Man I started this post over a week ago and I’m just now getting back to finish it. I’m constantly amazed by how time gets lost and things just get pushed to the back burner.

19 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise. 20 For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing. And greater works than these will he show him, so that you may marvel. 21 For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will. 22 The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, 23 that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him. 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.

25 “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. 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 execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man. 28 Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice 29 and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.

30 “I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me. 31 If I alone bear witness about myself, my testimony is not deemed true. 32 There is another who bears witness about me, and I know that the testimony that he bears about me is true. 33 You sent to John, and he has borne witness to the truth. 34 Not that the testimony that I receive is from man, but I say these things so that you may be saved. 35 He was a burning and shining lamp, and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light. 36 But the testimony that I have is greater than that of John. For the works that the Father has given me to accomplish, the very works that I am doing, bear witness about me that the Father has sent me. 37 And the Father who sent me has himself borne witness about me. His voice you have never heard, his form you have never seen, 38 and you do not have his word abiding in you, for you do not believe the one whom he has sent.

39 You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life. 41 I do not receive glory from people. 42 But I know that you do not have the love of God within you. 43 I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not receive me. If another comes in his own name, you will receive him. 44 How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?

45 Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father. There is one who accuses you: Moses, on whom you have set your hope. 46 If you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me. 47 But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?”

So what do we make of this amazing discourse? On the one hand it contains probably the most concise statement of the gospel by Jesus in verse 24. At the same time the entire passage is one of the most complex and meaty statements made by Jesus at one time. Let’s take things a little bit slowly because Jesus is doing some stuff here that is mind boggling and paradoxical all at once.

Jesus begins by making some claims about his own divinity – by equating his work with the work of the Father. This is a pretty bold claim in itself, but Jesus goes on. In verse 21, Jesus gets pretty specific about what the Father’s work entails – giving life. In the same way that the Father raises the dead and gives life so does Jesus. John is doing something interesting here because up to this point in his gospel he has not mentioned anything about Jesus’ death. Perhaps this is a clever use of foreshadow about Lazarus’ death and resurrection and ultimately his own.

For the sake of keeping this as short as possible, I’m going to just spend some time with verses 23-30 and try to trace Jesus’ train of thought through these verses. In verse 22-24 indicates that there is a very real and cohesive connection between judgment and death. The connection could be described like this – judgment leads to death (it is not death in itself – it leads to death) and if you have eternal life you miss out on judgment (b/c judgment inevitably leads to death). Jesus says here that faith in him leads away from judgment to eternal life. He underwent judgment and death so that those who believe in him might have life.

Now here is the real paradox – Jesus says in vs. 24 that it is those who hear and believe who receive eternal life. The paradox is evident in verse 25 when Jesus describes who it is that hear – the dead! So here’s the paradox – judgment leads to death, but it is the dead who hear and believe? What the heck is he saying? How can dead men hear? How can dead men (who have undergone judgment leading to their death) hear and believe therefore reversing their judgment and death?

How do we make sense of this? First of all, Jesus is trying to make the point that everyone is dead. How do I know this? Two reasons – first of all, vs. 25 and 28 talk about dead people being the ones that hear. Vs. 25 and 29 both indicate that those who hear receive resurrection (and resurrection is only possible for someone who is already dead). Verse 29 clearly indicates that all people will be resurrected – it is just a matter of whether you receive a resurrection of life; or a resurrection of judgment (death).

There’s a lot more that we could get into between verses 30-46, but for the sake of keeping this short, let me summarize the gospel from this passage…Jesus underwent judgment and death and because the judge decided that he had done good (v. 29) he obtained the resurrection of life. As a result he has given this same gift to those who come to Jesus vs. 40. Jesus indicts them for thinking that it is through knowledge or obedience to the Scriptures (i.e. the Old Testament) that gives someone eternal life. Isn’t that interesting? He chides them for looking for life in their pursuit of the Scriptures. Life is indeed found in the Scriptures, but only as they point to Jesus. It is only as we come to Jesus that we have life.

It isn’t about doctrine. It isn’t about having our theological ducks in a row. We can have all those things and still miss out on life. It’s about coming to Jesus. Finding our life in him, hearing his word and clinging to him more and more. Jesus is the real deal – the one Moses wrote about – the one who validates his own words by his actions.

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