As we read today’s scripture lesson, John 5:16-30, may God deepen your readiness in celebrating His birth. We are going to learn, from Jesus Himself, who He is. As He goes about in His ministry, we see that He irritates the Jewish leaders. So much so that they want to kill Him! In my Bible, it says they harassed Him in verse 16. Does your translation read differently?
INSIGHT: Isn’t it something, that Jesus can stop the world for 24 hours? Christmas is celebrated world-wide. Our calendar of time is even determined by His birth.
Jesus speaks to the Jewish leaders to help them see who He is but their preconceived ideas and ways keeps them from seeing truth. Jesus kept breaking their religious laws and their anger grew because of it. They did not want to change from what they knew.
During this time, it is good to remember that the Jewish leaders were following the Old Testament way of religion. It was rich in outward tradition and holiness for God. But now, Jesus came on the scene and proclaimed to be God Himself! He was the catalyst for the New Testament, a new way of following God. And this new way of living revealed the true colors of these spiritual leaders. You could say they were digging their heels in from wanting to see another way of loving God. People were following Jesus instead of them. They probably felt like their jobs were in jeopardy.
QUESTION: Jesus is calling you. He wants you to follow Him. Where in your life are you so comfortable, so self-confident, that you are digging your heels in? Are there things in your life or ways of doing things that you are not willing to change from?
One would think Jesus would dish out the same treatment that was given to Him. But when you are The Way, The Truth and The Life (see John 14:6), you don’t. His way is love. His way is serving. His way is doing what the Father tells Him. In verse 17 Jesus tells the Jewish leaders, “My Father is always working and so am I.” He continues revealing the relationship that He has with His Father.
Let’s see what we learn in verses 19-23. Jesus states that He cannot do anything on His own. He lives out what He sees God doing.
INSIGHT: We are to be connected to Jesus in all things. We live our lives where we parallel the truths of the Bible and we allow the Holy Spirit to lead us. This means we are to learn how to hear, to hear God.
Jesus states the Father shows Him everything He is doing. Isn’t this heart-warming, that the Creator of the universe cares enough about you and me to share everything with us? Because of Jesus, God makes Himself available to each of us through a relationship. Our job? Seek, listen to hear and then turn and follow. Then we are ready for great works.
Jesus continues with how He give life to anyone He wants. He has been given absolute authority to judge. And we are to honor Him. Absolute is a word that is not popular in our culture anymore. The meaning of it is something that is regarded as universally true, like good and bad or right and wrong. The enemy is wearing us down with so many distractions and empty activities that we can’t see anymore. We are walking around blind and numb, just going through the motions and forgetting that there are absolutes.
QUESTION: How can you combat blindness? What does God need to shake up in your life so you begin to feel again? What went through your mind when you read that question? Whatever you thought about is probably what needs to go or change. God wants you to be alive in Christ.
Continue on and study verses 24-30. Notice what Jesus says in verse 24. “I tell you the truth.” Until we really believe that Jesus is who He says He is, we will struggle in our faith. We will fumble around like the Jewish leaders. We will remain stagnant in religion. We will dig our heels in to change. And we will miss out on the greatest love ever.
INSIGHT: It is imperative that we seek to find. Our flesh is bent towards opposition to God. We must fight our way to Him. Like oil and water, sin and Jesus do not mix.
QUESTION: From verse 24, what are the two prerequisites that Jesus is looking for from us and what is the result? Realizing we will not be condemned and receiving the golden pass into heaven should be enough for us to change our ways. Remember absolutes? It’s about heaven or hell.
Jesus assures us, the time is now for the dead, those in their flesh living how they want to, to hear His voice. We only have the present, so what are you waiting for?
QUESTION: What is the key phrase at the end of verse 25? Will you listen?
Jesus is full of life-giving power and He has the authority to judge us all. In Christ, we can rise up from our dead selves and hear His voice. He makes us new and in this newness we are to do good. Unfortunately, our enemy loves to twist truth around. Do good and that will lead you to heaven. Scripture does not say this. Our response to what Christ did for us needs to come first and then He leads us into good deeds. The Holy Spirit will lead you accordingly. We are to submit and obey to what He wants us to do. It’s not about fitting God into who we are.
INSIGHT: If we would follow Jesus and obey how He leads, we would live united in love.
Jesus ends this part of scripture in verse 30 with a challenge for us, “I can do nothing on my own.” Life is about God’s will being carried out. The question is, are we willing to join in like Christ did with His Father? Are we willing to carry His torch of love to others and help God’s will to move forward effortlessly? May this Christmas cause a stirring in our hearts to fully jump in and say, “Yes Lord, use me!”