Gospel of John Sunday School | Week 16

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Notes on John 5:17-30

Jesus doesn’t say “I am God. I am the same God that you Jews have always worshipped. Just believe!” To a modern-day audience, this would be considered an appropriate claim of divinity. It is clear, but more importantly it is concise. However, how quick are modern-day audiences willing to believe someone who says “just believe” about investments, political promises, or even nutritional information?

Jesus’ words in the second half John 5 are absolutely claims of divinity. He doesn’t say it in some crass or brash manner, but formulates an argument. In fact, the word “answer” in verse 19 implies a formal response. Furthermore, the context of Jesus’ answer was the claim of blasphemy; particularly His claim of being equal with the Father (17). His purpose was never to simply say “I am God” in a vacuum. He was sent to a people who should have been anticipating Him, and His words demonstrated that He was the divine Messiah prophesied throughout the scriptures.

Jesus explains facets of His divinity in the ways such as:

  • Unity in purpose with the Father (19, 30)
  • Authority to judge (22, 24, 29)
  • Power to give life (21, 25, 26)

There is much, much more depth within those verses pertaining to who Jesus is. His argument is structured to be parallel with the Jewish understanding of who God is. There would be no confusion among the hearers that Jesus was making Himself out to be equal with the Father.

Perhaps the most striking portion of this passage is the latter half of verse 23:

He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.

Jesus goes further than claiming equality with God. He expresses how the Son is unified with the Father by citing the exclusivity of honoring the Son in order to honor the Father. To worship God is to worship Jesus. There is no other path, option, or worldview with any validity.

Today this is a scandalous sentiment. To claim exclusivity is intolerant, close-minded, and any other number of politically correct-fueled epithets. Ascribing to the doctrine of solas Christus – Christ alone – is the only way to faithfully read and apply the Bible. Passages like the one above are frequent (“I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me” John 14:6), and demand a Christ-centric faith.

This certainly ought to fuel fervor for evangelism. Within that context, we must be aware that even our nicest, most moral, and devoutly religious neighbors are indeed lost without Jesus. That isn’t our rule or idea – it is His. If we believe Him, we must believe His words.

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