Sermon Titled “God Speaks To Us” (John 5:16-24) – Week 6 of the Experiencing God Study – 22nd February, 2015
- John 5:16-14 16 So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jewish leaders began to persecute him. 17 In his defense Jesus said to them, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working.” 18 For this reason they tried all the more to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.19 Jesus gave them this answer: “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. 20 For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, and he will show him even greater works than these, so that you will be amazed. 21 For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it. 22 Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, 23 that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him.24 “Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.”
Why does God speak to us, and how can we know that He does? Those are both good questions, and ones that the verses above can help us with. In John 5:16-24, we hear from Jesus as He responds to the Jews who were relentlessly seeking to destroy him; they deeply resented Jesus’ claims of deity and his blatant disregard of the Sabbath.
When Jesus spoke, he vindicated himself by explaining that God (his father, not by creation or adoption, but by nature), did indeed end his work of creation on the seventh day – and then rested – but yet he is always at work. Not work as we understand it, but work that involves the saving of as many lost souls as possible. In that capacity, God never ceases to work – His nature is “to work,” just as it is the nature of fire to burn, or of humans to breathe. And since Jesus is the son of the Father, and he does what the Father does, he too is always at work, whether on the Sabbath or off.
Jesus continues his response to the Jews; he addresses their protests regarding his so-called equality with God, and says, “I tell you the truth, the son can do nothing by Himself, he can only do what he sees his Father doing.” His statement is not a weak admission, but a bold proclamation; he is essentially saying that first and foremost, he is the son of God, and second, the nature of his relationship with his Father is such that he can do nothing “independently” or apart from Him.
Jesus’ words were offensive to the Jews; how dare this insignificant man, this mere son of a carpenter, assert that God is his Father? That was possibly the most vile form of blasphemy – deserving of death – and incredibly, that thinking still stands today; Christians are still persecuted for their faith in Jesus Christ (see this article posted just a few days ago about twenty one Coptic Christians beheaded by ISIS).
Still, Jesus is not intimidated. He goes even further with his statements, and says that he is:
- Equal to God “in works” – John 5:17-19 “My Father is always at work to this very day, and I too am working………the Son can do nothing by himself; he can only do what he sees his Father doing.” These verses suggest that Jesus is able to literally see the works that God is doing, and that he therefore has exclusive knowledge. If he alone has the power to see and know what God is doing, and if he has the power to heal the sick and crippled, then surely he also has the authority to work on the Sabbath.
- Equal to God “in judgment” – despite the many divine miracles that Jesus performed, many still rejected him. Yet, God purposely gave Jesus the final authority to judge, so that all men would honor the son. If a man chooses not to honor Jesus, he is unequivocally making a simultaneous decision to also dishonor God.
- Equal to God “in honor” – if the son is to be honored on the same level as the Father, then that makes the two equal, and if the two are equal then we have a way of answering the questions presented at the beginning of this post: “Why does God speak to us, and how can we know that He does?”
Assuming then, that Jesus’ words are true and that he is the son of God, with equal authority, we can find the answer in John 16:12-13. When Jesus was near the end of his time on earth, he spoke to his disciples and forewarned them of his pending departure, adding that he had much more to say to them. He reassured them that they would continue to hear from him, but through the Holy Spirit, who would be sent in his place to guide them into all truth – as directed by God the Father.
God, through his son Jesus Christ, and the power of the Holy Spirit, wants to speak to us; He has much more to say to us! He desires for us to listen and to respond, to be the church and not just go to church. That means listening to His Spirit on a daily basis, and responding to those cues to help in small ways (helping a single mom in your neighborhood, showing concern for a troubled co-worker, or volunteering at church), and also in ways that will require a larger sacrifice (a significant financial contribution, turning down a promotion, or going on a mission trip).
Too often we’re tempted to listen only for the cues that satisfy our needs. Joyce Meyer says that when we are unwilling to hear in one area, then it may render us unable to hear in other areas; we remain fixed in one place, unable to move further on in our faith and in our relationship with God.
God is not asking for us to invite Him into our lives so that He can follow us on our life journey; instead He is asking us to give up our life journey and follow Him on His, thereby placing all of our hope and faith in Him (because we believe the testimony of His son), and trusting that when He speaks to us it is always for our good.
On the flip side, if God is not speaking to you, then ask yourself why, and consider what that means if Christ says that only those who are in relationship with He and His Father, and those who believe in the Gospel, will be saved from condemnation.
God speaks to us, but will you listen, and will you respond?