We have been looking at one of the great discourses that our Lord ever gave, this lengthy presentation of the fact that He is God that began in John 5:17 and runs all the way to verse 47. And let us read John 5:25 – 29 which is our lesson tonight, “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. 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 judgment.”
Every person who has or will live on this earth will experience resurrection. I know that we as believers understand the Christian resurrection that God has planned for His people, but you need to understand also that every human being who has ever lived will be raised from the dead and there will be a literal, physical resurrection of the ungodly just as there will be of the godly.
There will be a physical resurrection unto judgment just as there will be a physical resurrection unto life. All men who ever live on this earth will be raised from the dead. When the body goes into the ground that is not the last appearance of that person in visible form. Eternity is not just a place for spirits, it is a place for resurrected bodies containing spirits.
The resurrection is the subject of this passage. And it is in this passage that our Lord makes the claim that He is the one who raises the dead and then judges all of them. Here Jesus is talking to Jewish leaders in Israel. As far as they are concerned, He is a false teacher, even though they know He does miracles, they have explained them as power coming from Satan.
But how does resurrection relate to His claim of deity? Well, because our Lord says that He raises the dead and He judges as God raises the dead and gives life and judges. So Jesus is the one who introduced the subject of resurrection and judgment. So this is all a part of this long explanatory message that Jesus is giving about His identity to these Jewish leaders.
Jesus responds to these condemnations from the Jews by elevating His claims. We saw in verses 17 - 24, that He claims to be equal with God in person, equal to God in works, equal to God in power, equal to God in judgment or authority, equal to God in honor, and equal to God in truth. What He says is as true as what God says and as God is to be heard and believed, so Jesus is to be heard and believed also.
And in verses 21 and 22, are these two claims that essentially are the highest of all claims, Jesus has the power to give life and the power to judge. That is to say, He brings people into existence and then determines the nature of their eternal existence. He is unmistakable God. And now Jesus tells them that He has the power to give life and the power and authority to judge.
So He discusses in verses 25 to 29 two types of resurrection that are eternal. There is a resurrection to eternal life, and there is a resurrection to eternal damnation. But first, let’s look in verses 25 and 26 at the spiritual resurrection. Verse 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.”
That is not talking about the future physical resurrection. The resurrection that was already happening is a spiritual resurrection. So Jesus says in verses 25-26, “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.”
“The hour is coming and now is.” Something has arrived already and yet has a future aspect. What could that be? Well it is the spiritual resurrection. The New Testament era began when our Lord began His ministry. The ministry of the Lord begun when He arrived, the ministry of redemption, salvation and of sanctification, and it will not end until the work of redemption is complete.
This is just our Lord’s way of saying regeneration has begun. When Jesus said to Nicodemus, “You must be born again,” that is both happening now and to come. This is an ongoing ministry, the saving work of the Lord Jesus is already beginning to make people alive spiritually. As Jesus spoke to the Jews that day, He had the power in that very hour to give people spiritual life.
Look at verse 24 again, “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My Word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life.” That’s all in present tense. And so that is the “now is” of verse 25, “The hour is coming, and now is, when the (spiritually) dead, will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live.” Jesus is simply saying that regeneration has begun.
Even before the cross, Jesus gave life. Even before His own resurrection, He was giving life to people. At the end of John 3 Jesus says this, “He who believes in the Son has eternal life.” Remember in John 4:42, they said to the Samaritan woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves and know that this one is indeed the Savior of the world.”
So they believed and they were being given eternal life. There can be some confusion between this spiritual resurrection by Jesus Christ and when the fullness of the cross and His own resurrection are accomplished. In the period between the arrival of Christ and His own death, He was still giving spiritual life to those who believe. They believed in the true and living God.
The Holy Spirit hadn’t come yet in the full sense of convicting the world of sin and righteousness and judgment. Pentecost hadn’t happened yet and therefore the Holy Spirit hadn’t come and filled the church and taken up residence in the believers to cause them to have the power to give the witness to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the world, that was their promise in Acts 1:8. So those things hadn’t happened.
That’s the hour that is coming. So when we look at that little phrase, “The hour is coming,” we could say about that hour that’s the fullness of the revelation of the cross and the tomb and the arrival of the Holy Spirit and the work of the Spirit through the church in taking the gospel to the ends of the earth. That hour is coming in its fullness, but there’s a sense in which it now is.
Similarly salvation would also be given to the Old Testament saints, who were looking forward to the savior who would come and those early believers in the New Testament. This was before the cross, before the resurrection, before the arrival of the Holy Spirit, which were all affirming who Jesus Christ, who had come, actually was. So Jesus is referring to a spiritual resurrection.
Nothing is more characteristic, nothing is more essential in the ministry of Jesus than giving spiritual life to those who are spiritually dead. This is not about a man teaching ethics, or morality, or virtue, or religious ideologies. This is one who gives life to spiritually dead people. They receive that life because they hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live.
He is the only voice with the only message that gives life in a world of spiritual death. Only those who hear His voice come alive spiritually. Now this is not just a general hearing, but this is effectual hearing from the heart. This is not just information, this is transformation. This is God reaching down and giving life and then speaking with a voice that the heart and soul hears.
In Matthew 7:22, “Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’” This is not a physical hearing. This is an effectual hearing in the believing heart and soul.
Spiritually dead men don’t come alive by some religious motion, or ceremony. They don’t come alive by some ritual. They don’t come alive through the cleverness of a teacher. They don’t come alive by self-improvement. They come alive when the voice of Christ calls out. Ephesians 5:14 says, “Awake, you who sleep, arise from the dead and Christ will give you light.”
Ephesians 2:1-6 says, “And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, 2 in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience.” That describes the condition of all human beings. Verse 3, “You were living in the lust of your flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh, the mind.”
Verse 3 continues, “We’re by nature children of wrath even as others, 4 but God being rich in mercy because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ, by grace you have been saved 6 and raised us up with Him and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.”
Jesus is then saying to these Jewish leaders, “I am the very one who gives spiritual life to those who are spiritually dead.” Christ says to these Jewish leaders in John 5:39-40, “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life. But it is these that testify about Me, that I’m the only source of eternal life, 40 but you’re not willing to come to Me so that you may have life.”
Verse 26, “For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself.” As God is the fountain of life, so Christ is the fountain of life and so the Spirit is the fountain of life. Each member of the Trinity has equal power and they share the same attributes. But there was a restriction during Christ’s humiliation of His divine attributes, He chose to limit Himself to that which the Father wills.
Life is the sole possession of the Trinity. Life is the sole possession of God who is the life-giver and of Christ who is also the life giver. That life comes only to those who hear His voice, and by that voice have their heart awakened. And that is a divine work, not apart from our faith in Christ. For us, it’s the truth that He is the Son of God who died and rose again and sent the Holy Spirit.
Verse 27-29, “And has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man. 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.” Now we’re talking about something that will happen in the future.
Why is He called Son of Man in judgment? Because as Son of Man, He is the Messiah. But as Son of Man He understands perfectly because He lived as a man and being tempted in all points like as we are, yet without sin, He has perfect knowledge of all human experience and therefore His justice is secured by His experience as well as divine knowledge as just and accurate and perfect.
So God gives Jesus authority to execute judgment because He is the Son of Man. Don’t be shocked by what I’m going to tell you, but the hour is coming when His voice will be heard again and it will empty all the graves of this planet. What He means is that the dead will take on a physical form. And this will bring bodies to join their spirits already out of the presence of God or in the presence of God.
This is astonishing power. How does God literally in a moment recreate every human being who has ever lived and join that recreated form suitable for heaven or hell with the spirit of the person already in the presence of God or out of His presence? It will begin with the Rapture of the church when believing Christians who are alive will be caught up in the air and they’ll be changed on the way up.
There will be a resurrection at the end of the Tribulation. Daniel talks about that, the resurrection of Tribulation believers and Jews. There will then be a millennial kingdom of a thousand years and at the end of that, the dead from all human history who are unregenerate and ungodly will be raised and brought before the Great White Throne Judgment of Revelation 20 to be judged.
It does not happen in one moment. There will be in the future the resurrection of the just, the righteous and that will include the Rapture of the church, and the resurrection of believers at the end of the time of Tribulation. And there will be resurrections during the millennial kingdom. And then there will be the resurrection of the unjust people at the end of the thousand years.
“What will that body be like?” Well for us as believers, Philippians 3 says it will be like the Lord Jesus’ glorious body. That is Jesus’ resurrection body. It was visible, He walked, He talked, He ate, but at the same time He walked through a wall. That is all we are told. Just remember John 3:15, “Whoever believes will in Him have eternal life.” Cry out to God to grant you faith to believe, Amen? Let us pray.