that day? In what way will the resurrection occur? The Bible gives us more details on what will happen to the righteous than the unrighteous, but as we will see, both of them will be called from the Hadean realm and they will be reunited with their bodies. However, their bodies will be transformed into spiritual bodies that will last for eternity just as it happened with Jesus.
Revelation 20:12 And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. 13 The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works.
On the judgment day, death, which refers to those physical bodies that have perished, and Hades, which refers to those souls such as Lazarus and the rich man, will be raised together. To show this idea further, we need to examine the thoughts of 1 Cor. 15, which focuses on the resurrection of the righteous. Paul teaches if there is not a resurrection of the dead, then Christ was not raised from the dead. If this is true, we have no hope and everything that Christ did was a lie (1 Cor. 15:12-19).
1 Corinthians 15: 20 – 28 confirms that Christ was raised from the dead and He is the firstfruits, which means we will be raised from the dead on the Day of Judgment just as He was. When that day comes, Christ will destroy death, and He will hand the kingdom over to God, which refers to the church.
1 Corinthians 15: 35 – 49 teaches that our physical bodies will be changed into spiritual bodies that have no corruption, and we will be like Jesus. As:
Philippians 3:20 For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.
We do not know what that body will look like because not even the apostle John knew (1 Jn 3:2). However, we do know that the resurrection will happen when Jesus comes again (1 Thes. 4:13-18). The faithful Christians who have already passed from this life will be raised first, and they will come back with Jesus. Then the faithful Christians who are still alive will be transformed, given an incorruptible bodies and will meet Jesus in the air (1 Cor. 15:50-58).
Some might wonder how God could take our physical bodies that have been turned to dust and transform it into a new spiritual body that will be united with our spirits. To the Christian, this concept should not be a problem considering that God created us from dust in the first place and had the power to create the entire universe. Nothing is impossible for God.
We are not given all the details, but we know the unjust will also be raised, and the unjust still living on the earth will also be given a new bodies. On that day the just and unjust will be separated and judged (Mt. 25:31- 46), which is also illustrated in Jesus’ parables (Mt. 13). Those who are just will enter heaven where there will be no more pain, death, or sorrow (Rev. 21:4). But the unjust will enter hell for eternity where the worm does not die (Mk. 9:42-48), there is no rest day or night from the torment (Rev. 14:9-11; 20:10), and where there will weeping and gnashing of teeth (Mt. 8:12; 13:42; 25:30). This is why Jesus warns us in:
Matthew 10:28 "And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
The only power people have over us is the ability to kill our physical bodies because they cannot touch our souls. However, God has control over the destination of our souls, which means we should fear Him instead of people. When it says that God is able to destroy the soul and body in hell, the word “destroy” does not mean that He is going to make us cease to exist. Instead, it carries the idea of lying to waste or ruin.
Thayer says, “…To devote or give over to eternal misery in hell.”
In other words, a person will not cease to exist if he faces the judgment of hell. Instead, that person will be in constant torment and anguish, and we can only imagine how horrible hell will be. We could explore more Scriptures that talk about what will happen on the judgment day, but these are enough to show there will be a resurrection of both the just and the unjust at the Day of Judgment, and the just will go to heaven while the unjust will go to hell. To help illustrate this visually, notice the following chart:
John 5:30 "I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me. 31 " If I bear witness of Myself, My witness is not true. 32 "There is another who bears witness of Me, and I know that the witness which He witnesses of Me is true. 33 "You have sent to John, and he has borne witness to the truth. 34 "Yet I do not receive testimony from man, but I say these things that you may be saved.
Once again, Jesus is teaching that everything He does is by the will of the Father. So when He judges, it is always a righteous judgment because it comes from the Father. We need to keep in mind that Jesus knew what people were thinking. This ability made it possible for Him to know exactly what issues to deal with those He met without them having to say a word. These Jews had already accused Jesus of making Himself equal to God, and He knows they were thinking His testimony alone was not enough to prove He is the Son of God. So in verse 31, Jesus tells them His testimony alone is not enough, but He does have a witness, His Father in Heaven. Both the Old and New Testament teach us about using multiple witnesses (Deut. 17:6; 19:15; Mt. 18:16; 2 Cor. 13:1; 1 Tim. 5:19).
Some get confused and think Jesus was talking about John the Baptist being His witness because in verse 33 Jesus starts talking about him. However, in verse 32, Jesus says the one that bears witness of Him is continually bearing witness of Him because the word “witness” is in the present tense, which denotes a continuous action. But in verse 33, when Jesus says that John bore witness of Him, the word “witness” is in the perfect tense, which means his witness of Jesus was completed in the past. Jesus shows He did not have John in mind in verse 31 because He says in verse 34, “Yet I do not receive testimony from man, but I say these things that you may be saved.” While John’s message was from God, He did not need a human to be His witness since He has God the Father as His witness.
These Jews who wanted to put Jesus to death had heard the testimony of John the Baptist (Jn. 1:19), and he testified that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of God, the Bridegroom, and the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world (Jn. 1:19-35; 3:23-36). John also said, “He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him” (Jn. 3:36). This is why Jesus is reminding these Jews about John’s message so they might take it to heart and be saved.
John 5:35 "He was the burning and shining lamp, and you were willing for a time to rejoice in his light. 36 "But I have a greater witness than John's; for the works which the Father has given Me to finish -- the very works that I do -- bear witness of Me, that the Father has sent Me. 37 "And the Father Himself, who sent Me, has testified of Me. You have neither heard His voice at any time, nor seen His form.
Verse 35 suggests that these Jews standing before Jesus had accepted John’s testimony, and they rejoiced in his news. However, when they found out that he proclaimed Jesus as being this coming Messiah, they stopped believing. So far, we have seen three witnesses that Jesus is the Son of God: Jesus Himself, the Father, and John the Baptist. A fourth witness was the works that Jesus was doing by the will of the Father. For instance, when He made the lame man walk on the Sabbath, it should have been sufficient to show that He is the Son of God.
Verse 37 teaches that the Father has testified of Jesus. He did this verbally on several occasions (Mk. 1:11; 9:7; Jn. 12:28-30). So, what does it mean when Jesus tells them, “You have neither heard His voice at any time, nor seen His form.” We have already examined how God has not been seen “as He is” in John chapter 1, but how can Jesus say that they had not heard His voice? It is possible that these Jews were not around during the times the Father spoke from heaven. However, it's also possible that they heard Him speak, but they did not understand what He said. Based on the context, this is the most logical answer to me especially when we consider the Greek word “akouo”, which is translated “hear”, which means “To hear; to attend to, consider what is or has been said; To understand, perceive the sense of what is said…” (Thayer). This is the reason it is important to do a word study because the word “hear” means much more than simply hearing something. This means the Jews could have heard God’s voice from heaven, yet still be accused of not hearing because they did not understand what was being said.
John 5:38 "But you do not have His word abiding in you, because whom He sent, Him you do not believe. 39 "You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. 40 "But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.
Here is Jesus’ fifth witness, the Word of God. Jesus acknowledges that these Jews have searched the Scriptures, but they have not understood them. If they had, they would believe Jesus is the Christ. There are over 300 prophecies about the coming Messiah and His work, and Jesus has been fulfilling those prophecies. These Jews should have been able to understand this fact and realize He is the Son of God, but since they are not willing to accept this, they will not be able to be saved.
This is the same problem that many in the world have today. They have the Word of God available to them in different languages and versions, yet they will not take heed to what it says. Others have preconceived ideas about what the Bible teaches based on what others have taught, and this causes them to not be able to open their eyes to what it actually says. Just like these Jews, they have a great zeal for God, but not according to knowledge (Rom. 10:1-3). They continue to learn, but they do not grasp the knowledge of the Scriptures (2 Tim. 3:6-7), which is why it is important that we do not approach the Word of God with preconceived ideas. Instead, we must study it with an open mind so we can understand what it is saying. If we see that changes need to be made in our lives or in our beliefs, then we need to make those changes so they conform to the Word of God.
John 5:41"I do not receive honor from men. 42 "But I know you, that you do not have the love of God in you.
Jesus was not healing people and doing these wonderful works to receive praise from men. He was doing them to glorify His Father in heaven (Jn. 17:4). If Jesus had wanted the praise of men, He could have stayed around after feeding the 5000 and let them make Him a king, but He did not (Jn. 6:15). Since Jesus could read their hearts, He knew the love of God was not in them (Jn. 8:47; 1 Jn. 5:3).
John 5:43 "I have come in My Father's name, and you do not receive Me; if another comes in his own name, him you will receive. 44 "How can you believe, who receive honor from one another, and do not seek the honor that comes from the only God?
To come in someone’s name means that a person will represent him separate and apart from his own will, which is exactly what Jesus did. He came with the authority of the Father to do His blessed will, yet they would not receive Him. However, they had no problem accepting others who came in their own name boasting in their own glory and using flattering words. These Jews loved the praise of men more than the praise of God (Jn. 12:43), which kept some of them from confessing Jesus as Lord even though they believed in Him (Jn. 12:42).
The Jews were fooled several times by false Messiahs. The German theologian, Schudt, quoting an earlier Jewish writer said:
That at least sixty-four pretenders to the messiahship had been accepted by the Jews at one time or another, including Bar-Kocheba who deceived the chief officer of the Sanhedrin. Gamaliel, "a doctor of the law," and a man highly honored by the Jews, made mention of deceivers in his day who succeeded in leading many Jews astray (Acts 5:34-37). These men came without authority, and to promote their own honor and they were accepted; Jesus, clothed with authority from the Father, and acting in his name they rejected. Thus, far from being perceptive, they were credulous and easily duped by deceivers because of their love for flattery and worldly praise (Guy N. Woods, A Commentary on the Gospel according to John (Nashville, Tennessee: Gospel Advocate Company, 1987) p.113).
Just as the Jews were fooled by men like these, we must be careful not to get caught up following after false teachers who speak smooth words (Rom. 16:18). Their works will reveal if they are seeking glory for themselves or glory for the Lord (Mt. 7:20). A true servant of God should not be persuaded by the praise of others or the amount of money that is coming their way. Instead, they should preach the Word and glorify God (2 Tim. 4:1-5; Gal. 1:9-11).
John 5:45 "Do not think that I shall accuse you to the Father; there is one who accuses you -- Moses, in whom you trust. 46 "For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me. 47 "But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?"
In these last words, Jesus drives His point home. Jesus lets them know that He does not have to accuse them of anything because the man they put their trust in wrote about Him. Moses is the sixth witness that Jesus is the Son of God. We do not know if Jesus was referring to all the things that Moses wrote about the coming Messiah, but the following verse certainly would be one of them:
Deuteronomy 18:15 " The LORD your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your midst, from your brethren.
The Jews wanted to hang onto the Law of Moses, but it was designed to bring them and everyone else to Christ. As Paul wrote in:
Galatians 3:22 But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. 23 But before faith came, we were kept under guard by the law, kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed. 24 Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 25 But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.
If these Jews were not willing to believe in what Moses wrote about Jesus, then they would not believe Jesus’ words. The Jew’s reaction to what Jesus said is not recorded, but they had to be filled with awe as Jesus read their hearts and gave them six witnesses that proved He was the Son of God. He also told them why they did not believe. It is a real shame that many of these Jews could not open their eyes to the truth, but many are the same way today. All we can do is what Jesus did, just keep teaching them the truth and hope that one day they will remove the blinders from their eyes and turn to God.