Christ Covenant Church
22 May 2016 / Trinity Sunday (after Pentecost)
Well, good morning. As always it is a joy and a privilege to gather before our Lord together. He is gracious and merciful to bring us to Himself week in and week out. I enjoy whatever book we’re in, but there is something about camping out in a Gospel and getting to see a better and better picture of who Jesus is and what He’s done for us that just seems sweeter.
From time to time I try to listen to sermons from churches around the area just to get a feel for what the people are drinking, and one of the things that sticks out to me is how so many of the pastors almost always call people to believe in Jesus at the end of their sermon, but the entire 35 minute sermon they preached never told the people who this Jesus guy they’re supposed to believe in actually is.
My fear for the church is that people heed the call to believe in Jesus, but because they’re never confronted with the totality of who He is and what He demands, they end up believing in a Jesus of their own imagination, or maybe even the pastors imagination. Over time you see which Jesus this is, and the state of the various churches reveals the Jesus that is being preached.
We talked about the different Jesus’ a few weeks ago in our missional communities, but our story today makes them worth mentioning again.
We mentioned that some people believe in the John Lennon, “All You Need is Love,” Jesus who is not concerned with objective truth.
Others believe in the Zig Ziglar Jesus who motivates you to be a better you.
There’s the nice Mr. Rogers Jesus who just wants us to get along, the homeboy Jesus who just wants to hangout and do whatever,.
This time of year the Bernie Sanders social justice Jesus and the Ronald Reagan, conservative Jesus are in the air. There’s gun loving Jesus and vegan, hipster Jesus, and there’s the Genie Jesus who wants to give you whatever you want if you just believe it and speak it.
There are as many false Jesus’ as there are people, but there is only One True Jesus, and I pray He’s the one you hear here, and He’s the one you trust and obey.
This week we’ll be in John, chapter 5, verses 18-30, so turn there with me in your Bibles and let’s be confronted with the real Jesus.
If you are willing and able, please stand with me for the reading of God’s Word.
If you don’t have a Bible, then please follow along with us in your worship order as we see a group of men who have their false messiah confronted by the real messiah.
I pray our reaction will be different from theirs. Hear God’s Word:
John 5:18-30 ESV
 This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.
 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise.  For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing. And greater works than these will he show him, so that you may marvel.  For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will.  The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son,  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.  Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.
 “Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.  For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself.  And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man.  Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice  and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.
 “I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me.
The Word of the Lord. (Thanks be to God.)
May God bless the reading, hearing and preaching of His Word, and may He grant us all the grace to trust and obey Him. Amen.
If you remember from our story last week, Marq introduced this conflict we see fleshed out today.
Look at verse 18 with me.
 This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.
Jesus had just told these pseudo-Sabbatarians that He was working on the Day of Rest, just like His Father, and this infuriated them.
Marq pointed out something very important for us to remember as we approach this story.
Remember, [the Jews] did not know everything about Jesus that we know. All this was new to them, so their gut-reaction makes sense…
If Jesus made himself equal with God, and he was not God, he was a blasphemer, a heretic, and a false prophet who deserved to die according to the Law (see Deut 13).
But, if Jesus made himself equal with God, and he was God and is God, then he would be the most orthodox Prophet ever, and they would be obligated to heed his word (see Deut 18).
I want us to remember this today as we go through our text:
If Jesus is who He claims to be, then we cannot be neutral in our approach to Him, not today, not ever.
Remember, the Apostle John wrote his book so that you would believe and by believing have life in the name of Jesus. He wrote what he wrote because he didn’t want to leave any doubt in the mind of his hearers about who Jesus claimed to be, and John wanted to force us to choose a side.
My hope is that you will be as amazed as the Jews should have been by this Jesus.
Because these claims are so important, we’ve put them on the back of your worship order so you can think on the claims of Jesus this week. Today we’ll see that Jesus makes at least 5 claims in this short discourse.
Jesus claims He is all-powerful, impeccable, the author and giver of life, the judge of all mankind, and as such, He is worthy of our worship and praise.
Just like you and I today, the Jews were faced with the Lunatic, Liar, Lord paradigm CS Lewis set forth in his book, Mere Christianity where he writes:
I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about [Jesus]: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us, [and] He did not intend to.
That’s the mindset with which we should approach Jesus’s claims.
Look at verse 19 with me, and we’ll see the first of Jesus’ claims in our text today, His claim to total power and sinless perfection.
 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise.
Most of our English versions try to soften this language a bit, but a few get it right. A better way to translate is this:
“Truly, truly I say to you, the Son is not able to do anything of Himself except what He sees the Father doing.”
Now some people see the words “not able” and immediately think Jesus as being less powerful or somehow less than God, and that’s probably why some translators tried to soften the language of inability.
If they understood the doctrine of divine omnipotence and true humanity, they would have seen this softening is unnecessary.
For most of us, we hear the Father/Son language and language about ability, and we think of all the things fathers can do that sons can’t by nature of their age or size or strength, but that’s not what’s going on in this story.
Jesus isn’t talking about some normal, earthly father.
He’s talking about the God of the Universe – the God who brought everything into existence by the word of His power; the God who flooded the earth with His judgment; the God who delivered Israel from slavery in Egypt; the God who does not dwell in houses made by human hands; the God who sustains all of creation at every moment and who promises to reign forever over His people.
This is the Father whom Jesus calls His, and Jesus says He isn’t able to do anything but what His perfect, omnipotent Father does.
No Jew would dream of saying God has any speck of weakness or sin in Himself, and here Jesus is making those same claims. By saying He is unable to do anything except what He sees His Father doing, Jesus is saying He is unable to do anything wrong. He is unable to be anything but all-powerful.
The ability to disobey is not strength – autonomy is weakness.
You and I are unable to do what the Father does because we are less than God. Jesus is unable to do anything but what His Father does because He is equal with God.
You and I are unable to be perfect because we are sinful. Jesus is unable to be sinful because He is perfect.
You and I say things more in line with our culture’s low view of man when we quote guys like Alexander Pope and say, “To err is but human.” But this is not the Bible’s portrayal of the ideal humanity. To sin is not only sub-God, but the ability to sin is sub-human.
Our sin nature and our sin action are departures from the image of God in man, but because Christ was and is the perfect imago Dei, the perfect image bearer, He could not sin.
He is the omnipotent, impeccable, all-powerful, sinless Son of God!
So the first extraordinary claim Jesus makes in our text today is that He is unable to do anything but be perfect, like His Father. He is claiming equality with God.
Can you see how this claim would demand a response from the Jews? This claim demands a response from you as well, but we’re not finished there.
Look at verse 21 and 26 with me, and we’ll look at another of Jesus’ extraordinary claims – the claim to be the possessor and giver of life.
 For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will.
And verse 26
 For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself.
Jesus draws another line in the sand with this claim.
Remember, the Jews believed Moses’ song about Yahweh. Deuteronomy 32:39 says:
(Deuteronomy 32:39 ESV)
“See now that I, even I, am he,
and there is no god beside me;
I kill and I make alive;
I wound and I heal.”
Just before the end of the end of the Jews most precious book, the Torah, God made this declaration about Himself.
He says that in Himself is the power of life and death, and there is no god beside Him. Yet here, in John’s Gospel that is written so you’d believe, Jesus has just made the claim that He has the authority to give life to whomever He wants.
Jesus is saying that He has the power of life in Himself.
Those who would say Jesus never makes a claim to divinity are either ignorant or they are not being intellectually honest.
Imagine the outrage if Marq or I got up here and made this claim for ourselves. If Marq or I said something like that, you wouldn’t be left with the option of tossing it all aside and saying, “That’s okay. They’re still good moral teachers.” You’d be forced to say we are either crazy or we’re false prophets that must be rejected.
We don’t get to look at Jesus’ words here and say anything different. Either He is telling the truth and He’s got the power of life and death in Himself, or He’s crazy, or He’s a false teacher. If the latter are true, and He’s a lunatic or a liar, then we can dismiss Him, but if the former is true, then He’s Lord and He must be worshiped and obeyed. Only God is the possessor and giver of life, and Jesus is making that claim.
This brings us to the next of Jesus’ extraordinary claims. Not only does He claim to be the all-powerful, impeccable author of life, but He’s also making claim to be the judge of the world.
Look at verse 22 and the first half of 23 with me.
 The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son,  that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father.
Jesus isn’t letting up or softening His message to the Jews here. After claiming that He is equal with God, He is sinless, He is all-powerful and He has life in Himself, He is also claiming that He is going to judge the world and He should be worshiped accordingly.
In our Scripture reading before the sermon we see two key figures in ancient Judaism, the Ancient of Days and the one like a Son of Man.
Daniel sees a vision of Yahweh, the Ancient of Days seated on His throne, and he saw one like a son of man to whom was given the power and the authority to rule over all the peoples of the earth.
We’ve already heard Jesus’s claim to be one with the Ancient of Days, but let’s combine this claim with that one. Look at verse 27.
 And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man.
If we combine Daniel’s vision with Jesus statement here and John’s vision in Revelation, we see that Jesus is not just like a son of man, but He is THE Son of Man and the Ancient of Days, simultaneously. The Son of Man was a figure of judgment to the Jews, and this was not lost on Jesus.
Jesus has just declared Himself the Son of God and the Son of Man in one being. He is the Godman, and He demands to be worshiped, by the Jews and by you and me. If we refuse to honor God the Son, then we refuse to honor God the Father, but this isn’t just an intellectual assent to the divinity of Jesus and the knowledge that He is ruler of the earth we’re talking about here.
The Jews had enough consistency to hear the claims of Jesus, reject them and continue living their life the way they had before. So, while we may rightly scoff at their dismissal of Jesus, we would do well to acknowledge that in some ways they’re at least more consistent than some of us.
They reject and refuse to honor Him, but some of us accept His claims intellectually and assent to His authority with our profession, all the while refusing to honor Him in our day-to-day life.
Look at the second half of verse 23 and verses 28-29 with me, and we’ll see how problematic that is.
 …The one who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him.
And verses 28-29
 Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice  and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.
Jesus is saying that He is worthy of worship and honor alongside God the Father, but this isn’t a one-time thing.
This demand of obedience is a continual demand for those under His Authority. The one who does not honor Jesus does not honor the Father, right now. The one who isn’t constantly being confronted with the real Jesus and honoring Him over our false Jesus isn’t honoring God because you don’t trust Him, you only trust your conception of Him.
Now, granted, all any of us can do is trust our conception of Jesus, but what we must always do is adjust our conception of how we think Jesus should be subjectively to how He reveals Himself to be, objectively, in the Bible.
Tim Keller sums this up in his book, The Reason for God, by asking if we have a Stepford God.
“If you don’t trust the Bible enough to let it challenge and correct your thinking, how could you ever have a personal relationship with God? In any truly personal relationship, the other person has to be able to contradict you.”
“Remember the movie, The Stepford Wives? The husbands of Stepford, Connecticut, decide to have their wives turned into robots who never cross the wills of their husbands. A Stepford wife was wonderfully compliant and beautiful, but no one would describe such a marriage as intimate or personal.”
“Now, what happens if you eliminate anything from the Bible that offends your sensibility and crosses your will? If you pick and choose what you want to believe and reject the rest, how will you ever have a God who can contradict you? You won’t! You’ll have a Stepford God! A God, essentially, of your own making, and not a God with whom you can have a relationship and genuine interaction.”
“Only if your God can say things that make you struggle will you know that you have gotten hold of a real God and not a figment of your imagination.”
I’ve watched over the years as so many of you have come to see and worship Jesus in new ways and repent of your old ways, and it has been a joy and a privilege and an encouragement to behold.
I urge you to keep doing so until our Lord returns to make us whole and finally and perfectly correct all of our misconceptions.
But until then, let’s keep asking ourselves and one another these kinds of questions about our relationship to Jesus:
“When is the last time you grew in your understanding of Him and what He wants from you?
When is the last time you said ‘no’ to something you would normally say ‘yes’ to or ‘yes’ to something you would normally say ‘no’ to because that is what Jesus would have you do?
If you’re an extrovert, when is the last time you were quick to listen and slow to speak?
If you’re an introvert, when is the last time you got out of your comfort zone in order to love your neighbor as yourself?
Wives, when is the last time you honored and submitted to your husband, even when you didn’t feel like it, because Jesus calls you to?
Husbands, when is the last time you were gentle and intentional with your wife, washing her with the Word because that is how Christ loved His Church?
Kids, when is the last time you obeyed your parents in the Lord?
When is the last time you’ve forgiven someone when it hurt because the Lord has forgiven you?
When did your invite a sinner over for dinner or change your politics or your taste in television?
When did Jesus impact what you wore or listened to? When is the last time you altered when and where you went out of town?
When did your love for your Lord and His Church require you to give sacrificially of your time and money?
When did he demand that you wake up early to gather with the saints or be inconvenienced by Him?”
If the Son of Man hasn’t done anything of these things, nay if He hasn’t done all of these things and recently, then I ask you:
Do you believe He’s crazy? Do you believe He’s a liar? Because if you believed He was your Lord, He would impact every decision you make and your whole life would be one of repentance.
If you haven’t believed Him at all, if you’re still where the Jews were when they asked the paralytic in verse 12, “Who is this man,” then I urge you to do what the Apostle John desired when recording this story for you.
Believe in this Jesus, that by believing in Him you might have life in His name.
Let’s look at verse 24, the hinge verse, as we close.
 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.
Now as we said, we all have but two options regarding this all-powerful, impeccable, possessor and giver of life and judge of the world: Reject Him or trust Him. Hate Him or Love Him. Refuse Him or obey Him.
If you choose the first of those options, know that you are His enemy.
Rudyard Kipling, probably most known for authoring the short stories that led to the movie, The Jungle Book, wrote a short poem called the Ballad of East and West, where two enemies wind up parting ways peacefully because of their respect for one another. One even pledges his son to his former enemy as a sign of goodwill.
The opening and closing refrain of the poem are the same:
“Oh, East is East and West is West, and ne’er the twain shall meet,
Till Earth and Sky stand presently at God’s great Judgment Seat;
You who don’t believe know in your heart of hearts you have rebelled against this great Lord Jesus, and you are His enemy, but I warn you, this is no Kipling poem.
Yes, East is east and west is west, but one day the twain s.hall meet.
On that day earth and sky will stand at the Judgment Seat
You will be there and so will Jesus. You will be face to face, but He will not, as Kipling’s characters did, part ways peacefully due to your mutual respect for one another.
He will ask the question of you that the Jews asked of Him, “Who is this man?”
If you say He’s a lunatic, a liar, or even a great moral teacher, you will be subject to eternal judgment for your conscious rebellion and refusal to trust this Great King.
But, if you recognize, that as the man in the poem did, God the Father pledged His Son to you, His enemy, not because of His respect for you, but because He loves you.
And if you say this Beloved Son is your wonderful Lord, the Godman who lived and died and rose again for you, then neither east nor west, border nor breed nor birth will separate you from the Love of God in Christ Jesus, and you will not come into judgment, but you will pass from death to life.
Just this morning, we heard from the mouths of babes that God so loved the world that He sent His one and only Son that whosever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life, and this morning I pray you heed those wise words from their gentle mouths because Jesus is coming back again, not as the John Lennon or Mr. Rogers Jesus, but as the Warrior Lord, as the Son of Man, to enact Justice on the World.
Believe in this Jesus. Trust this Jesus. Obey this Jesus, so that you might have life in His name.
Let’s pray together.