24 “Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.25 Very truly I tell you, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live. 26 For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself.27 And he has given him authority to judge because he is the Son of Man.
28 “Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice 29 and come out—those who have done what is good will rise to live, and those who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned. 30 By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.
(John 5:24-30 NIV)
Picking up from last time, we are in the middle of Jesus’ discourse to the Jewish religious leaders. The leaders were upset that Jesus healed the lame man on the Sabbath. The Jewish leaders said that healing on the Sabbath was “work” according to their tradition. Jesus knew healing on the Sabbath day was in fact not work but God’s mercy and love which is in effect every day.
Jesus then went on to tell the religious leaders that they had become disconnected from and did not know God, for if they knew God, they would recognize God’s Son, who is Jesus, the one standing before them.
Jesus continues His discourse today with the familiar phrase, “Very truly I tell you…” in verse 24 and again in verse 25. The Jewish religious leaders want to talk about an infraction of their tradition; Jesus wants to talk about eternity.
In verse 24, Jesus says that anyone who listens to and believes in Him will have eternal life and not face judgment in the life to come. In verses 27 and 30, Jesus tells the religious leaders that God the Father has given final judgment to Him (Jesus).
Jesus knows the authority God has given Him both on that day and in eternity to be the judge of all, according to each person’s profession of faith in Him. Jesus offers eternal life to them right then and there if they will hear His words and believe Him.
As we read verses 25-27 and verses 28-30, it may sound like Jesus is repeating Himself. As we look a little closer, we see that these two sections refer to two separate timeframes. Verses 25 – 27 speak of the present, while verses 28-30 refer to the future.
In verses 25 – 27, Jesus is saying that the spiritually dead that are standing all around Him at that very day and time can receive eternal life if they will hear His words and believe He is Messiah. Jesus says they can bypass eternal judgment because He has the power to judge the living and grant eternal life to those who believe.
In verses 28- 30, Jesus is referring to a time in the distant future when He will judge the dead. Jesus is saying that at the end of time, He will call everyone out of the grave and judge each person. Jesus tells the religious leaders that He is a just and impartial judge, seeking not to win the affections of the ones He will judge, but to please the Father.
Do you see what’s going on here? The Jewish religious leaders are judging Jesus’ outward actions (healing the lame man on the Sabbath) according to their human traditions. Jesus is saying, “You, the religious leaders, are judging me today. But in fact, God has made me judge over you, both now as you live, and in the future after you have died and are resurrected from the grave and standing before me in eternity.”
Jesus does not proclaim His authority to rub the religious leaders’ face in it, but, in fact, shows compassion and love and offers them the opportunity to receive new life, eternal life, right then and there.
Jesus’ offer of eternal life stands open to all who will hear and receive Him today, just as His offer stood to those around Him on that day.
Who needs to hear these words of hope and compassion today?
A family member?
If the Lord is prompting you, tugging at your heart, will you take a step of faith and be Jesus’ messenger to bring the Good News of Jesus to that person?