Who Is Jesus
Tim Temple

Introduction

From time to time, we hear about a situation in which a person commits a crime or does some very unexpected thing, and his family or his friends say, “You know, I guess I never really knew him like I thought I did.” There is a sense in which that is normal. There is a sense in which none of us can really know another person. I Corinthians, chapter 2, verse 11, says:

I Corinthians 2

11For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him?…

It goes on to say that even though we cannot really know what is going on in the heart and mind of another human being, we can know what is going on in God's heart and mind because God has given us His Spirit. We don't have the spirit of another human being, but God has given us His Spirit. The amazing thing is that there is a sense in which we can know God better than we can know other human beings.

The thing that we are talking about in this lesson is how well we know another person. There is one Person whom most, if not all, of us here know, but I wonder if we really know Him like we think we do. That person is the Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord Jesus Christ was one of the most well-known people who ever lived on this earth, and rightly so. It is easy for those of us who spend some of our time in worship and study of the Bible to overlook some of the things that we should know about Him. The passage that we come to in this study is one of the clearest places where this kind of information about Jesus Christ is given.

Review

By way of review, remember the overview of this chapter. In verses 1-15, we saw the display of divine power, and that was where Jesus healed the man at the pool of Bethesda. The second part of the chapter, and by far the longest part of the chapter, is the discussion of divine principles in verses 16-47. He answers the objections of the Jewish leaders about having done that healing on the Sabbath. It was a ridiculous objection. Here was something that was very obviously the power of God, and these religious leaders were all upset because it took place on the Sabbath.

Of course, they were not genuinely upset; they were just looking for some reason to reject the Lord Jesus. In answer to their anger, Jesus gives an analysis of the Jews' angry reaction to the statement of equality with the Father, which He made in verse 17. Basically, when the Jews asked Him why He had done this, He said, “My Father has been working until now, and I will still work.” Here He obviously claimed to be one with God, and in the rest of the chapter, He analyzes the Jews' objection and shows them, if they were willing to accept it, that He and His Father are one.

He had talked about the relationship between the Father and the Son in verses 19-20, and then He started a discussion about the reciprocation between the Father and the Son, which we will be looking at in this lesson. In this section, He talks about the things that the Father and Son have in common and the things that they share in equally.

We ended our last study with a summary of the things which God the Father and God the Son participate in equally, in verses 21-23. Now we come to verse 24, where the specifics are given.

The Father and the Son Both Give Life

The first specific thing in which the Father and the Son share equally is the fact that they both give life. We find that recorded in verses 24-29. Look at verse 24:

John 5

24Verily, 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.
25Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live.
26For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself;
27And hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man.
28Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice,
29And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.

I want to point out that there are four points to notice about life and death in these verses. First, notice the phrase at the end of verse 24: The person who believes in Him has “passed from death into life…” Jesus gave physical life to the man He healed at Bethesda. He was already alive, but Jesus enhanced his life and gave a new measure of life to this man. In verse 24, He is talking about eternal life or spiritual life. Jesus dealt with physical life.

God originally gave physical life, but when Jesus says that a person has passed from death into life, He is talking about the spiritual death and spiritual life. Anyone who chooses to trust in Jesus Christ and commit himself to Him in faith immediately passes from death into life—eternal life right here and now. Eternal life is unending, and something I like to point out that is clearly brought out in these verses and other places like them is that eternal life doesn't begin when we get to Heaven. Eternal life begins the moment we trust Jesus Christ as Savior. We tend to segment life into earthly life and future life, or we tend to think of this life and then eternal life as future. You have eternal life right now if you have trusted Jesus Christ as Savior. Eternity has already begun for you because a person who trusts in Christ passes, at that moment he trusts Christ, from death into life. To receive that eternal life from the hand of Jesus is to be exempt from condemnation. As you see, in verse 24, he will not come into condemnation, but is passed from death unto life.

Verses 25-29 cover three periods of time. He says, in verse 25:

John 5

25Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live.
26For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself;

Verse 26 is what we are talking about. The Father and the Son both give life. They reciprocate; they share equally in the ability to give life. Notice the phrase, “The hour is coming,…” That phrase referred primarily to the day of Pentecost, which was going to take place in a few months when Jesus would send the Holy Spirit from Heaven into the hearts of those who had already believed in Him as Savior. Then through them, others who were dead in sin would have life because of the message of eternal life they preached. Of course, that continues on down to the present—from the day of Pentecost until now. Those of us who have trusted Christ and have the Holy Spirit living within us tell other people about Jesus, and they pass from death unto life. People who lived on the earth when Jesus was on the earth and trusted in Him even before the Cross had that eternal life also; but in this verse, He is talking about the day that is coming when all believers would receive the Holy Spirit, and after that day all new believers would receive Him at the moment of salvation.

In verse 25, He also says, “The hour is coming, and now is…” and that is the second aspect of time that He is talking about here. That refers to the time when Jesus actually spoke those words. Jesus is saying, “There is a special thing coming in a few months, but right now, in essence, it is already true.” That is past as far as we are concerned, but He was talking about the present tense as far as He was concerned. So, to believe in Jesus Christ was then, and still is today, to enter into eternal life. It had already been made possible. People who trusted Christ before He ever went to the Cross were just like other people before the Cross in the Old Testament time. They were saved because they looked forward, by faith, to the fact that He was going to pay for their sins, just as we look backward, by faith, to the fact that He did pay for our sins. Jesus was saying, “That salvation is available right now as I speak.”

In verses 28-29, He goes back to refer to the hour that is coming. He mentions it in verse 25, but then, in verse 28, He says it again:

John 5

28Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice,
29And shall come forth…

The Father and the Son Execute Judgment

This hour that is coming that He refers, to in verse 28, is obviously different from the hour that He spoke about in verse 25. In verse 25, He was talking about how others would begin to tell others about passing from death into life, but these verses are talking about something completely different. They are talking about the hour that is coming at the end of time on earth as we know it, and it is a day of judgment. Those verses make it very clear. Notice:

John 5

28Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice,
29And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.

I want us to talk about those verses for a few minutes, because verse 27 goes on to make it clear that Jesus Himself will sit as judge at that resurrection. Remember again, we are talking about the prerogatives that God the Father and God the Son share. The first one is that they both give life, but the second one is that they both execute judgment, and that is what those verses that we just read are leading up to. Notice verse 30:

John 5

30I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.

God the Father has committed all judgment into the hand of the Lord Jesus Christ. Verse 27 gives the reason for that:

John 5

27And hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man.

The Son of Man is a term that Jesus often used to describe Himself, and it was a term that described the fact that He was both the Son of God and the Son of Man. He always used it in the context in which it was obvious that He was God, but He referred to Himself as the Son of Man , because He became a man, and He was the ultimate man. He was the quintessential man, and because He was a man, God committed the judgment of mankind to Him. Who better to judge mankind than the perfect man, the Son of Man.

Verse 30 brings out that He also judges according to the will of the Father, so in effect, the judgment is the Father's judgment also. It is only God the Son Who does the judging, but He does it because the Father has committed it to Him, so that is something that they share in. God the Father has given that job to God the Son.

Verses 28-29, if we read them carefully, show that the particular judgment that Jesus has in mind is what Revelation, chapter 20, refers to as the Great White Throne judgment . Verse 29 says that this judgment is in two parts. He says that those people who have died believing in Christ will be in one group—the resurrection of life; those who have not accepted Him are in the other group—the resurrection of condemnation. Revelation, chapter 20, explains that in more detail. Jesus is just referring to it in a summary way, but in Revelation, chapter 20, beginning in verse 11, John says:

Revelation 20

11And 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.
12And 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.
13And 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.
14And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.
15And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

In verse 12, it says that books were opened and the dead were judged according to their works, which were written in the books. Verse 12 also says that another book was opened; it was the Book of Life . In John, chapter 5, Jesus referred to those who have done good and those who have done evil, participating in this judgment. Those good works and evil works in John, chapter 5, are not a reference to good works or lack of good works; rather, they are a reference to the good work in putting their faith and trust in Jesus Christ or the evil work of refusing to put their faith and trust in Jesus Christ.

That becomes clear when we look at those books that are opened in Revelation, chapter 20. Verse 15 says that the final determination in the White Throne judgment is made on the basis of those names written in the Book of Life . Notice again:

Revelation 20

15And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

We know from verse 24 and many others that spiritual life comes from faith in Jesus Christ. That is what John is talking about in John, chapter 5. A person passes from death into spiritual life when he puts his faith in Jesus Christ, but if that were not enough, Revelation, chapter 21, verse 27, refers to this same book as the Lamb's Book of Life . So the Book of Life is a book in which the names of those who have trusted in Jesus Christ are written. We have books in this judgment that describe the deeds that people have done, and then we have another book in which the names of those who have trusted in Christ are written.

This is a wonderful explanation of the judgment of God, and the reason that I wanted to go over it again is that God does not overlook any of the good work that anyone has done. I think it is literally true that God has written down every good work that anybody has ever done—believers and unbelievers alike. He has written down every contribution to charity, every delivery of Meals On Wheels, every nail driven for Habitat for Humanity. Everything good that anyone has ever done, God has faithfully recorded.

At that last judgment, Jesus Christ, sitting as the Judge, is going to open those books, and although the Scripture doesn't record the actual statements that will be made, it is as though Jesus might say, “Why should I let you into Heaven?” The person would answer and say, “I have done this and done that.” Jesus would have the Book of Works open and would say, “Yes, We have that recorded about you. We see that you did that. It is all recorded here. In fact, here is a thing or two that you didn't mention that We also have recorded.” But this passage makes very clear that these works are not the basis of judgment. Who is it that is cast away from Heaven into the lake of fire? According to verse 15, those who are not found recorded in the Book of Life . So the scene in Heaven would be something like that. The people will list all of their good works, and Jesus will tell them that He has it recorded, but He doesn't find your name listed in the Lamb's Book of Life. Apparently, you have never trusted in Jesus Christ as your Savior because those are the names that are written here. Because of that, you cannot come into Heaven.

In a very graphic way, this judgment describes the basis for entering Heaven. It is not on the basis of good works. God honors good works. God uses good works, and God allows people to be honored in this life for human good works that they do. These works are a good part of what holds our world together in this period of human history, and God records those things and God gives credit for those things; but what God looks at for salvation is whether or not a person's name is written in the Lamb's Book of Life, and this judgment brings it out very clearly.

The Father and the Son Both Receive Honor

John, chapter 5, tells us that it is Jesus Christ Who will officiate at the Great White Throne judgment and at the other judgments that the Scripture mentions also. In verses 24-29, we see that both the Father and the Son give life, and they both execute judgment, in verse 30. Another thing that they share in is that they both receive honor, according to verses 31-47.

Jesus, no doubt, knows what is going through the minds of His hearers as He makes these stupendous claims about Himself. They are claims that have never before been made about any mere man. He knows that, at the very least, these skeptical Jews he is speaking to must be thinking, “What evidence can He bring to support these claims?” They are probably thinking worse than that, but they are at least thinking that. “Prove it to us. What evidence do you have of all of this?”

In these verses, He condescends to meet their demands, and He produces independent witnesses to the claims that He is making about His equality with the Father. The witnesses are listed in verses 31-37. He sets the stage for calling these witnesses by saying:

John 5

31If I bear witness of myself, my witness is not true.

Of course, being God, Jesus was absolute truth. He was God and God is absolute truth, so what does this mean? That doesn't seem to make sense when we realize that we are talking about the very God of truth, but what Jesus is doing, in verse 31, is simply speaking in terms of the Old Testament law. Jesus came to fulfill the law, and He did that in several ways. One way that He fulfilled the law was that He kept it perfectly. In Old Testament law, Deuteronomy, chapter 17, verse 6, and Deuteronomy, chapter 19, verse 15, both say that there must be at least two witnesses for an event to be recognized as true or to be accepted for legitimate testimony. The New Testament mentions this, too, in II Corinthians, chapter 13, verse 1, and I Timothy, chapter 5, verse 19. These verses declare that there must be two witnesses before something is recorded in God's system of things as legitimate and acceptable.

Interestingly enough, Jesus calls three witnesses. He only needs two. He can't testify for Himself. He has to have two witnesses, but He is going to get three. The first witness that He reminds them of is John the Baptist. Look at verse 33:

John 5

33Ye sent unto John, and he bare witness unto the truth.
34But I receive not testimony from man: but these things I say, that ye might be saved.
35He was a burning and a shining light: and ye were willing for a season to rejoice in his light.

Think about what He is saying. John the Baptist had repeatedly witnessed that Jesus was the Christ. That had been the focus for His whole ministry, and there are specific statements of that here in John, chapter 1, verses 19, 20, 26, 29, 35 and 36. In each of those verses, John the Baptist said, “This is the Son of God,” so Jesus had a witness that He could call, whom the Jewish leaders themselves had sent for. They had sent a delegation out to hear John the Baptist, and that is what He means in verse 33, when He says, “You have sent to John….” He said, “You sent your own people out to listen to him, and he has borne witness to the fact that I am God.”

In verse 34, Jesus says that although He doesn't depend on any merely human witness, He was willing to use anything that they could understand in order to help them believe Him and be saved. He says, in verse 34, “The reason that I am going into all of this is that even you might accept Me as your Savior.”

Verse 35 refers to the glowing light that John the Baptist witnessed. The Jews were willing to accept John the Baptist for a time and they, to use Jesus' words, rejoiced in His light. John was very popular even with the Jewish leaders for a time, and Jesus refers to that. But it was only temporary because by the time Jesus was saying these words, John the Baptist had already been put to death by King Herod, who did everything he did in order to please the Jews.

Incidentally, as a sidelight to this that I think is an application that can be made, we need to be very careful if there is a messenger from God who is saying things that we don't like to hear. If you hear a pastor, Bible teacher or evangelist who is speaking for God, saying something that you do not like to hear, it may be because he is mistaken. You have the right and the obligation to hold up what he is saying to the light of God's Word. If he is a legitimate teacher, he will probably show you where he is coming from and where, in the Bible, he has the authority to say these things. False teachers can do that too. If you hear a person who claims to be a representative of God saying something that you do not like, the first thing to do is to check it against Scripture. If you find that he does have biblical basis for what he is saying, and you don't like it anyway, then you need to be very careful that you don't reject him just because you do not like it.

It may be your life that needs to make the adjustment, and the perfect example of that is these religious Jews who were listening to Jesus and rejecting Him, not because it wasn't biblical, but because they didn't like what He said even though it was biblical.

That is something that we all need to be on the alert about. We need to be careful that we don't reject something just because we don't like it until we make sure that it is not biblical. If we reject it because it is not biblical, that is an entirely different matter. I think, on a smaller scale than those Jews did, that we who are God's children could make the same mistake by rejecting the messenger because we don't like the message.

There is a second witness Jesus calls. Jesus says that His own works witness to the fact that He is God. Notice verse 36:

John 5

36But I have greater witness than that of John: for the works which the Father hath given me to finish, the same works that I do, bear witness of me, that the Father hath sent me.

At the beginning of this very long chapter, we had an example of that when Jesus healed the man at the pool of Bethesda. I hope that I don't overdo it, but any time we talk about these miracles, I try to point out that Jesus did not come just to do miracles. Jesus didn't come to just heal people. As we saw when we were looking at those first fifteen verses, Jesus healed that one man out of dozens who were gathered around that pool. If Jesus only came to heal, either He really didn't have a very good batting average or He was very cruel, because He walked away from the pool of Bethesda that day with only one person healed. Jesus did not come primarily to heal. It tells us right here, in verse 36, why He did healings and other miracles. Notice:

John 5

36…the same works that I do, bear witness of me, that the Father hath sent me.

He did the miracles to prove that He was God. As I have pointed out many times before, He could have done various kinds of miracles that would have proved He was God that would not have helped anybody. He showed that He was a loving God by doing miracles that always benefited people. He never did a miracle that didn't benefit someone. He never did make the sun turn green or anything like that. He could have done that, but that would not have helped anybody. It probably would have scared a lot of people into Heaven, but every miracle that He did helped somebody. His purpose was not primarily to help people, but to show that He was God. Verse 36 is a clear statement of that.

He also speaks about His finished work, in verse 36:

John 5

36…for the works which the Father hath given me to finish…

He didn't come just to show that He was God. He came to show that He was God, and then, having shown that He was God, He died for our sins. The finished work of Christ is a proof that He was God. At the point that He was saying this, He couldn't point to the finished work, because He wasn't through with the work, but He could point to the miracles that He did, and He said, “These bare witness of Me that the Father hath sent Me.”

Two witnesses were enough to satisfy the demands of the law. In verse 37, though, Jesus gives a third witness, and that is the Old Testament Scriptures. Notice in verse 37:

John 5

37And the Father himself, which hath sent me, hath borne witness of me. Ye have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his shape.

We have to think about this verse because it does not specifically use the term, Old Testament , but notice, in verse 37, it says, “He hath testified of Me.” How did God the Father testify of Jesus? He testified of Him by sending the dove and the voice from Heaven when Jesus was baptized, saying, “This is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” However, the bigger place that God testified about Jesus was in the Old Testament Scriptures. All of the Old Testament Scriptures were written to tell about Jesus Christ. In fact, a little farther down in the chapter, Jesus is going to say, “You searched the Scriptures wherein you think you have eternal life, and they are they which testify of Me.” Jesus is saying, “You want another proof that I am God? Look at the Old Testament. The Father has borne witness of Me. You have listened, but He has testified of Me.”

One of the proofs of the inspiration of Scripture and at the same time proof of the deity of Christ is the way that the Old Testament predicted Him and the way that those prophecies were fulfilled. The prophecies and their fulfillment prove that the Bible is God's Word because only God could have made predictions that were that accurately filled; but they also prove that Jesus was God because Jesus was the only person in all of history to fulfill all of those predictions perfectly. There were false Christs who came along every once in a while and would do some slight of hand and claim to have done a miracle and tried to fulfill this prophecy or that prophecy. Some of them had a following, but Jesus fulfilled every prophecy in the Old Testament—every prediction about the Messiah. It proves two things: Jesus was God, and the Old Testament was the Word of God.

Other references to this witness of Christ are scattered through the rest of these verses in this chapter, and we will talk about those in a little different context each time, but this is the summary verse. The third witness that Jesus is God is the proof of the Old Testament.

Jesus Warns Jews and Unbelievers

We have been talking about the witnesses to the honor of Jesus Christ as God, so out of that background, in verses 38-47, we find a solemn warning that Jesus makes to the Jews and to unbelievers in general on the basis of that. Look at verse 38, where He says:

John 5

38And ye have not his word abiding in you: remember He is talking to the religious Jews for whom he hath sent, him ye believe not.
39Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.
40And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.
41I receive not honour from men.
42But I know you, that ye have not the love of God in you.
43I am come in my Father's name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive.
44How can ye believe, which receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only?
45Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father: there is one that accuseth you, even Moses, in whom ye trust.
46For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me; for he wrote of me.
47But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?

Here is another witness to the Old Testament, but He uses it in a little different context. Even though John the Baptist and the works that Jesus did and the Old Testament prophets all witnessed to the deity of Jesus Christ, these Jews still refused to hear Him. When you hear that, in this context, you say, “That is an amazing thing that these Jewish Bible scholars would not believe Jesus Christ when He had all of this proof that He was actually God.” Verse 39 points out that even though they searched the Scriptures which testify so clearly about Who Jesus Christ is, they refused to come to Him. Verse 44 points out the reason:

John 5

44How can ye believe, which receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only?

He is saying, “They loved their own reputation, and they sought honor in the eyes of men instead of seeking first the honor that comes from God alone.” That is why they would not receive Him. They were not interested in His honor; they were interested in their own honor.

The climax comes in verses 45-47. Their very unbelief of these witnesses of the Old Testament accuses them before God. Jesus said, “I don't have to accuse you to God. Your rejection of the very Word of God accuses you itself.”

This is reminiscent of the story Jesus told in Luke, chapter 16, about the rich man and the beggar. You remember the story of how when they both died, the rich man who had so much more in this life than Lazarus had, went to Hades—that Old Testament version of Hell. The beggar went to Paradise. Before the resurrection of Jesus Christ, Heaven and Hell were divided up differently. In the Old Testament, there was Hades, and there was Paradise. These were described as being in Abraham's bosom. I don't think that they were literally in Abraham's bosom, but technically speaking, believers could not enter Heaven until after Jesus had died. So believers in the Old Testament went to Paradise, which was in every way equivalent to Heaven except that it wasn't in the presence of God yet. At any rate, for purposes of this illustration, the rich man went to Hell, and the poor man went to Heaven. The rich man was tormented in the flames of Hell, and he asked Father Abraham to send Lazarus with a drop of water to put on his tongue. Father Abraham said, “No, that cannot be done. There is a great gulf fixed between you.” So the rich man said, “Would you send Lazarus to go tell my five brothers so they will not come to this place?” Father Abraham, who is the voice of God in the story, said, “They have Moses and the prophets. Let them read them.” He is saying that they have the Old Testament, and if they would read it, they would not have to come to this place. The rich man in Hell said, “They will not believe Moses and the prophets, but they will believe if one comes to them from the dead.”

We would think that would be true, wouldn't we? We would think that if somebody came back from the dead and said, “It is all true. You don't want to go to Hell. You want to go to Heaven,” that people would believe that. The reply from God is very interesting there in Luke, chapter 16. He said, “If they will not hear Moses and the prophets, they will not hear though one come to them from the dead.”

Listen, if people are not going to believe the Word of God, they are not going to believe anything. That is what Jesus is saying here. “You people don't believe in Me because you don't believe the Bible.” That is the reason that we, who try to bring people to Christ, need to be careful that we stick to the Scripture because that is the dividing line. That is the thing that really brings a clear-cut distinction between those who will believe and those who won't. It is an easy trap to fall into to try to talk people into salvation and to talk about our experience and to talk about the experience of somebody else. Those are good things to use as reference points, but when we talk to somebody about Jesus Christ, we need to stick to what the Scripture says. We can perhaps use ourselves as a backup to that or use some other person's experience as a backup, but we should always be sure that we come to them with the Word of God because that is the great dividing line. That is where the truth is. That is where the life is, and if they won't believe that, it doesn't matter how many stories you tell them about yourself or somebody else. If they won't believe the Word of God, they are not going to believe.

Even for those of us who have trusted Christ as Savior there are some applications that we can make of this. This warning that Jesus gave to those godless Jews is a warning of the danger of refusing to believe Him. What He is saying about Himself is straight out of the Word of God. First, we need to think about the extreme honor that Jesus Christ deserves. He is God, and all through this last third of the chapter this is what has been emphasized. He deserves all the honor that God the Father deserves.

That may seem like something that doesn't even need to be said, but I think that it is important because of the personal relationship that we have with Jesus Christ. I am so thankful for that personal relationship that we have. He is our brother. He is our Father. He is our best friend. He is the friend that sticketh closer than a brother. All of those things are true, and thank God we can come to Him any time, any place, and we can think of Him in that intimate, personal way. At the same time, let us never forget that He is God, and He deserves all of the honor that we would normally think of in terms of God and all that God is. We need to keep those two things in attention in our thinking. Keep attention between the fact that He is my brother; He is my Father; He is my friend. At the same time, He is the exalted God of the universe. Both of those things we need to keep in mind, and we need to be very careful that we don't let other people get by with lowering Him to their standards if we can do anything about it.

Do we consciously or maybe subconsciously make some of the mistakes that these Jewish leaders were making? Do we receive or give special attention to people who come only in their own name? Jesus said, “You won't receive Me, but you will receive people who come in their own name. I come to you in the name of the Old Testament and the name of John the Baptist and in the works that I do, and you won't receive Me; but somebody who comes along and just tells you that he is somebody, you will receive him.”

I think that we can still do that. It is a danger that we face of accepting somebody because they are well known, because they occupy a powerful place, or because they have a large ministry of some kind, but they may not really be a man of God. They may be a false teacher, or they may be a person who really has nothing to do with God at all. A lot of people would be a great deal more excited to meet some movie star or some media celebrity than they would be to meet God Himself. I am convinced of that.

That is what Jesus is talking about. Who is really important to us? To whom do we attach great importance? In principle, we can make that same mistake.

A third mistake that we can make is to avoid identifying ourselves with Jesus Christ because of the lack of honor that we might receive from that. That was a third reason that these men would not receive Christ. They sought the honor of men. To have the honor of men very often means that we can't have the honor of God, and vise versa. We need to be very careful that what is important to us is the honor of God. To receive the honor of God may cut us out of receiving some of the honor of men. Sometimes we refuse to follow His instructions or stand up for Him because it would take away some honor of men or keep us from getting some honor of men.

Conclusion

Even though this argument that Jesus gave is to unbelieving Jews—and we don't want to lose sight of that—the application of those principles can be made to our lives as well. It won't keep us out of Heaven if we have trusted Christ as Savior, but it will keep us from having all that we could have in our walk with Jesus Christ—either to pass from death into life or to go on with just a hum drum human life. That is the basic issue of these verses. “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved. He who believes in Him has passed from death into life and shall not come into condemnation.”

That is the message that we need to be finding every way that we can to spread and help others to spread.


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