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Life in the Son

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On the day that Jesus healed a lame man by the pool of Bethesda, a great stir rose among the Pharisees who saw this man because Jesus had also asked him to take up his bedding and to carry it with him. In the eyes of the Jews, that violated the Sabbath. And they saw that violation as so strong that they couldn't see that the man, who was carrying that bedding, had been lame for 38 years. If they knew of him, they paid no attention to that. They were more concerned about the Sabbath being violated.

This gave them reason to further persecute Jesus and brings us then to the next encounter with Christ in the following verses in John, chapter 5. And I want us to look today at the verses from 16-23 primarily…and the idea of what it means to have Life in the Son…what that should look like for us as we look at the model Christ gave us and how He modeled it.

The Bible tells us, Peter tells us in his writing, "Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example that you should follow His steps." We often say the life of Christ on earth was, among other things, an example for us so we could model His life, so we might be able to imitate it. And Christ gives us that example today. Jesus' life was a pattern. It was a blueprint. It was a template we were to follow.

Paul, in his last letter to Timothy, when he says, "I also suffer, nevertheless I am not ashamed for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day." He then goes on to say, "Hold fast the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me, in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus."

In other words, when Paul, at the end of his life, says I am not ashamed of the gospel, that I know its power, he then immediately thinks to tell Timothy, "Follow that pattern." The pattern of Christ is where the power is going to be found to enable you to do the great things of God.

You know, it's no coincidence that relationships and proper relationships hold a high value in Scripture. We see this in the marriage relationship, for instance. Marriage is to be honored. It's an ancient institution. A divorce, it says, the Lord hates. Why is that? Because as we see later in Scripture, marriage models a relationship between God and His church, between God and believers.

Well so too the parent relationship, and thus we have commands. Honor your father and mother. We have strict commands about the rebellion of children. In fact, in the Old Testament, in the Old Testament Mosaic Law, we see that a child who rebelled against his parents could be stoned to death for such rebellion. Why is that? Why such extreme measures? Why one of the Ten Commandments devoted to that? Because that relationship is also to model God's relationship with His Son and our relationship with God.

We are called the children of God, and that means He is our Father. And we need to know the proper role, the proper perspective of that relationship if we're to understand what life in the Son is to be all about. And Jesus chooses to use that father/son relationship to explain to the Jews something common to them, to explain to them why He does what He does.

Join with me in John, chapter 5, beginning in the sixteenth verse. John says, "For this reason [because of the healing of this man] the Jews persecuted Jesus, and sought to kill Him, because He had done these things on the Sabbath." The accusation is that you violated the Sabbath. You've worked on the Sabbath.

So Jesus answers that. In verse 17, Jesus answered them, "My Father has been working until now, and I have been working." Jesus' answer is…look to the relationships between children and their father. Now that's not as common as it used to be, but it was well understood in Jesus' day that a son would learn the trade of his father.

He would imitate what his father did. He would become an apprentice in his father's business whether it was agriculture, whether it was carpentry, whatever trade it might be. And the idea being that when he grew he would take over or do the same type of work that his father had done. So he does what his father does.

Jesus says in verse 17, "My Father has been working until now, and so I've been working." In other words, "I'm doing what My Father does." He is saying, “Yes I did work on the Sabbath, but that's because My Father does work on the Sabbath.” Jesus is saying it is no worse for me to heal on the Sabbath than for the Father to send rain on the Sabbath and to grow wheat on the Sabbath. In other words, just because it's the Sabbath, the Father does not stop working; and therefore, I don't stop working because I am imitating My Father.

Well all this did was just add to the charge against Christ in the views of the Pharisees, the views of the religious Jews there. They saw that not only was He violating the Sabbath, but now He's claiming to be equal with God. He's claiming to be the Son of God, making God His Father. Jesus is well aware of this. Jesus chooses His battles.

You know, this man being healed on the Sabbath…that was not the only time Jesus healed on the Sabbath. He chose the Sabbath to do some of the miracles He did in order to point out to them their own violation, their own misunderstanding of what the Sabbath was all about. Jesus said the Sabbath was made for man, to give man rest, to give man a chance to breathe, to stop his work.

Without the institution of the Sabbath, working seven days a week would have been the norm. But Jesus said that He instituted the Sabbath so that man could rest a day. He said Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. But to the Jews, the Sabbath becomes the Sabbath of the Lord and not the Lord of the Sabbath. They see the Sabbath as being really the pinnacle, and not understanding that its purpose was to serve man.

So Jesus would perform miracles on the Sabbath. A woman who had an infirmity for 18 years was healed on the Sabbath. Later on in this gospel, a blind man is going to be healed intentionally on the Sabbath. On the Sabbath Day, when Jesus is in the synagogue, a man with a withered hand is going to be healed in the sight of everyone on the Sabbath.

And the Jews will respond, "Hey, you have six days to heal people. Don't do it on the Sabbath. Perform your miracles some other time." They do not see the miracle because they were so caught up in the superficiality of what they had turned their religion into.

And so Jesus, in responding to their accusations in verse 19, continues the father/son metaphor. And as we look at that this morning, I think we'll see some ideas, some ways of thinking of how we need to live, how we need to take on this persona of being a child of God far more than, I think, a title. It needs to become the way we live.

Look in verse 19 with me. "Then Jesus answered [those charges] and said to them, 'Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner.'"

You know how young children will imitate. That imitation of their parents, sometimes among earthly parents, can be a bad habit that gets formed. But the idea is that the primary vehicle of learning is the parent. And in fact, that is very true. Children are mostly who they are because of their parent or guardian who has raised them. School serves a role. Friends serve a role, and the church serves a role, but the parents are the primary influence and former of the character of the child.

And Jesus is saying, "I'm only doing what My Father does and I don't do anything that My Father doesn't do. The Son can do nothing of Himself." In other words, the Son is dependent on the Father. I wonder if we think of that when we realize we are a child of the Father. When we are a son of Christ, when we are a daughter of Christ, do we live our lives in imitation of God?

Do we realize, do we study, do we look at God, do we read after Him and pray toward Him and talk with Him and get our being in our spiritual life through the Father? Or are we children of rebellion? Are we like those children in the Old Testament who violated that sacred image by disobeying, by being in rebellion to the instruction of the Father?

I think so often, any maybe even more so in our western, independent culture, we see the ideas and the teachings of God as suggestions. We see them not as the parental commands to a dependent child as was given in that culture, but we think, Well, that's one idea among many. I might follow after my Heavenly Father, or I might choose my own path. But life in the Son means that we live in dependence upon God. If we're going to respond to a situation, we respond as the Father would respond.

Now I'm not a big bracelet wearer, but there was a time when the WWJD bracelet was very popular…what would Jesus do? And that is really what is going on here with Christ. He is saying, "I do what the Father does."

Our dependence upon God should really be that every time we come to a temptation, we come to a new friendship, we come to a challenge, we come to a fork in the road in life, we ask, "What would Jesus do? What would my Heavenly Father do? Because that is what I want to do."

So Jesus goes on in verse 20, and He gives His motivation. He says, "For the Father loves the Son. Maybe that's why some don't imitate their fathers. Sadly, it's because there is no love from the father. There has been a lot of selfishness, maybe even abuse, possibly neglect. It may be that the earthly model is a difficult one for you to adopt because your own experience of that is not pleasant.

But I want to tell you that with your Heavenly Father, the commands He gives you, the example He sets for you, is all based in love. Oh, what a great model He is! I've realized that no earthly father can be like the Heavenly Father, but we are to imitate.

And we, as children, cannot be as obedient as Christ was, but we are to imitate. Paul says, in 1 Corinthians 2:16, "Who can know the mind of God? But we have the mind of Christ." We are to imitate Christ. We are to follow after Him.

He would tell the Philippians in Philippians 2:5, "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus." So although we can't live perfectly as Jesus lived, we get no slack when it comes to Scripture. We are to imitate our Father. We are to imitate Christ. We are to follow after His example. And the motivation is that God loves us.

Jesus said, "For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself does; and He will show Him greater works than these, that you may marvel." I healed that man because the Father showed Me to do that. And I'll do even a greater work than that so you can marvel at what the Father can do.

A father shows a child how to ride a bike, throw a football, use a drill, do math, or learn a trade. And there is great pride and accomplishment in seeing that child develop whatever that skill is…learn to bake, learn to design. Whatever it might be that is being passed along, there is great joy because the father so loves his child that he loves to see his child learning and growing.

And Jesus says here that He shows Him, the Father shows Him, all things that He Himself does. And He will show Him even greater things that others can marvel. Verse 21, "For as the Father raises the dead and gives life to them, even so the Son gives life to whom He will." There is a greater marvel. It's one thing to raise a man off the floor of his iniquity and to put him on his feet, but what about one who has already died?

Jesus is speaking on two levels here. Indeed in the encounter in John, when we get to the grave of Lazarus, we're going to see Jesus do what the Father has given Him permission to do. He is going to raise the dead back to life. But Jesus is also speaking to the Pharisees here.

Listen, life in the Son means you have to have life. It begins with life. The Scripture is very clear that without Jesus, we are dead. Notice what He says here, "Even so the Son gives life to whom He will." And not only physical life, but spiritual life is at play here. And if we are to have a life in the Son, it begins by surrendering ourselves to Christ and the Holy Spirit of God coming to quicken our hearts, to quicken our dead spirit, and to give us life.

You cannot know the purpose and plan of God the Father unless you become His child through birth. Jesus told Nicodemus, "You must be born again." And only Christ can give life. Only God can bring that life to that dead soul.

And so part of having life in the Son is that it begins with eternal life. It begins with salvation. It begins with accepting Christ as your Savior and becoming His son, becoming His daughter, becoming His child spiritually.

And so Jesus says, "Just as the Father raises the dead, He has given the Son the ability to do that. And that I will to whomever He will." And who will He? Well we see that back in John 3:16…whosoever…whosoever believes. Whosoever believes Jesus gives the right to be called the children of God, John 1 tells us. To whoever believes in the Son becomes, Himself, a child of God.

And Jesus then, in explaining this fatherson relationship, then carries it to one more level. In verse 22, He says, "For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son."/ Oh, how blasphemous this is if it isn't true. It's not God the Father who sits on the great, white throne in judgment, but it is God the Son. It's not God the Father who brings about the judgment upon the world in the end times that we know of in the book of Revelation, it is at the command of the Son.

This Jesus, this carpenter's Son, this Philosopher, this Healer, this Great Speaker, is actually your Judge. He is your King. He is your Sovereign. He is to be worshiped. He is to be honored. He has given His Son authority…authority and responsibility. And so has Christ given you and me authority and responsibility, a commission, a responsibility.

It is not the heavens who are crying out the plan of salvation. It is the people of God, the children of God. It is a great and marvelous thing to share the gospel with someone, to see them mull that over, realize their own sin, and receive Christ as Savior. It is a miracle. It is a wonderful thing that takes place. It is the power of God.

And my friends, worthy or not, God has given you the authority to do that. He has given you the responsibility to bring the message to your neighbors, to your family, to those at school.

And if we're to be people who live life in the Son, we will take that judgment, that authority seriously. And we will live with the responsibility Jesus lived. We will assume the duties Jesus has given us just as He assumed the duties the Father gave Him.

Just as any father will, perhaps at one time, give their child the keys to their home, the keys to their business, to take over the responsibilities of things, so too that relationship goes with us. We can't just be members of God's Church and expect God to do all the work. We can't just be members of God's Kingdom and expect the Kingdom to grow without our involvement.

The Scripture says we're to be the soldiers in the kingdom. We're to be the workers in the kingdom. And the Son assumes that responsibility, and as His children, we assume that responsibility. And we need to do so.

Twenty two again, "For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son, that all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him."

The proper relationship of the child, and I realize it's one that's maybe not often lived today, is to bring honor to the family. It's to bring honor to the name, to bring honor to the parent, to live an honorable life because when the child lives an honorable life, it bring honor to the parent. When the child lives a disobedient life, it brings dishonor to the family.

And so He says that all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father. Jesus says, "I'm going to live an honorable life because when I live an honorable life, it brings honor to the Father." And when you live a Christ-honoring life, whatever honor you may get is really honor to Christ. When you properly acknowledge Jesus in the successes of your life, you're bringing glory to Him.

Even as you receive the award, it is Christ who is getting the award. As you are getting recognition, it is Christ who is getting recognition. The proper way to live is to realize that you bear a family name, and it is the name of Christ and to live your life to bring honor to Him. Jesus said, "He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him."

Jesus would later tell His disciples, "You're going to go out and there are going to be those who don't like you. They're going to arrest you. Some of you will be killed, but I want you to know, it's not you they hate, it's Me they hate."

And you know when we chose a life that honors Christ, there will be those who don't respect that. It's not an automatic that people are going to love you when you choose to love and live for the Lord, but what you can know, without a doubt, is when you choose to live a life as an obedient, dependent child of the Father...imitating the Father, choosing the Father's decisions and directions in everything you do, honoring Him with your life, honoring Him with your words, honoring Him with your speech...that if they then choose to dishonor you, if they choose to rebel against you, if they choose to discredit you, it's not you, but it's God they're discrediting. It's God they're dishonoring. It's God they're rebelling against. And you have still done your duty. You've still done your role.

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