In the gospels, there sections where its like you’ve switched to the highlights package! Sections like this seem packed with revelations about who Jesus really is, how Jesus relates to the Father and the Father to the Son or Spirit – John 5:18-30 is a section just like that. Having just healed the invalid at the Pool of Bethesda on the Sabbath, Jesus’ authority & His claimed identity and or relationship with God is being challenged by some Jewish people and then Jesus speaks in a way that is just packed with self-revelation.
So let’s survey this short section and marvel at all we can glean about the Godhead from what Jesus said in it:
- ‘Truly, truly, I say to you’ (vs19) – Jesus is often referred to as ‘Rabbi’ by people engaging with Him. That is how they saw Jesus, as a teacher. But Jesus was unlike all the other Rabbi’s! They used to quote Scripture, quote one another. Jesus, however, is recorded by John as saying; “Truly, truly I…” 25x in his gospel. Jesus’ authority was remarked on by those who heard Him, Jesus didn’t come to interpret other’s teaching, He came as God the Omniscient One in human flesh bringing direct revelation understanding to those who listened.
- ‘the Son can do nothing of his own accord…’ (vs19) – In stark contrast to the first half of vs19 is this phrase. Here we learn that although fully God, Jesus came to do the will of God the Father. Despite Jesus having all authority as God, Jesus came to serve the will of God the Father. Jesus’ will was to serve the will of the Father.
- ‘For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing’ (vs20) – there is a beautiful relationship between the Father and the Son described here. God the Father loves the Son and so shares all that’s in His heart and mind with the Son. The Father draws the Son into His plans and purposes as a Son not a servant!
- ‘the Son gives life to whom He will’ (vs21) – both the Father and the Son have the ability to suspend the normal progression of life and death. In this the Father and Son are equal in their power to raise to life or give eternal life.
- ‘The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, that all may honour the Son.’ (vs22-23) – the Father wants the Son honoured by all! For this reason there are roles assigned by the Father exclusively to Jesus so that Jesus may be honoured before all people.
- ‘Whoever does not honour the Son does not honour the Father who sent Him’ (vs23) – one cannot divide up the Godhead, one cannot choose to honour the Father but not Jesus. This verse contains the revelation that all other religions like Judaism, Islam, Jehovah’s Witnesses stumble over – to reject that Jesus is God is to reject God Himself.
- Believing in Jesus results in eternal life! (vs24) – again Jesus quotes no one, but exclaims with utter conviction and authority that anyone who believes what He says about Himself and salvation, that person has eternal life. Such a person has passed from death into life that’s eternal. Anyone who makes statements like this is either a terrible con-man, a certified nutcase or is really God Himself.
- ‘He has given authority to execute judgement’ (vs27) – The Father has assigned the role of Judge to Jesus. Jesus is the One before every man, woman and child from every age and every culture will stand one day. We all have an appointment with Jesus the Judge that we didn’t schedule, but we can’t avoid, or be late for, or re-schedule. Our personal opinion about that appointment doesn’t change its reality one iota, but knowing Jesus is our Judge who will execute judgment encourages us to reach out to Him now while we can so that He becomes our Saviour and Friend in such a way that we will never have to fear that day again.
- ‘I can do nothing on my own…I seek not my own will but the will of Him who sent me’ (vs30) – what humility from the Judge of all the earth! Jesus’ submission to the Father and His preoccupation with pleasing the Father is inspiring! May I, may we be like Him.
Behold your God. Behold, Jesus.
Jesus had lived as a son, brother, neighbour, friend or acquaintance for 30yrs in Nazareth. Isaiah prophesied about Jesus nearly 900yrs before;
For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. (Isaiah 53:2)
Jesus was remarkably normal to those around Him, Jesus was fully man. But as his public ministry begins and as John begins to testify about Him John records the early moments and in John 1:35-51 there are six adjectives that help to answer the question; Who is Jesus?
The Lamb of God
This phrase sums up Jesus’ purpose. He came to give His life as the ransom price for all those who would put their faith in Him. Jesus is the fulfillment of the whole sacrificial system of worship, repentance and forgiveness, He is the only sacrifice that ever gave His life willingly and the only perfect once and for all sacrifice.
This phrase describes Jesus’ role. He came to deliver and redeem His people. Jesus was the long awaited Messiah and amazingly even in these first encounters the disciples had some revelation that this is who Jesus was.
Jesus of Nazareth son of Joseph
This description sums up Jesus’ humanity. Jesus is and was a historical figure, known by those who lived at the time, known in a time and place. Jesus is not some mystical figure but was so human some of those eyewitnesses battled to believe He was God.
We know from numerous accounts in the Gospel’s that Jesus was a gifted and authoritative teacher. At times Jesus let people use this title for Him as He taught a lot about the kingdom yet occasionally Jesus rebuked those who used it in a way that limited His deity and authority (The rich young ruler). Jesus is the omniscient God, no wonder He taught with authority on all topics He chose to.
The Son of God
This title speaks of Jesus’ primary relationship & His identity. He is the second member of the Trinity, begotten and beloved Son as the Father exclaimed from heaven more than once to those present to hear. The gospel of John makes Jesus identity as the Son a central theme.
The King of Israel
This title speaks of Jesus’ kingly position. As the revelation of the disciples grows Jesus becomes seen to them not just as the King of Israel but the King of kings, Lord if all!
Behold Jesus! What a Saviour, what a King!
As we start December, what a fitting way to begin contemplating who Jesus is and why He came to earth.
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)
God became flesh. Creator God entered His creation. God moved into the neighbourhood of people like you and I. God who is not constrained by time and space constrained Himself to time and space. God, who does not change, became like us so as to communicate with us, be understood by us, and ultimately so that He could die for us in our place for our sin! God the immortal One, took on mortal flesh so as to give us immortality.
Behold Jesus! Mystery, wonder, awe, worship…
And why? Why did God do this? Why did Jesus enter our humanity?
So that He could become the sacrificial atoning Lamb of God who could take away the sins of the world (vs29). He had to become like us, so that he could die for us in our place for our sin.
So that God could adopt as His own beloved children all those who believe in Jesus (vs12).
Jesus we stand amazed. Jesus there is no one like you, no one who can compare, no one who has gone to such great lengths to love us – we worship You and adore You.
Read and re-read and re-read John 1:1-34. Be in awe and wonder, worship and delight in Jesus, in God.
In Mark 14 the central figure is Jesus. The Mark’s Gospel slows down in these final hours of Jesus’ life, earlier chapters sometimes covered multiple days but now it’s slowed right down, these final moments matter, these events show us who Jesus is and what Jesus came to do for you and I.
The writer like a modern day director of a video, keeps switching perspectives, revealing how a whole variety of people saw Jesus, what they understood about who He was and what He had come to these final moments to do.
The Murderers (vs1-2)
Ever since Mark 3:6 thoughts about how to capture and kill Jesus were real. When the chief priests and scribes saw Jesus all they wanted to do was kill him, Jesus filled them with rage and fury – that was their perspective. It is possible to feel right about the wrong thing! They were convinced they were doing a right thing in planning to kill Jesus, felt justified in their actions, felt they were even doing a good thing. Is there anything you’ve convinced yourself of that you feel right about, but maybe is in fact wrong to do?
The Worshiper (vs3-9)
In sharp contrast we have the woman who boldly approaches Jesus lavishly pours out her love and thanks and devotion to Jesus in an act of worship fit for a king. He is worth it, her love for Him is worth expressing in this way, it is not wasteful as some felt, it is an entirely justified act of lavish beautiful worship according to Jesus (14:6). Does ‘lavish’ describe your devotion to Jesus Christ?
The Betrayer (vs10-11 & 44-46)
Was Judas one of those who protested at this woman’s wasteful worship? A whole years wages wasted on Jesus. Maybe he was happy for Jesus to be a good teacher, a miracle worker, but for people to worship Him in this way – inappropriate, too much, wasteful and wrong…? He is not with Jesus, his heart has shifted, and so he decides to betray Jesus for a some of money. How could someone be so close, in the tight circle with Jesus and yet be unmoved by Jesus at a heart level? Proximity to Jesus does not guarantee faith in Jesus and love for Jesus.
The Friends (vs12-21)
It’s festival time, it’s that time for meals with close family. The close friends and followers of Jesus want to prepare a meal for the Passover. Jesus knows it is His last meal with these ones He has shared His life with, these ones He has invested the most in, and these ones He is about to leave to continue the Father’s will on the planet. They share a meal but there is an awkward moment in the meal as Jesus reveals to them that one of them has it in his heart to betray Him.
The Inner Circle (vs32-42)
The three closest to Jesus are called by Jesus to follow Him into the garden of Gethsemane where Jesus calls them to watch and pray. Jesus is not Himself, they see Jesus distressed, troubled, saying disconcerting things… ‘What’s going on?’ they must have wondered but exhausted they fall asleep more than once leaving Jesus alone in His hour of need as He cries out to the Father if there is any other way. How alone Jesus must have felt, even His closest disciples aren’t there when He needed them. Graciously still, Jesus knows, their hearts are with Him but their bodies are weak (vs38).
The Father (vs36/39)
Was the Father crying with Jesus? What was it like for the Father to hear His Son crying out, Father “remove this cup from me” and to remain silent because there wasn’t another way. Oh how deeply our salvation cost the Father and the Son! Did the Father look away because He could no longer look on His Son, writhing in prayer? Oh what pride and love must have swelled in the heart of the Father to see and hear the Son say; “Yet, not what I will, but what You will.” (vs36)
The Deserters (vs43-52)
Everyone left Jesus, abandoned Him. Not one remained. Alone.
The Accusers (vs53-65)
Jesus – arrested for nothing, falsely accused with trumped up charges that weren’t even consistent. He remained silent before them, didn’t try to defend Himself like He could have and only answered when the High Priest said; ‘Are you the Christ?’ “I AM” Jesus said. I am God, I am the Messiah and you will see it in time to come Jesus went on to say. For which they began to beat Jesus and spit on Him and mock Him.
The Denier (vs66-72)
Although he had deserted along with the rest of them, Peter loved Jesus and so followed at a distance, looked on at His trial. But when challenged regarding his relationship with Jesus he too deserted Jesus denying Him with his words, over and over again. He believed he wouldn’t, believed he would risk all to follow Jesus, but he didn’t and it impacted him deeply.
Who is Jesus to you? What’s your perspective?
Do you truly see what He has DONE for you?
Will you live your whole life as a lavish worship response?
To love God fully & to love people sums up all the commandments. We can easily make following Jesus overly complicated but Jesus makes God’s will exceedingly clear.
The Scribes and Pharisees were full of questions fixating on minor issues. However in reality they were majoring on the minor and minoring in the momentous!
Jesus was and is God in the flesh in their midst. Jesus had come to seek and save the lost, however most of these Pharisees and Scribes were not loving Him but rejecting Him.
As the Westminster Shorter Catechism states; “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.” This is our purpose, to love, to honour, to glorify God in all we do.
And Jesus connects this with how we treat others. If we truly love God, our hearts will be soft toward God and the Holy Spirit will lead us to love others as God has loved us. This is the whole message of Galatians 5:16-24.
Loving God leads to loving people, being compassionate, merciful, forgiving as we have been forgiven. That’s true godliness, true holiness. That’s what we should be majoring in!
And the only way to get to a life that truly looks like that, is to have a life that is overtaken with love for God. And the only way to love God more deeply is to see God more clearly, to see who He is and what He has done for us and to live out your whole life as a response. #moreinawe
Jesus is characterised by the unexpected. The Jesus of Scripture doesn’t fit into the box of neatly arranged human expectations. Some people walk around with “WWJD” rubber bracelets with the intention of suggesting we should live like Jesus, but what would Jesus really do in many situations?
For example: if you come across a deaf guy with a speech impediment like Jesus did in Mark 7:31-37. WHAT WOULD JESUS DO & WHAT SHOULD YOU DO? Well Jesus stuck His fingers in the mans ears, spat and then touched the mans tongue and he was healed!
Or again, if you come across a blind man like Jesus did in Mark 8:22-26. WHAT WOULD JESUS DO & WHAT SHOULD YOU DO? Well again, Jesus spat, this time on the man’s eyes, laid hands on him and he was healed after praying initially and then praying again.
I would hazard a guess that these are not suggested methods in many; ‘How to heal manuals’. You can’t put Jesus in a box you’ve made for Him.
Seeing all that Jesus was doing, people began to have growing opinions regarding who Jesus was and what He had come to do. Was Jesus, John the Baptist raised from the dead or Elijah or one of the other prophets raised from the dead? Why was Jesus here, what had he come to do?
In that moment, Peter has a revelation and exclaims; “You are the Christ (Messiah)” (Mark 8:29). In that moment, God the Father reveals to Peter WHO Jesus really is (Matthew 15:17), the long-anticipated Messiah.
But still Jesus will not be boxed by our limited expectations regarding what Jesus had come to do. The Jewish people had been anticipating the Messiah for hundreds of years, they had hoped that the Messiah would deliver them from human oppression and the national disgrace they’d endured under foreign ruling powers. Peter and others expect that the Messiah will deliver them from Roman rule and oppression…
And so when Jesus starts to teach about how he is going to suffer and be rejected and be killed…Peter can’t handle it! You can imagine him crying out; “No, Jesus”, ”This is not how it is supposed to be”. He wants Jesus to fit into his box, but Jesus won’t.
Jesus rebukes Peter, calls him out as doing Satan’s work in resisting what Jesus is saying is his ultimate mission. “For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” (Mark 8:33)
We do this at times don’t we? We want Jesus to fit into the box we have made for Him? I sometimes encounter people who will use the phrase, “Well my Jesus wouldn’t do that/say that/expect that…”
But if He is YOUR JESUS then He is not the Jesus revealed in Scripture. Reading the Gospels it is apparent to me that the disciples were on a journey of discovery, learning more and more (often in unexpected ways) about WHO Jesus was and WHAT Jesus had come to do on planet earth.
May I, may we remain humble, open to the real Jesus revealed in Scripture.
May we always be in awe & wonder at WHO Jesus is & WHAT Jesus did for us.
And then may we worship Jesus with our whole lives.
Why trumps what! Why you do what you do, matters more to Jesus than just what you do.
The Pharisees and scribes are indignant! Jesus and his disciples are not adhering to the strict codes and traditions that had built up around God’s law that regulated every aspect of life in the attempt to keep ‘pure’.
These regulations legislated behaviour in everything, here Mark mentions the scenario of coming home from the market where one could have been defiled by contact with Gentiles and the need to wash hands, pots, plates & even couches!
Jesus’ disciples were being accused of not walking ‘according to the tradition of the elders’ (Mark 7:6). Jesus rebuffs their accusations, accusing them of caring more about their human traditions than about the original commands of God that the traditions were meant to encourage obedience to (Mark 7:8-13).
So what really matters? Jesus quotes the Old Testament to them (vs6-7) which reveals what God wants from every one of us. God wants our hearts not some external compliance that’s not rooted in love for God.
You see, why trumps what! Worship/godliness that’s only skin deep or behaviour that’s not emanating from a heart of worship is not worship at all.
God is after our hearts. What we do does matter, how we live does matter but its the motivation behind the external actions that God really cares about. It’s why we do what we do that matters to God.
This is the difference between religious legalism and the gospel! Tim Keller sums it up when he says;
‘“I obey therefore I am accepted by God” = Religion
“I am accepted by God because of Jesus, therefore I obey” = The Gospel
God freely accepts those who believe in Jesus and accept Jesus’ offer of forgiveness for their sins. God then delights as those saved sons and daughters begin to obey His will for their lives, not because they must, not because they’re trying to be accepted but because they already are accepted by Him, because their hearts have been melted by His love and His mercy and His grace and transformed so that they beat now with a new desire – to please their Father who is in heaven! What results, is the motivation for all true godly behaviour. Why trumps what!
So, gaze again at Jesus! Consider who He is and what He has done for you. Be freshly impacted, amazed at Him and live your whole life as a response to His incredible love for you. What will result is observable godliness rooted in worship, and that pleases God.