John 5:24-29

Sunday Morning Bible Study

December 27, 2009


We’ve been following the life of Jesus through John’s gospel.

John’s gospel is a little different from the other gospels.  He wrote about 30 years later and had the advantage of time to look back at the other stories and fill in some of the blanks – to give us a little clearer picture of just who Jesus was.

In John 5, Jesus found a man at the pool of Bethesda in Jerusalem, a man who had been sick for 38 years.

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Do people see Jesus? Is the gospel preached? Does it speak to the broken hearted? Does it build up the church? Milk – Meat – Manna Preach for a decision

:24-30 Life and Judgment

:24  "Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.

:24 Most assuredly – the Greek is “amen, amen”, or “truly, truly”

More than twenty times in John’s gospel Jesus begins a statement in this way.

It’s as if Jesus is saying, “Pay attention to what I’m about to say!  This is very, very important!”

Jesus will even say this again in verse 25 (“most assuredly”).

:24 has everlasting life – present tense.  It’s not “will have”, but “has right now”

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 has passedmetabaino – to pass over from one place to another, to remove, depart

Perfect tense – it happened in the past and the results continue into the present.



There are some groups that teach that we can’t really know for sure about salvation until after we die.
Jesus says something different.
No need to wonder.  God wants you to know for sure.  God wants you to know now.  In fact, eternal life starts NOW.
There are a couple of things that will help you know for sure.
1.  Believe

John wrote,

(1 John 5:11-13 NKJV)  And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. {12} He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. {13} These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.

This is what Jesus is saying.  You must believe.  If you believe, you have eternal life.

Do you believe in the Son of God?  Do you believe He died for your sins?

2.  Love

John used the same phrase in one of his letters that Jesus used here.  It’s the only other time that this phrase “passed from death to life” is used.  It’s also used in connection with assurance of salvation.

(1 John 3:14 NKJV)  We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death.

One way of knowing that you are saved is the love God puts in your heart for other believers.

Why is it important that we be “sure” that we are saved?
Because there is one thing that we will all have to face some day – death.
Tony Campolo writes:
I went to my first black funeral when I was 16 years old. A friend of mine, Clarence, had died. The pastor was incredible. From the pulpit he talked about the Resurrection in beautiful terms. He had us thrilled. He came down from the pulpit, went to the family, and comforted them from the fourteenth chapter of John. “Let not your heart be troubled,” he said, “’You believe in God, believe also in me,’ said Jesus. Clarence has gone to heavenly mansions.”
Then, for the last 20 minutes of the sermon, he actually preached to the open casket. Now, that’s drama! He yelled at the corpse: “Clarence! Clarence!” He said it with such authority. I would not have been surprised had there been an answer. He said, “Clarence, there were a lot of things we should have said to you that we never said to you. You got away too fast, Clarence. You got away too fast.” He went down this litany of beautiful things that Clarence had done for people. When he finished—here’s the dramatic part—he said, “That’s it, Clarence. There’s nothing more to say. When there’s nothing more to say, there’s only one thing to say. Good night. Good night, Clarence!” He grabbed the lid of the casket and slammed it shut. “Good night, Clarence!” Boom!
Shock waves went over the congregation. As the preacher then lifted his head, you could see there was this smile on his face. He said, “Good night, Clarence. Good night, Clarence, because I know, I know that God is going to give you a good morning!” The choir stood and starting singing, “On that great morning, we shall rise, we shall rise.” We were dancing in the aisles and hugging each other. I knew the joy of the Lord, a joy that in the face of death laughs and sings and dances, for there is no sting to death.

Tony Campolo, in the sermon "The Year of Jubilee,"

I’ve been to more funerals than I care to think about.
But one thing I’ve learned from funerals – you better be sure about heaven BEFORE you die.

After you die, it’s too late.

But if you are sure BEFORE you die, it’s a glorious thing.
The Empty Chair
A man’s daughter had asked the pastor to come and pray with her father. When the pastor arrived, he found the man lying in bed with his head propped up on two pillows and an empty chair beside his bed. The pastor assumed that the old fellow had been informed of his visit. “I guess you were expecting me,” he said. “No, who are you?” “I’m the new pastor at your daughters church,” the man replied. “When I saw the empty chair, I figured you knew I was going to show up.” “Oh yeah, the chair,” said the bedridden man. “Would you mind closing the door?”
Puzzled, the pastor shut the door. “I’ve never told anyone this, not even my daughter,” said the man. “But all of my life I have never known how to pray. At church on Sunday’s occasionally I used to hear the pastor talk about prayer, but it always went right over my head..” “I abandoned any attempt at prayer,” the old man continued, “until one day about four years ago my best friend said to me, ‘Joe, prayer is just a simple matter of having a conversation with Jesus. Here’s what I suggest. Sit down on a chair, place an empty chair in front of you, and in faith see Jesus on the chair. It’s not spooky because he promised, ‘I’ll be with you always.’ Then just speak to him and listen in the same way you’re doing with me right now.” “So I tried it and I’ve liked it so much that I do it a couple of hours every day. I’m careful, though. If my daughter saw me talking to an empty chair, she’d either have a nervous breakdown or send me off to the funny farm.”
The pastor was deeply moved by the story and encouraged the old guy to continue on the journey. Then he shared the good news about heaven being a free gift and prayed with the man to make his relationship personal with the Lord even more.
Two nights later the daughter called to tell the pastor that her daddy had died that afternoon. “Did he seem to die in peace?” he asked. “Yes, when I left the house around two o’clock, he called me over to his bedside, told me one of his corny jokes, and kissed me on the cheek. When I got back from the store an hour later, I found him dead. But there was something strange. In fact, beyond strange—kinda weird. Apparently, just before Daddy died, he leaned over and rested his head on a chair beside the bed.”

:25 "Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live.

:25 those who hear will live

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

He is talking about people who were “spiritually dead”, people who are separated from God.

(Rom 6:23 NKJV)  For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Paul describes us prior to believing as being “dead”:
(Col 2:13 NLT)  You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ. He forgave all our sins.

How could a “dead” person ever come to know God if they are “dead”?

By hearing the “voice of the Son of God”.
That’s what happens when we share the good news of Jesus with another person.
A man was driving along the highway, and saw a rabbit hopping across the middle of the road. He swerved to avoid hitting the rabbit, but unfortunately the rabbit jumped in front of the car and was hit. The driver, being a sensitive man as well as an animal lover, pulled over to the side of the road, and got out to see what had become of the rabbit. Much to his dismay, the rabbit was dead. The driver felt so awful, he began to cry. A woman driving down the highway saw the man crying on the side of the road and pulled over. She stepped out of her car and asked the man what was wrong. “I feel terrible,” he explained, “I accidentally hit this rabbit and killed it.” The woman told the man not to worry. She knew what to do. She went to her car trunk, and pulled out a spray can. She walked over to the limp, dead rabbit, and sprayed the contents of the can onto the rabbit. Miraculously the rabbit came to life, jumped up, waved its paw at the two humans and hopped down the road. 50 yards away the rabbit stopped, turned around, waved and hopped down the road, another 50 yards, turned, waved and hopped another 50 yards. The man was astonished. He couldn’t figure out what substance could be in the woman’s spray can!! He ran over to the woman and asked, “What is in your spray can? What did you spray on that rabbit?” The woman turned the can around so that the man could read the label. It said: “Hair spray. Restores life to dead hair. Adds permanent wave.”
We have something WAY better than “hair spray”.  We have the power of God.
Paul wrote,

(Rom 1:16 NKJV)  For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.

When a person begins to hear that God loves them and that God wants to forgive them and save them from their sins, something begins to come alive.

:26 "For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself,

:26 lifezoe – life; of the absolute fullness of life

This is a quality of about God, that He has “life”.  He is known throughout the Old Testament as the “living God”:

(Deu 5:26 NKJV)  'For who is there of all flesh who has heard the voice of the living God speaking from the midst of the fire, as we have, and lived?
(1 Sam 17:26 NKJV)  Then David spoke to the men who stood by him, saying, "What shall be done for the man who kills this Philistine and takes away the reproach from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?"
(Psa 42:2 NKJV)  My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?

Jesus too has life.

(John 1:4 NKJV)  In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.

Again, Jesus is getting awfully close to this claim of deity.

Jesus isn’t trying to explain away the Jews’ concerns about Him claiming to be God, He is only reinforcing it.

:27 "and has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man.

:27 the Son of Man

This may refer to Jesus’ humanity.  He was fully God and fully human.

Perhaps this is speaking of Jesus’ right to judge humanity because He too was human.  He understands us, He understands what we go through.

This may be a hint again at Jesus claiming to be the Messiah.   This comes from an obscure passage in the book of Daniel where the Messiah is standing before God and being given the right to rule over the world:

(Dan 7:13-14 NKJV)  "I was watching in the night visions, And behold, One like the Son of Man, Coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, And they brought Him near before Him. {14} Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, That all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, Which shall not pass away, And His kingdom the one Which shall not be destroyed.
Jesus is claiming to be this One – the one who will rule.

:28 "Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice

:28 gravesmnemeion – any visible object for preserving or recalling the memory of any person or thing; a sepulcher, a tomb

Now Jesus is talking about a different kind of “dead” person.  One who has actually, physically died and been buried.

Jesus not only can give spiritual “life” to those who believe, but He can give actual physical life to those who have been dead and buried.

:29 "and come forth; those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.

:29 resurrectionanastasis (“again” + “stand”) – a raising up, rising (e.g. from a seat); a rising from the dead

This is not a new concept with Jesus.  The Old Testament also teaches that there would be resurrections when dead people would come back to life:

(Dan 12:1-2 NKJV)  "At that time Michael shall stand up, The great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people; And there shall be a time of trouble, Such as never was since there was a nation, Even to that time. And at that time your people shall be delivered, Every one who is found written in the book. {2} And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, Some to everlasting life, Some to shame and everlasting contempt.

:29 done good … done evil – does this mean that we are saved by doing good works?  I thought we were saved by faith?

Keep in mind that Jesus has just said (in vs. 24) that it is belief in Him that makes a person be removed from judgment and condemnation.

(John 3:36 NKJV)  "He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him."

It’s the person who doesn’t believe in Jesus that will be judged by their deeds.

The problem is that they will find that their deeds are not good enough.


What happens at death?

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, not the spirit.

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

The person’s spirit goes to one of two places:

For the unbeliever, they go to a place called “Hades”.

(Luke 16:22-24 NKJV)  "So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham's bosom. The rich man also died and was buried. {23} "And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. {24} "Then he cried and said, 'Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.'

For the believer, the spirit goes immediately into the presence of the Lord, in heaven.

(Phil 1:23 NKJV)  For I am hard pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better.

(2 Cor 5:8 NKJV)  We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.

I believe that this means that a person’s spirit will be in heaven, but not their body.  That comes later.


Three resurrections

Jesus simplifies the resurrections to just two:  the good and the bad.  It also sounds like they happen at the same time.  But as we study the Bible, we find out that there are three separate events that are coming up.
I remember watching “Let’s Make a Deal” with Monty Hall when I was a kid.  Do you remember the end of each show when the contestant had to choose what was behind “Door #1” or “Door #2” or “Door #3”?  We aren’t talking about doors here, but resurrections.  But you have a choice of which one you’re going to get.  And best yet, God gives you a peek behind each door.
1.  The Rapture
At this event known as the rapture, two kinds of people will receive new, physical, glorified bodies.

Those that have already died will receive a new body that will join with their spirit.

Those of us alive at the time will also get a new body.

(1 Th 4:16-17 NKJV)  For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. {17} Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.

2.  Tribulation Saints
After the Rapture, there will be a difficult period of time on this earth known as the “Tribulation”.  During that time there will be people who come to know the Lord, but they will suffer great persecution and many of them will be martyred.
These people will receive their new bodies at the end of the Tribulation.

(Rev 20:4 NKJV)  And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.

This next period of 1,000 years is called the “Millennium” (not the Millennium Falcon), when Jesus rules this earth.

3.  Unbelievers
Unbelievers will receive a new body as well.  Their body will not be made to enjoy the pleasures of heaven forever, but to endure the pain of hell forever.
This will take place after the Millennium during what is called the “Great White Throne” judgment.

(Rev 20:11-15 NKJV)  Then I saw a great white throne and Him who 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, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. {13} The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. {14} Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. {15} And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.

Remember “Let’s Make a Deal”?  Sounds pretty tame right now…You still have a choice of which door you are going to choose.  Want Door #1?  I hope you do.
How can you make it through Door #1?  You need to believe in Jesus.

You need to trust Him to pay for your sins.