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Sunday, July 22, 2018

posted Jul 24, 2018, 10:51 AM by Site Administrator

WHOEVER HEARS MY WORD…

 

John 5:16-30

Key Verse 5:24

 

I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.

 

First, "For the Father loves the Son,..." (16-23). In the previous passage, we learned how Jesus healed the invalid of 38 years by simply saying his word, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” This man had wasted the past 38 years of his precious life just complaining. But Jesus did not allow him to complain any more. Instead, he gave him a clear direction to get up and live a powerful life. When the word of Jesus was heard in this man, his feeble and shriveled muscles and bones gained new strength and he got up. But this man was not thankful for what Jesus had done for him. When his personal benefit was at stake, he betrayed Jesus’ grace by telling the religious cops that it was Jesus who had directed him to pick up the mat and walk on the Sabbath. Because of his betrayal, now Jesus was charged with two felonies: one, running his clinic on the Sabbath, and two, directing others to work on the Sabbath. What was Jesus’ defense? Let’s read verse 17 together:

 

Jesus said to them, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working.”

 

Here, Jesus explained to them the reason why he worked even on the Sabbath. It was because his Father had been working hard even on the Sabbath, so he, the Son, also worked on the Sabbath. While the Father was working hard, how could the Son just take it easy, relax and do nothing? He couldn’t, so he worked hard. “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working.” This short sentence of Jesus makes us think a lot. Many people think that things automatically are to go as God planned. But that’s not true. Instead, this expression shows that God is working hard to make sure that everything goes according to his plan and purpose. Things go according to God’s plan and purpose due to God’s hard work. He has never rested, but has worked hard to make sure that everything goes according to his will. The word, “Sabbath” means “rest.” After creating the universe and everything in it in six days, God wanted to celebrate his six days’ creation. So on the 7th day, he proclaimed a universal holiday so that all his creation would celebrate what He had done for them. On that day, He rested from what He had done, and blessed all creation to participate in His rest. But sadly, the first man Adam sinned, was disconnected from God, and thereby, could not have rest in God any more. Due to his sin, mankind became miserable and endless wanderers on earth who would work and work only to return to the dust. God had pity on lost mankind, and decided to bring them back to his rest. Thus, God’s mission for the lost world began, and since then, God has been at his work all the time. Still, God’s mission has not been completed. In Genesis chapter 2:2, we see God resting on the first Sabbath, but  since then, there is no record in the Bible that he has rested; instead, in today’s passage Jesus says that God has been working all this time, and even today he is working without taking any Sabbath rest. For the past 6,000 years, God has been at his work to bring lost mankind back to his rest.

 

Jesus says, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working.” When Jesus the Son knew how hard His Father was working, he could not take it easy, relax and rest. Instead, in honor and respect for His Father, he too worked hard even on the Sabbath, even at the risk of his own life, teaching the word of God to many and healing the sick. Now God is at his work today and our master Jesus is working also. Then, what should we, children of God, do? Should we relax and pursue our own comfortable life here in the world? Should we take it easy, only enjoying beautiful Southern California weather and delicious food all the time? No! Surely, it is not the time for us to rest, but the time for us to work hard together with God the Father and the Son, Jesus. It is not the time for us to think about resting or pursuing a comfortable life, but instead, we must actively participate in God’s redemption work by teaching students the word of God diligently. One time, a hard working servant felt very tired and thought that he needed some rest. So he visited his shepherd, a prominent spiritual leader and said to him that he needed some rest. Then, his shepherd told him, “Work harder, and you will have rest in heaven.” We have this hope to enter the true and eternal rest in heaven. So, let's throw away any hint of an easy going life or desire for rest on earth, and instead work hard until we enter the true rest in God. Let’s remember these words of Jesus our Lord all the time: “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working.”

 

When the Jews heard this, they should have appreciated Jesus’ burning heart’s desire and his hard work to serve God’s redemptive purpose even on the Sabbath. But they did not know God at all even though they had a lot of Bible knowledge. Instead, they got angrier than before and tried all the harder to kill him because they thought that not only was Jesus breaking the Sabbath, but he was also blaspheming by calling God his Father, making himself equal with God.

 

So, in verses 19 through 23, Jesus told them great things God did for him, showing God's special affection for him, thus proving why it was totally okay for him to call God, "my Father." Jesus says in verses 19 and 20a, "I tell you the truth, 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. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does." Here, Jesus explains how he could heal the invalid of 38 years by just simply saying, "Get up! Pick up your mat and walk." It was impossible for any human being to do, but Jesus did it. How could he do that? Jesus says that he could do that because he saw his Father doing the same thing, so he figured it out and now he did it. In the Old Testament, God healed many people of their diseases, and the Jews just read about them, and were amazed. God did not show them how he did it, so no human being could do it. But God showed his Son Jesus how he did it, and so Jesus too could do it too. It was because God loved his Son. Jesus says, “For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does.” “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.” It was like a family recipe in which a father only shares it with his beloved son or daughter. Now no one knew this special family recipe but only Jesus. So in the whole world only he could do that. How come his Father showed only him how to make this family recipe? Because he is his Son! A special bond was there. With this Jesus proved the special bonded he enjoyed with his Father. The miraculous works Jesus had been doing proved the Father’s deep and special love for His Son. When the Jews saw Jesus doing all those miraculous works of which no human being could do, they had to recognize God’s special love for Jesus, and honor him as the Son of God.

 

Jesus also says that the Father will show the Son even greater things than these. What can be even greater than all the miraculous healings he had performed so far? Jesus says, "For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to those whom he is pleased to give it." Whatever God did, Jesus can do without limit because God showed him everything. This really proves the Father's love for the Son.

 

Jesus also says, "Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son,..." As the Creator, God has to judge each of his creatures according to what each of them has done on earth. But, instead of judging all his creatures, God entrusted the job of judgment to his Son Jesus. God exalted Jesus highly above all names with authority to judge them all. Why did he do so? He did so, because He loved the Son so much that He wanted him to be honored and respected by all the people. Whoever honors the Son, honors the Father who sent him. The Jews said they loved God and they said they were worshippers of God, but when God sent someone to teach them and show them what he wanted them to do, they rejected him, thus they rejected God. Those who did not honor the one God sent to them did not honor God the Father. By showing them glorious things God did for him, Jesus proved God's love for him, and thereby, showed them that it was totally okay for him to call God "my Father."

 

Second, "Whoever hears my word,..." (24-30). Look at verse 24. Let’s read this verse together:

 

24"I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.

 

So far, Jesus showed them who he was and how glorious he was - God's beloved Son who had power to heal and authority to judge all. After establishing his own credentials this way, Jesus showed them what he did for the world. As the judge of all, as God's beloved Son, with such power and authority, Jesus gives eternal life to everyone who hears his words and believes in God. This is really amazing. Normally, those who have power and authority want to exercise it by telling others to do this and that. Even a security guard wants to exercise his authority. But Jesus is different. With such great authority to judge all, Jesus gives eternal life to everyone who hears his word. This shows what kind of person he is. What kind of person is he? He is a good person having good intention for us, and being concerned about our wellbeing and happiness. Jesus has good plans for you; Jesus wants you to have eternal life.

 

So what is eternal life? Eternal life is the very key theme the author talks about in John's gospel from the beginning to the end. He first testified about this eternal life in John 1:4, saying, "In him was life and that life was the light of men." In him was zoe, eternal life, and that eternal life was the light of men. Eternal life was the very life Nicodemus wanted to have, but when he didn't have it, his life was empty and he was miserable and depressed despite his great success and achievement. Eternal life is the very life the thirsty Samaritan woman looked for, but could not find in her husband; but when she turned to Jesus, she found it in him and she was overjoyed and satisfied - when she had eternal life in Jesus, all her thirst problem was gone, and she no longer lived as a self-seeking woman or as a condemned sinner, but as an evangelist bringing all the townspeople to Jesus; she became powerful and a happy woman. John's purpose in writing this book is so that people may believe that Jesus is the Son of God, and that by believing in him they may eternal life, zoe. (Jn 20:31) Now in this verse, Jesus shows that having eternal life is directly related to not being condemned. "Whoever hears my word and believes in him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned." When you have this eternal life you will not be condemned and your sin will not bother you. But when you do not have eternal life, you will be condemned. Many people’s misunderstanding is that when they go to heaven they will have eternal life. But if they don’t secure eternal life now, they will not secure it later. Today we need to secure enteral life. Also, by saying, "he has crossed over from death to life," Jesus shows that those who do not have eternal life are dead. There are so many students who study hard on our campuses - they get good grades and pursue their career sincerely; yet, they do not have eternal life, so in Jesus' eyes, they are dead people, walking zombies. So even though they are studying hard, they are zombies. They do not have real life, but they just exist by the means of 8 hours of sleep and 3 meals a day. All these people live under condemnation and will be condemned to eternal destruction.

 

But the good news is that when these spiritually dead people hear Jesus' word and believe in God, they come to have eternal life. Right at that moment, they cross over from death to life. Jesus does not require too much for people to have eternal life, but just the minimum: hear his words and believe in God who sent him. When you hear the word of God, you must believe in God. By the way, what does it mean to believe in God? It means to believe in Him that He is good. When you hear the word of God, you must respond with faith in God, believing that God has a good plan for you, believing that God loves you. At that time, you cross over from death to life. This is the reason why we must diligently study the word of God so that we may hear Jesus’ words and believe in God. And this is the reason why we must diligently teach students the word of God because whenever the word of God is preached, there is a chance for people to have eternal life. When we teach the word of God, this miracle of crossing over from death to life will occur in the lives of many souls.

 

Look at verse 25. Let's read this verse together:

 

I tell you the truth, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live.

 

Here, Jesus proclaims the beginning of a new era, the era in which dead people hear the voice of the Son of God and come to have life, eternal life. How can the dead hear the voice of the Son of God? The dead, by definition, do not hear anything; they do not show any response to any stimulation. When you say to a dead body, “Hey, you owe me $50,” that person does not show any response. When we teach students the word of God, we understand this very well. We teach them the beautiful story of God's love for them – For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only Son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life – and as we do so, we even shed many tears. We teach them about true satisfaction in Jesus - no more thirst, but a spring of water, welling up to eternal life – and we are so happy; we talk to them about enjoying life forever in the kingdom of heaven and about the glorious resurrection body, and teach them with such great enthusiasm, sometimes clapping our hands together and saying, “Man, I’m pumped,” and as we teach sometimes a lot of spit comes out. But they do not show any response, except yawning or checking the time on their cell phones, then playing it off as though we didn’t see them. Why do they do this? Because they are dead. So we feel frustrated as if we are speaking to the wall. So, we cry out to God for help with many tears. Then, at a certain moment, one word of God is heard in their heart that they suddenly respond to God’s word saying, "Yes, you are right. I must repent." Or they say, "God loves me," and they cry and cry. Or they say, "Jesus says to me, "Son, your sins are forgiven," and they cry and cry. They begin to show a response to God’s words, then their life changes completely. Indeed, the dead hear the voice of the Son of God. Right at that moment, they cross over from death to life. Right at that moment, eternal life is given to them. We are living in this blessed era when the dead can hear the voice of the Son of God and cross over from death to life immediately. We are witnesses of this blessed era - we ourselves have experienced this miracle - by hearing just one word of God, we crossed over from death to life and started our new life in Jesus Christ. I had studied the Bible for over a year with my shepherd. He struggled hard with me and did everything to help me, but I would not change; I was dead. Then at the fall Bible conference one word of God touched my heart, based on Luke 15:5-6, “When he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’” I was so moved by the shepherd’s love for lost sinners and the joy he had in finding them. From the depth of my heart I accept God’s love for me and repented at that moment. That was the beginning of my new life; at that moment I crossed over from death to life. We all have our own testimony of this - wonderful stories of how God found us and brought us back to Himself through his words. This is the miracle we want to see all the more in the lives of all our students, so we go to school, find sheep, and teach them the word of God diligently.

 

Jesus says, "26For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son to have life in himself. 27And he has given him authority to judge because he is the Son of Man." Here, Jesus introduces Himself as the one who has life in himself, and as the one who has authority to judge all. But in doing so, his emphasis is on God the Father and what God the Father did for him, saying, "he has granted the Son to have life in himself," and "he has given him authority to judge." God the Father loves the Son so much that He wants the Son to do everything He does without limit – the Father and Son enjoy such a complete and perfect bond that it is totally okay for Jesus to call God, "my Father."

 

An interesting expression here is verse 27 - "And he has given him authority to judge because he is the Son of Man." In verse 25, Jesus described himself as "the Son of God," showing how great he was, but in verse 27, he explains why God gave him authority to judge, saying, "because he is the Son of Man." Jesus was God in nature, but instead of considering himself equal with God the Father, he took the form of a servant, becoming a human being, denying his freedom, power and glory to obey, serve and fulfill his Father’s will. Indeed, he submitted himself to God's will and purpose completely, even denying his own nature as God. That was the expression of his love and respect toward God the Father. At this, God the Father felt so honored and happy. When Jesus, the Word who was with God in the beginning, lowered himself and submitted himself to God's authority this much, God exalted him highly with all authority in heaven and on earth, and assigned him to be the judge over all. This is God's way. This is how we must live our life, considering others better than ourselves, submitting ourselves to each other, becoming servants to all. Such people are glorious and beautiful, following the footsteps of Jesus Christ. God exalts such people highly to receive honor and respect, power and authority.

 

Look at verses 28 through 30. Let’s read this passage all together:

 

28"Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice 29and come out-- those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned. 30By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.

 

The message of a dead man crossing over from death to life by just hearing the word of Jesus sounds too amazing, and even unbelievable. But Jesus says, “Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out – those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned.” The miracle of dead people, who are walking and living in the world, crossing over from death to life is truly amazing. But, in Jesus’ eyes, it is a small thing compared to what is going to happen, that is, the dead people in their graves will hear the Son’s voice and come out. Most of them have no human body any more, but just dust in their graves. But when even these dust particles hear the Son’s voice, they will rise and come out of their graves. For what? Either to be judged, or to be rewarded. Jesus, the righteous Judge, the Judge of all, will reward each person according to what he has done while living here on earth. Jesus says in Revelation 22:12, “Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done.”

 

Jesus says, “Do not be amazed at this…” We should not be amazed at Jesus’ message that now is the time for the dead people to cross over from death to life by hearing the Son’s voice. Instead, we must yearn to hear his voice, because if you hear, you cross over from death to life. If you respond with faith in God, you cross over from death to life. We must teach people the word of God diligently in the hope of seeing this miracle in the lives of many.

 

I am very thankful to God for the opportunity to serve this message. Through it I came to see that securing eternal life here and now is of the utmost importance. With so many responsibilities and duties to take care of at work, at home, at church and on the mission field, it is easy for me to find myself just going through the motions, but not really living that zoe life that Jesus talks about continuously. But that all changes when I hear Jesus words and respond to them with a believing heart. At that time I can cross over from death to life, and live newly in God again. This is what I experienced when I started my Christian life – Jesus’ personal word was given to me and I crossed over from death to life. And even more recently, when I was battling with the desire for a comfortable and easygoing life, Jesus spoke his words to me saying, “You will be for me a kingdom of priests and holy nation,” and “For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and future.” Through these words of God, I realized that God has really great plans for me if I would only trust and follow him, instead of pursuing my own things. At that time I was so moved by God that I really repented and decided to put my full trust in Jesus again. At that moment, I could cross over form death to life, and I could enjoy this powerful Christian life again. This is why I need to diligently study God’s words so that Jesus’ words may continually be heard in my heart and I can enjoy this eternal life always.

 

Through meditating on this passage, I was very touched and inspired by how wholeheartedly Jesus worked to bring his words to many dying people. For this he was working hard and continues to work hard even to this day. A little over a week ago I was asked if I could serve this message. At first God’s servant was a little hesitant to ask me because he knew I was very busy, and I too was a little slow to respond knowing that in this short time I would be on business travel for that preparation week. As I think about it now, I could have easily come out of it saying it was too much, or that I was just too busy. But when this was brought up to me I could see that God was encouraging me to give more of my life, time and heart to him. So I accepted. And as I was preparing this message in my hotel room, I was greatly comforted and encouraged by Jesus’ words, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working.” There were so many things that I needed to do such as work related tasks, Bible studies, and conference preparation, that I was feeling pretty tired. But as I saw how hard my Master Jesus was working, how could I stand by and think about some rest? As I sat there in my hotel room, it was as if Jesus’ words were spoken to me newly that now instead of enjoying some vacation, I was motivated to work harder for God. Through this I was reminded of how blessed I am to have my entire life poured out for God this way. I will always be busy, and it seems I just keep getting busier and busier. However, in that situation, it is not the time for me to be thinking about rest or some comfort, because Jesus, my Master, is working hard to this very day, so I too am working.

 

Recently, the senior brothers at Cal State Long Beach have been meeting every week for mission meeting on the campus. This has been a wonderful time for me where I can renew and revitalize my mission life and God’s vision for the campus. There are so many dead people on the campus and Jesus wants his servants to work together with him in bringing his words of life to them. This is why I must be diligent in finding new sheep right now and teaching them the words of God so that they may have a chance to hear Jesus’ word and by responding to it with a believing heart, they may cross over from death to life. I pray that as I pour my life out more and more for God’s redemption work on the campus, I may come to see this amazing miracle of many college students crossing over from death to life.

 

One Word: Those Who Hear Will Live

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