John 5:17-29

Sunday Morning Bible Study

September 24, 1995


Jesus was in Jerusalem for one of the Jewish ritual feasts.

While there, He stopped by a pool called Bethesda, where He met a man who had been sick for 38 years.

Jesus healed the man.

But He happened to do it on the Sabbath, which got Him into trouble.

Now Jesus has to explain why He did something against the Jews' traditions, such as breaking their Sabbath rules.

In explaining His actions, we're going to find out a lot about just who Jesus really is, or at least, who He claimed to be.

:17-18 Equal to God

:17 My Father worketh hitherto, and I work

Jesus is going to answer their charges of breaking the Sabbath Law.

Watch His reasoning!

What's Jesus talking about? Who is "My Father"?

Was Joseph the carpenter a workoholic?

He's talking about God being His Father.

And if God ever took a day off, would we ever be in trouble!

Jesus is claiming that He is God's Son.

And He's not just doing it in a way as if to say, "Well, we're all kind of children of God, you know, the family of God...".

This is not like the New Age concept that "we are all equal with God", or that, "we are all gods" (a la Shirley Maclaine).

Jesus is directly claiming that He is THE Son, not just an ordinary kind of guy.

He's claiming to be different from ordinary men.

He's going to claim to be the kind of God that should be worshipped and adored.

How do I know all this? (Well, I've read the passage ...)

Just watch what the Jews do with this.

Just watch how Jesus responds to their reaction.

It will prove that Jesus is claiming to be God!

:18 making himself equal with God

Keep in mind, this doesn't prove anything about whether or not Jesus is God, because this is simply the point of views that the Jews had.

They are saying that Jesus is claiming to be equal with the One who alone is God.

They are saying that Jesus is claiming to be equal with the Almighty Himself.

The seriousness of their interpretation is shown by the fact that they want to kill Jesus for this.

We're not talking about a disagreement over words, they actually believe that Jesus is making Himself equal with God.

And to a serious Jew, that's pretty bad!

Exodus 20:3-AV Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

Isaiah 45:5-AV I [am] the LORD, and [there is] none else, [there is] no God beside me: I girded thee, though thou hast not known me:

:19-29 Jesus' Authority

:19 Then answered Jesus ... Verily, verily, I say ...

The Jews have just accused Jesus of making Himself equal with God.

And as a result, they are now seeking to kill Jesus.

If Jesus didn't intend to be understood as making Himself equal with God, this is the time to speak up about it!

But Jesus doesn't deny their accusations.

Instead, He just goes on with the idea.

:19 The Son can do nothing ... but what he seeth

He has said that the reason that He has been doing "work" on the Sabbath is that since God doesn't stop working, the Son doesn't either.

Now He continues the argument by again stressing that He's just doing what His Father does.

"Like Father, like Son."

:20 greater works

They've been witness to Jesus healing a man who had been sick for 38 years.

But they haven't seen nothin' yet. Just wait!

Jesus is going to give a hint at some of the greater works - like in verse 21 ...

:21 as the Father raiseth up the dead

God says of Himself:

Deuteronomy 32:39-AV See now that I, [even] I, [am] he, and [there is] no god with me: I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal: neither [is there any] that can deliver out of my hand.

In the Old Testament, God used various prophets to raise the dead (here, Elisha):

2Kings 4:34-AV And he went up, and lay upon the child, and put his mouth upon his mouth, and his eyes upon his eyes, and his hands upon his hands: and he stretched himself upon the child; and the flesh of the child waxed warm.

:21 quickeneth

zoopoieo - to cause to live, make alive, give life

It can mean to give physical life, or spiritual life.

:21 even so the Son quickeneth whom he will

As God raises people from the dead, so the Son will raise people from the dead.

Some of the greater works that Jesus will be doing will involved raising people from the dead.

In fact we'll have a few examples of it in Jesus' miracles.

He will raise Jairus' daughter (Mark 5:42)

He will raise the widow's son at Nain (Luke 7:15)

He will raise Lazarus from the dead (John 11)

He will raise our mortal bodies from the dead (1Thess.4:16)

:22 hath committed all judgement unto the Son

Jesus is now equating the raising of the dead with judgement.

We'll see this in a few minutes in some other Scriptures.

Judgment - krisis - a separating ... judgment, sentence of condemnation, damnatory judgment, condemnation and punishment.

Circle the places it's found -

In the passage we're studying today, it's translated (in KJV) as "judgment" (vs.22,27,30), "condemnation" (vs.24), and "damnation" (vs.29).

In our passage in particular, the word seems to carry a lot of the flavor of the negative in it - the condemnation and damnation.


Judgment is God's duty as our Creator.

Yesterday I was reading all about God's judgment of mankind in the book of Job, where it says,

Job 34:19-AV ...for they all [are] the work of his hands.

Because we are all God's creation, we will one day stand before Him and have to answer to Him for our lives.

Even those who try to argue that there is no Creator.

That's what's so deceiving about the myth of evolution.

It relieves man of his sense of accountability to his Creator, because man is just a product of chance random mutation. There is no one to report to at the end of the day.

Does it sound like Jesus is trying to back off from claiming to be equal with God?

He's claiming that He's going to be doing God's job of judging.

hath committed - the verb is in the "perfect" tense - meaning that the action happened in the past, but the results still continue on into the present time.

Jesus wasn't just handed the job of judgment for a short 2 hour period.

He still has the job.


Jesus is the one before whom you will stand one day.


It's as if Judge Lance Ito stepped down, and turned things over in the courtroom to his son (if he has a son).

It might be a good idea to get to know what this judge is like, and what His standards are.

Acts 17:30-31 AV And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: 31 Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by [that] man whom he hath ordained; [whereof] he hath given assurance unto all [men], in that he hath raised him from the dead.

:23 That all men should honour the Son ...

The reason that God has given all judgment into the hand of the Son, is so that they will honor Jesus.

If you stand before a judge, accused of a crime, unless you're a fool, you'll give the judge some respect.

After all, he has the power to convict you and sentence you, or he has the power to set you free.

God wants you to give honor to Jesus.

:23 honour the Son, even as they honour the Father

honour - timao - to estimate, fix the value; to honour, to have in honour, to revere, venerate

(Timotheos - Timothy = "honouring God")

Jesus is saying that the same value that men place on God the Father, is the same value they should place on Himself.

Keep in mind, Jesus is talking to the Jews, who have questioned Him about His Sabbath healing practices.

The Jews are fiercely mono-theistic.

Only God, only Yahweh, deserves glory and honor.

Is this the talk of someone who was just "a nice guy"?

This is the talk of someone who is either:

1. A liar.

He isn't God. He knows it. But He's lying about it.

2. A lunatic.

He isn't God. But He thinks He is.

3. Or, Lord.

He's exactly what He claims to be, God.

There is no other choice.

Are you willing to say that Jesus was a liar?

Are you willing to call Him a lunatic?

Then what are you left with?

If He indeed is Lord, then you must learn to honor Him, just as you should be honoring God.

You must learn to do what He requires of you.

Because He will one day judge you.

:24 heareth my word ... believeth on him ... everlasting life

Everlasting life is very simple to receive.

You simply have to hear what Jesus is saying here, and believe in what the Father has done in sending Jesus.

It's believing that God's plan for taking care of man's sins came in the package of Jesus Christ.

:24 shall not come into condemnation

krisis - judgment, damnation

Every person must stand trial for their life, for their sins.

And the penalty for sin is death.

Romans 6:23-AV For the wages of sin [is] death; but the gift of God [is] eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

And the kind of death here is not just ordinary physical death, but spiritual death, spiritual separation from God.

When Jesus came to earth, He came with a mission - to die on the cross, and thus take our place, paying for our sins.

You can pay for your sins on your own if you want to, but it would mean eternal death - hell.

When we believe in Jesus, we believe that He has paid our sins, and we receive that payment of our sins.

It's kind of like transferring money from God's checking account into your checking account, to pay for that big mortgage payment at the end of the month.

With your sins paid for, there is no condemnation.

Your statement at the end of your life reads, "Account paid in full".

:25 the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God

Jesus isn't talking about a physical resurrection that will take place in the last days. He'll talk about that a little later.

Jesus is talking about a spiritual resurrection that takes place in those who believe in Him now.

In the previous verse, He has just said that those who believe in Him pass from a state of death into a state of life (vs.24).

And now in this verse, He says that "the hour is coming and now is" when the dead hear His voice and live.


Without Jesus, we are living in a state of death.

Ephesians 2:1 NAS And you were dead in your trespasses and sins,

Ephesians 2:5 NAS even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),

Colossians 2:13-AV And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;

What does this mean, practically?

It means that when it comes to our ability to communicate with God and to relate to him, we're as good as dead men.


It would be as if I told you that I've decided to explore my own heritage a little, and have decided that a good place to start would be by getting to know my grandfather better.

So I call him up on the telephone.

No answer.

I try again.

No answer.

I begin to wonder, "How come my grandfather hasn't sent me a Christmas present for a long time?" "Is there something wrong?"

There is. My grandfather has been dead for 33 years.

I'm not going to be able to get to know him by talking to him.


When a flippant youth heard an Indian evangelist preach, he interrupted him by saying, "You tell me about the burden of sin. I feel none. How heavy is it? Eighty pounds? Ten pounds?"

The preacher answered, "Tell me, if you laid four hundred pounds weight on a corpse, would it feel the load?"

"No, because it is dead," replied the youth.

The preacher said, "That spirit, too, is dead which feels no load of sin."

If those without Jesus are absolutely dead to God, then how can they ever get to know God?

Answer: By hearing the gospel!

Our verse: "the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live".

The gospel is the words of Jesus, it's the message of life that He brings.

Romans 1:16-AV For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.

When people hear God's message of salvation, it has an amazing ability to give them life, to give them the ability to be able to respond to God.


Tell people about Jesus!

When we share with people about how God loves them and wants them to get to know Him, and that God will pay the price for their sins and forgive them, something wonderful happens in them.

The Word of God begins to spark life into their dead spirit, and the possibility for them to know God starts to happen.


It's kind of like taking a parking lot and turning it into a strawberry field.

The initial sharing of the gospel is like taking a jack hammer to the asphalt, and breaking it up.

Then you begin to sow seeds into their life.

If they're good soil, they will bear fruit.

If they're bad soil, you'll see nothing but weeds.

Paul writes:

1Corinthians 1:18 AV For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.


Take the opportunity before you to know Jesus.

Some of you may not have come to the point in your life where you have asked Jesus to come into your life and be your Savior.

You haven't asked to receive His free gift of eternal life, where He takes all your yucky sins, and pays the price for them with His own death on the cross.

But some of this is beginning to make sense, the parking lot is breaking up a little bit.

You are faced with a choice of what you're going to do with this window of opportunity.

Will you take this opportunity that God is giving you, finally breaking through enough to get the message across that He loves you?


It's kind of like those episodes on Star Trek where the captain and Mr. Spock are down on some planet's surface, and their communication has been cut off from the Enterprise.

Finally they are able to break through the planet's shield, and Scotty is just waiting for the captain to say, "Beam me up".

But if he waits too long, he may lose his opportunity.

:26 life in himself

zoe - life; of the absolute fulness of life

This is the root of the word that was translated "quickeneth" in verse 21.

Jesus gives us life, because He has lots to give.


It's like we're dead on the road, sitting in our cars, completely out of gas, out in the middle of nowhere.

And a huge tank truck pulls up out of nowhere, and fills up our tank.

:27 because He is the Son of man

Jesus is not only the Son of God, having God's nature, but He is also the Son of man, having a human nature as well.

This gives Jesus the perfect ability to be our judge, because He knows what it's like being human.

Nobody will be able to say, "Well you're God, you don't know what it's like being human."

:28-29 all that are in the graves shall hear his voice

This is still yet future - it is coming ...


1. Where are the dead? Are they lying in their graves?

When a person dies, their spirit leaves their body.

The body is buried in the grave.

Often, the Bible refers to death as "the grave", because of the location of the physical body.

But the Spirit goes to one of two places:

For the unbeliever, they go to a place called "Hades" (Luke 16:22-23).

For the believer, they go immediately into the presence of the Lord, in heaven.

Philippians 1:23-AV For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better:

2Corinthians 5:8-AV We are confident, [I say], and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.

But both are in a spiritual state, without a body.

When the resurrection occurs, a new body will be formed, and the person's spirit will again be clothed with a body.

2. When does this occur?

Jesus is speaking in general terms here, and it looks as if this all takes place at one time.

But in the actual working out of things, there will be several resurrections.

1. There will be a resurrection at the Rapture of the Church.

1Thessalonians 4:16-17 AV For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17 Then we which are alive [and] remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

2. There will be another resurrection after the Tribulation, of those who died martyrs' deaths during the Tribulation:

Revelation 20:4-AV And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and [I saw] the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received [his] mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.

3. There will be a final resurrection of all the unbelievers at the end of the Millenium.

Revelation 20:11-15 AV And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. 12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is [the book] of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. 13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. 14 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. 15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

:29 resurrection of life ... resurrection of damnation

Everybody is included here.


Everyone already has eternal life

The truth is, every human being already has eternal life.

We are all spiritual beings, and our spirits were designed to last forever.

But there are two kinds of eternal life.

There is eternal life in heaven for the believer.

Revelation 21:4-AV And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.

And there is the eternal life for the unbeliever.

Revelation 21:8-AV But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.

Matthew 22:13-AV there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Which do you choose?

It's all based on what you do with Jesus.

So, how do I avoid hell?

On the surface, it looks as if just being good is all that it takes.

But if you're spiritually dead, you aren't going to be doing much good.

damnation - (krisis) - this is the same word that was used in verse 24, and translated as "condemnation".

John 5:24-AV Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.

It all gets back to believing in Jesus.

Listen to His words.

Let them spark life in you.

Put your trust in Jesus - trust that He will indeed pay the price for your sins and provide you with God's forgiveness.

Ask Jesus to come and be a part of your life.