Jesus claims that He is equal to God and that leaves us with three options. Option one, that is a true claim and He is equal to God. Option two: that claim is false and He knows it. That means He is an intentional blasphemer because He knows it’s a lie. The third option is that the claim is false, and He doesn’t know it, in which case He is deranged. He is a madman.
Those are the only options. Now, up to this point He has proven that the latter two options are ridiculous because deceivers and crazy people don’t raise the dead. And they don’t control the demonic world, and they don’t conquer disease, and they don’t take power over nature. All of which He did. And they don’t speak with divine wisdom with omniscient insight.
We’re left with only one possibility. Jesus is who He claimed to be. His miracles were never denied. Read through all four gospels, there’s never one verse, or one line indicating that His miracles were denied. They were all supernatural, they were everywhere and they were like that all the time. He demonstrated supernatural knowledge, wisdom and insight. And the miracle worker is not a deceiver.
He did His miracles before masses of people day after day, literally adding up to hundreds of thousands of eyewitnesses. The crowds followed Him everywhere He went. Albeit with superficial curiosity and we find that as soon as John 6, they started to leave Him. And this demonstrated the power of the false religion to which they were bound. False religion holds people captive.
Paul says in 2 Corinthians 4:4, “The god of this world has blinded their minds.” What He means is that Satan disguised as an angel of light concocts false religious systems that hold people in bondage and blindness. And the system of apostate satanically controlled, Judaism was so powerful that in the face of all that Jesus did, the people still ran back to their false leaders.
That’s illustrated in John 5. Jesus goes to the pool of Bethsaida on a Sabbath, He finds a lame man there who has been there for 38 years. Jesus comes along, and the lame man doesn’t know who He is, and He says, “Pick up your bed and walk.” He picks up his bed and walks, instantaneously, completely and fully healed. The man walks away. And it happened on a Sabbath day.
The Jewish leaders castigate Jesus for doing work on a Sabbath. Jesus goes to the Temple to find the man after the man leaves. Jesus finds him in the Temple, and at that point reveals Himself to him, and closes the conversation by saying to the man, “Go and sin no more, you’ve got to repent.” But the man didn’t follow Jesus, he went back to the Jewish leaders and turned Jesus in.
That’s a miniature for the whole nation. Jesus was healing people everywhere all the time through the three years of His ministry, but they were just going back into their religious system. Satan invented that form of Judaism to hold people in bondage. The reality is that Jesus comes to bring salvation, first to Israel, but it is rejected by the false religious system of the Pharisees and the scribes.
Now His speech to these Jewish leaders is in John 5:17-47. But in just these verses, our Lord declares His equality with God in six ways. Last Sunday we looked at just the first few. The answer in summation is really this: I do whatever I choose to do, whenever I choose to do it because I’m God. I’m not subject to your laws. The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.
First, Jesus is equal to God in nature. Verse 17, “He answered them, ‘My Father is working until now and I Myself am working.’” Jesus is saying, “I am of the same nature as God.” And then to add to that, He says, “The Father is working until now,” in other words, the Father doesn’t pay any attention to the Sabbath, the Father doesn’t rest, and I don’t either. He’s working and I’m working.
Secondly, in verses 19 and 20 Jesus declared Himself to be equal with God in works. Jesus and His Father are one in nature, and they are therefore one in function, one in duty and one in work. The Son doesn’t operate independently from God. He is telling the Jewish leaders that He only does what the Father does. In other words, the love of the Father is so perfect that the Father has no secrets from the Son.
Jesus has always known everything, He has known everything eternally, the Father wills, that He always knows everything there is to know, there are no secrets in the Trinity. The Father doesn’t know something the Son doesn’t know, the Father doesn’t do something the Son doesn’t do. The Father doesn’t will something the Son doesn’t will because of the perfect love in the Trinity.
So in verse 20, Jesus says, “The Father will show greater works than these so that you will marvel.” And what are the greater works? Verses 21 and 22, the final resurrection and the final judgment. Whatever it is that those people think about Jesus will be resolved in the end when those people who reject Christ are raised from the dead by the power of Christ and face Him as the eternal judge.
Thirdly, this is where we were last Sunday, Jesus claims to be equal to God in power. We use the word “power” for all kinds of things. But this is the ultimate power. Verse 21, “For as the Father raises the dead and gives life to them, even so the Son gives life to whom He will.” The ultimate power in the universe is the ability to give life. In Acts 17, Paul talks about God who gives life and breath to all.
Remember concerning the Word who is Christ, John 1:3-4 says, “All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. 4 In Him was life.” The eternal God has life as an uncaused attribute. You were given life by your parents and it all goes back to a point in time when there was no life, except the triune God who is the eternal life and He gave life to everything.
And it came in many forms. We talk about biological life. We understand that it would include humans and all of the animate living creation. There is even inanimate life. You might consider that that thing doesn’t have life, but it is in motion at an incalculable speed and complexity as the atoms are moving endlessly, driven by an internal energy which is invisible and incalculable.
There is also that other invisible life which is spiritual life which we can’t see in each other but which is evident. All of the whole of the universe, whether it is inanimate, or animate, visible or invisible is all from God who made everything, or from Christ without whom nothing was made that was made. Nothing exists that He didn’t wish to exist. Nothing came into existence by any evolutionary process.
Number four, Jesus is equal to God in authority. Genesis 18:25 says, “God the Father is the judge of all the earth.” The Jews certainly believe that. Listen to what Jesus said in verse 22, “For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son.” These internal realities in the Trinity are really hard for us to grasp because it’s hard to understand that He is God and yet with God.
It’s hard to understand that God is the judge and yet Christ does the judging because we can’t understand the internal workings of the Trinity. And that profound mystery alone should prove to you that the Bible was written by God, because men would resolve those kinds of apparent paradoxes. In Genesis 1, God creates; in John 1, the Son creates. In the Old Testament God is the judge; in the New Testament the Son is the judge.
How can that be? Because the Son does everything the Father does in the same way the Father does it. Jesus is claiming to be the supreme judge of all beings. Back in John 3:18, He said, “He who believes in Him, that is in the Son, is not judged. He who does not believe has been judged already because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”
And the phrase in that verse ‘has been judged already’ means that people aren’t waiting for judgment in the future. This is the illusion of religion, that you live your life and if the good outweighs the bad, God knows, and at the end He’ll make a judgment. No. All that goodness doesn’t mean a thing in terms of your eternity. You have been judged already because you do not believe in the Son.
Well what about the future judgment? That’s only the execution. The verdict was made when you arrived in this world rejecting the Son and it continues to be the same verdict until you believe. And if you never believe, that verdict is set. The final judgment is just the execution. What you do along the way of good works is meaningless. So the Son is equal to the Father in judgment.
Verse 23, “That all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.” Since the Son is the reason you exist and the Son is the one who determines your eternal destiny, since the Son is the beginning and the end, since the Son is the alpha and the omega, the Son is to be honored even as the Father is honored.
That is a devastating claim coming from a man standing there talking to them. This is the consequence of all the previous claims, so that the only possible right response to the one who created everything and who will bring everything to its consummation, and who upholds everything by the word of His power, the only possible response is that He is to be honored in the same way that God is to be honored.
In John 6:28, the people say, “What shall we do so that we may work the works of God?” What does God want out of us? “29 And Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God that you believe in Him whom He sent.” Remember at the baptism, God says out of heaven, “This is My beloved Son in whom I am well-pleased.” Listen to John 15:23, “He who hates Me, hates My Father also.”
It’s popular today, to imagine that Jews in particular don’t have to believe in Christ, that somehow if they’re just good Jews and they believe the Old Testament and believe in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the Creator God of the Old Testament, that God doesn’t require them to believe in Jesus. That’s a popular thought offered by some evangelical preachers that is totally wrong.
Verse 24, “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.” What it says here is to have eternal life, you have to hear and believe My Word and you have to hear and believe the Word of Him who sent Me. You escape judgment, only when you believe what the Father and the Son says.
All the teaching, all the claims, all the commands that come from Christ and from the Father point to Christ and to the need of man, all must be believed because they’re equal in truth. To say, as the Mormons do, that Jesus is a created spirit brother of Lucifer who was created by a god is a damning heresy. My fear is that just like the Jews, you will hear everything and still go back to your corrupt religious system.
Hebrews 1:1-3, “God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, 2 has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; 3 who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power.”
Jesus is also the radiance of the glory of God. He puts God on display. So in Christ, the glorious light of God shines into the hearts of men, producing light and life. Further describing who He is, Christ is the exact representation of God’s nature, the exact substance of God’s nature. He is the essence of God. He is the one, according to verse 3, who upholds all things by the Word of His power.
It is stressing the fact that Jesus didn’t just make the world, that is to say the earth and the complex systems of life that are here. This is not strictly the physical earth, but is a reference to the fact that He has created ages. That is to say He has created time and space and force and energy and matter and everything. He is the Creator of absolutely everything.
If the globe which is tilted on its axis in an angle of 23 degrees, where altered, we would lose our seasons. If the moon didn’t remain at an exact distance from the earth, the ocean tide would inundate the land completely twice a day. If the ocean slipped to a few feet deeper than it is carbon dioxide and the oxygen in the earth’s atmosphere would be completely absorbed and no vegetable life could exist.
If the atmosphere didn’t remain constant, but thinned out, meteors would hit the earth and we would be constantly bombarded to death. Who holds all this in a delicate balance? That Galilean carpenter Jesus standing there looking at those Jews. This is who He is. Hebrews 1:3 continues, “When He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.”
Now what is the response of these Jews to what Jesus says? Look at verse 37, “And the Father who sent Me, He has testified of Me.” How? At His baptism, “This is My beloved Son in whom I’m well-pleased,” through His miracles, through His words, through John the Baptist. Jesus says to them, “If you don’t embrace the Son, you don’t know God at all.” Let us embrace Jesus, let us pray.