The Lord’s Authoritative Command (John 5:24-29)
By Andrew E. Courtis
The focus in this passage is the voice and word of Jesus Christ. Unlike any other voice in the universe, His voice is a voice of absolute authority, power and command. I find it amazing how the tone, inflection, and expression of someone’s voice can be the difference between being ignored and being heard. When we talk about the Lord’s authoritative and commanding voice, the focus is not on an audible voice that many claim to hear.But rather the focus is on the outcome of a voice that speaks with absolute effectiveness. In other words, when He speaks with this voice of command, nothing will get in the way of preventing what He spoke coming to pass. Such a capacity to speak with such authority is Divine. Illustrations of the powerful Divine voice are seen throughout Scripture. It was the voice of God that spoke the universe into existence (“For He spoke, and it came to be; He commanded, and it stood firm” Psalm 33:9). It is the voice of God that upholds all things by His word (Heb. 1:1-3). The voice of God was able to provide complete healing to the sick. The voice of God brings salvation to a lost sinner. And it is the voice of God that will one day raise up all people who have ever existed. This truly is a voice of authority, command and power. It is this same voice that Jesus claimed to have as He spoke to the religious leaders. He stated that He has a voice that causes resurrection. When I say resurrection, I am s referring to the dead being made alive. Scripture speaks of two kinds of resurrections. One is spiritual and the other is physical. The spiritual resurrection occurs here and now every time the Lord provides salvation to a lost sinner. The physical resurrection is an event in the future in which the Lord will raise up every single human being and grant him or her a resurrected body fitted out for eternity. This brings us to our passage in the Gospel of John.
Sermon Summary: In this message we will consider the authority Jesus has over the present spiritual resurrection and the future physical resurrection.
1. THE PRESENT SPIRITUAL RESURRECTION (5:24-26)
Jesus had just healed the man who had been lame for 38 years on the Sabbath day. This act, along with His offensive claim to be Divine has sparked a flame that enraged the Jewish religious leaders. After defending His own claim in being equal with the Father (John 5:17-23), Jesus elaborates on His ability to give life and to be the judge in the last day (John 5:22-23). He begins by stating His Divine authority in granting life to the spiritually dead (5:24-26). The words “truly, truly” in verses 24 and 25 are designed to catch the listener’s attention as they reveal great emphasis and emotion. It is clear from these verses that there is a difference between a believer and an unbeliever. There are two destinations – there is “eternal life” and there is “judgment”. For one to experience eternal life, it is necessary that they have “passed from death to life”. How does this occur? Jesus makes it plain that if you hear His word and believe in Him you will have eternal life. This means that you have been released from the future judgment in last day and you have been transferred from death unto life. Consider verse 24, “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life”. This verse provides us with an understanding of mankind’s spiritual condition that is repeated throughout Scripture. Because of sin, all people are spiritually dead and are therefore unable to save themselves (cf. Eph. 2:1). The only way in which a sinner in the condition of spiritual death is able to experience spiritual life is if the Lord raises him up. It is essential that the Lord create spiritual life within the individual so that they may believe. Jesus continues to capture the attention of His listeners by saying, “Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live” (5:25). He is revealing truth concerning a present reality that will be followed by an ultimate fulfillment in the future. The point being raised here again is that Jesus is able to resurrect those who are spiritually dead and provide them with newness of life. He can do this because He is God. In verse 26 he says, “For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself” (5:26). Jesus has the authority to issue the command of spiritual resurrection because the Father has given Him this authority. If you are believer in Christ, know and understand that it is because of the authoritative command of Christ that you believe. The same voice that spoke the universe into existence, the same voice that upholds and maintains the universe, the same voice that brought physical healing to people is the voice that spoke spiritual life into existence in your soul. For this reason, you ought to devote yourself to exalting and serving Him.
2. THE FUTURE PHYSICAL RESURRECTION (5:27-29)
The Lord’s authoritative command is not only seen in His ability speak spiritual life into existence, but it is also seen in His ability to speak physical life into existence. During His earthly ministry Jesus performed a number of miracles that demonstrate this power. In John 11 we read about the death of Lazarus.
Jesus told Martha that Lazarus would rise again. She replied by stating that she knew that this would happen in the resurrection on the last day. Jesus then said, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live” (11:25).
After Jesus arrived at the tomb was greatly moved. He commanded that the stone be rolled away, to which Martha objected given that he had been dead for four days. After reminder of His words earlier one concerning the purpose of His power, with authority He commands, “Lazarus, come out” (11:43) and suddenly Lazarus, dressed like a mummy comes hopping out of the tomb. Jesus said, “Unbind him, and let him go” (11:44). This is simply a mere shadow of what will one day occur in the future. The time is coming when the Lord Jesus Christ will issue out an authoritative command and all who have died will be raised up to be judged. This is an incredible thought. This will occur because the Father “has given Him authority to execute judgment, because He is the Son of Man” (5:27). This is an allusion to Daniel 7, where we read about Daniel’s vision of the Ancient of Days (God the Father) seated with power and authority (Dan. 7:9-10). In this vision Daniel also sees “one like a son of man” (The Lord Jesus Christ) approach the Ancient of Days and is given dominion, glory and a kingdom that is everlasting and expands over all the earth (Dan. 7:13-14; cf. Dan. 2:35, 44-45). This is why Jesus says this, namely because it has always been the Father’s intention to grant this authority of judgment to the Son. Jesus continued by saying, “Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear His voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment” (5:28-29). The reality behind what we read in verses 28-29 is amazing. Every single person in history will one day be raised up and will stand before God. With authority and command, the Lord Jesus Christ will speak and the dead will be raised. Note that Jesus speaks of two different kinds of resurrection – “the resurrection of life” and “the resurrection of judgment”. The first is in reference to believers and the second to unbelievers. Back in the book of Daniel we read, “And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt” (Daniel 12:2). This future event is something the people of God for centuries have anticipated. Concerning the resurrection of life the apostle Paul wrote,
“For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord” (1 Thess. 4:16-17) “Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed” (1 Cor. 15:51-52)
This will be a spectacular event. At the return of Jesus Christ His people will be changed instantly. They will receive resurrected bodies and will be fitted out to enjoy the eternal kingdom of their Lord. Concerning the resurrection of judgment John in the book of Revelation writes,
“Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire” (Rev. 20:11-15).
In contrast to what we just considered, this will be a sad event. Every unbeliever who ever existed will one day face the Creator and He will issue judgment. Not one of their sins will be forgotten and He will provide a just sentence that we all deserve. Jesus said it plainly, “an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment”. When He says “those who have done good” and “those who have done evil” it is important to understand that those actions are not the basis of their condition. Rather, they are the evidence of their condition. That is to say, good works don’t save, but they do evidence one’s salvation.
Because Jesus is God He has the authority and power to bring life to lost sinners and will one day raise up all mankind for judgment. My question at the conclusion of this message is: have you heard His voice? I’m not talking about hearing an audible voice; the religious leaders who rejected Christ heard His audible voice as He spoke these very words. The hearing I’m talking about is the desire to submit your life to Christ and to walk in obedience to His Word. Jesus said to Pilate, “Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice” (John 18:37). Are you of the truth?