John 5: 24-30
24 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life. 25 Truly, truly, I say to you, an 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 just as the Father has life in Himself, even so He gave to the Son also to have life in Himself; 27 and He gave Him authority to execute judgment, because He is the Son of Man. 28 Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, 29 and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment. 30 “I can do nothing on My own initiative. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.
This is getting deep, isn’t it? The first thing that stuck out to me in this part of Jesus’ soliloquy is that it can be seen as a contradiction that He calls Himself “The Son of God” and “The Son of Man”. In fact, it happens a lot throughout the bible. What gives? It’s not a contradiction, it is that he is both. If we look back at the virgin birth, He was birthed as a man. He didn’t just drop down on earth, but rather His form was that of human. He is also fully God, as we see in discussing the Triune God. These terms are interchangeable when referring to Jesus. A son of man was born in the flesh, a son of God was purely born from God (angels, for instance). So then, since Jesus is fully God and fully man, it only makes sense that he is referred to as both.
As we remember, yesterday we saw that Jesus gives life, He goes into more depth as He continues his speech. Previously, He hinted at the fact that His relationship with God is that of father and son. Now, let’s think about the times here. Back then, when royalty, kingship, etc. was in full swing, the royal family was all considered of the same stature. The son of the king, specifically the first born, was known as the heir to the throne. As such, this son was likened to the same status as the father. Likewise, Jesus claims to have this same relationship with God, likening Him to God, as the heir to the throne. This is why He has the authority over judgment. Because of this authority, He is able to rule for or against. We read yesterday in verse 23 exactly what decides our judgment, “23 so that all will honor the Son even as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.”
Now for the kicker. God is just. The rule is set, those that love and honor God will believe in the Son, those who do not are not forgiven of their evil deeds and are therefore judged. I think it is easy to misconstrue verse 29 to mean that we must “do good” to earn salvation. We must recognize, however, that as Romans 3 reminds us, “23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” and it is only through His love, grace, and mercy that we are no longer seen by Him as one who has committed evil deeds, but one who is blameless. Isaiah foretold this in anticipation of the coming of Christ, Isaiah 1:18, “ 18 “Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the LORD, “Though your sins are as scarlet, They will be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They will be like wool.”
We discussed yesterday the burden of sin and Jesus’ yoke being light and easy. We have the option of ridding ourselves of this burden, of this crimson stain. Don’t you want to be made new? I think too often we look at passages like this and think we are to be scared into the kingdom. We shouldn’t believe in Christ because of what will happen if we don’t, but rather the freedom we experience when we do!