YES, YOUR HONOR! – John 5:21-23

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In most states in the United States of America the words “Your Honor” are used when addressing the judge in a courtroom.  This has been the practice for many centuries.  Several other countries use those same words as well; other countries use titles such as:  “My Lord”, “My Lady”, “Your Lordship”, “Your Ladyship”, “Judge”, and many other titles of respect and authority.   In Israel, a judge is a shofet, and is addressed with the words “Sir” or “Madam”.  As a general rule, these judges from around the world also wear distinctive robes.  Many of these robes are black, but there are also some very colorful ones.  In some countries the judges also wear wigs.  These robes and wigs are used in order to distinguish them from others in the courtroom, and serve as marks of authority and honor.  Because of their knowledge and experience in the practice of Law, they are worthy of respect and recognition.

In the previous message on John 5:19-20, the Lord Jesus gave two evidences of His deity.  He said that He was equal to the Father in “working” and in “knowing”.  He also shared the relationship of love that He had with the Father; a relationship that only a Son could have.  But the comparisons with the Father, and evidences of His deity aren’t over yet.  In verses 21-23, Jesus claims equality with the Father in resurrecting, in judging, and in honor.  Let’s take a look at each of those claims.

I.  EQUAL IN RESURRECTING (verse 21)

The Lord Jesus has already told them that He is doing the works of the Father, or I should say, that the Father is doing the works through Him.  Now, here in verse 21, to coin a popular phrase, it’s as if Jesus is saying to His accusers, “You ain’t seen nothing yet!”  The following are Jesus’ words to them in verse 21.  “For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom He wishes.”  That statement must have stirred up some angry words from His listeners.  According to the Gospel record, Jesus had not yet raised anyone from the dead.  The Lord Jesus was able to say those words truthfully because He was involved with the Father during the two resurrections in the Old Testament:  the son of the widow of Zarephath through the prophet Elijah in I Kings 17:22, and the Shunamite’s son through the prophet Elisha in II Kings 4:32-35.

Commentator Warren Wiersbe offers this helpful information concerning the Jewish beliefs at that time.

For Jesus to claim to have power to raise the dead was a blasphemous thing in the eyes of the Jewish Leaders; they gave that power to God alone.  They said that Jehovah held the three great keysthe key to open the heavens and give rain (Deuteronomy 28:12); the key to open the womb and give conception (Genesis 30:22); and the key to open the grave
and raise the dead (Ezekiel 37:13).

In the minds of these Jews, what Jesus had just said was blasphemy, claiming to be God.  Later in His life and ministry, Jesus would prove His words to be true by raising the widow’s son in the city of Nain (Luke 7:14-15), Jairus’ daughter (Mark 5:38-42), and Lazarus (John 11:43-44) from the dead.  And most significantly, Jesus would raise Himself from the dead (Matthew 28:6; Mark 16:6-7; Luke 24:7-8; John 20:3-8).  “Even so” – just like the Father raised people from the dead, Jesus did so in like manner, and there were too many eye-witnesses, together with the person who was restored to life, to disprove those events and the resurrecting power of Jesus.   Therefore He must be equal with the Father because only God can give life and restore life.

II.  EQUAL IN JUDGING (John 5:22)

As further proof of His deity, the Lord Jesus says is verse 22, “For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to His Son”  We find the justice of God declared many times in the Old Testament.  For example, in Genesis 18:25, Abraham makes the following statement about God’s justice in his plea to spare the people of Sodom  “Far be it from Thee to do such a thing, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous and the wicked are treated alike.  Far be it from Thee!  Shall not the judge of all the earth do justly?” That’s a good argument!

As Moses sings his song, recounting the things that God has done for the people of Israel, he includes these words about God and His justice in Deuteronomy 32:4, “The Rock!  His work is perfect, for all his ways are just;a God of faithfulness and without injustice, righteous and upright is He.”

I imagine that most of us have come to realize that the justice systems on this earth are not perfect.  Let me give you a personal example I was travelling home from a meeting many years ago and drove my car through several small towns along the way.  Two days later I received a letter from one of those towns.  When I opened the letter I saw a photo of myself driving my car.  Below it was a sizeable ticket and the address where this excessive-speed violation occurred. This was my first and only (so far) photo-radar ticket  I didn’t remember any excessive speeding so I went back to that address the next day and saw no speed limit sign.  Upon closer observation, I noticed a white sign post but the top of it was completely covered by low-hanging branches of a nearby tree.  As I looked under its branches at the reduced speed on the sign and stood back to take another look, a store-owner came out of his store and asked if he could be of assistance.  When I shared my story, he pointed to the top of a pole across the street to show me the camera that took the photo, then he stood back with me and told me that there was no way a person coming down the street could see that sign.  He suggested that I might want to take my case to court, which I did.  After explaining the situation to the judge, there was a short pause and then the judge said “Reduce the amount to (a small reduction)”, hit the desk with the gavel, and said “Next case!”  I paid the remainder.  This was not the justice I was hoping to receive.  Two weeks later, I was driving through that town again and was pleased to see that those low-hanging branches had been removed from the tree, and the sign was now completely visible.. It may have been done at my expense, but at least it was done!

Going back to Jesus’ words stating that the Father had given all judgment into His hands, let’s see if there are any Old Testament Scriptures that attribute the role of judging mankind to the coming Messiah.  If the Jews at that time were spending time reading and studying specific passages of Scripture, it’s very possible that they were reading or studying the prophecies concerning their Messiah.  They were looking forward to His coming and wanted to be ready to recognize Him and worship Him when He arrived on Earth.

The prophet Isaiah speaks about the Messiah’s coming reign.  “And He will judge between the nations, and will render decisions for many peoples.  And they will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks.  Nations will not lift up sword against nation. and never again will they learn war.”   (Isaiah 2:4)  The Jewish people are looking forward to a perfect Judge who will make perfect judgments, and there won’t be the Roman occupation and government anymore.

Isaiah 11 is another Messianic prophecy.  “And He will delight in the fear of the Lord, and He will not judge by what His eyes see, nor make a decision by what His ears hear; but with righteousness He will judge the poor, and decide with fairness for the afflicted of the earth . . . ”  (Isaiah 11:3-4).  The Lord Jesus is the perfect Judge because, as God, He is holy, righteous, all-knowing and just; and as man He is understanding and sympathetic, having experienced poverty and the unfairness and affliction of others while on this earth.  No wonder the Father “has given all judgment to the Son.”

The prophet Micah also affirms Isaiah’s prophecy in Micah 4:3.  The Jewish leaders have those prophecies in their minds yet they fail to recognize and acknowledge the Judge of the whole earth who is standing before them and making that claim.  Even John the Baptist acknowledged that Jesus was going to bring judgment when he used the following analogy:  And His winnowing fork is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean the threshing floor; and he will gather His wheat into His barn, but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” (John 3:12).

III.  EQUAL IN HONOR (John 5:23)

There doesn’t appear to have been any positive response to those claims, so the Lord Jesus makes another claim:  that of being equal in honor with the Father.  That’s a claim that the Lord Jesus should not have needed to make, since it should have been the logical conclusion they should have drawn, and the response they should have given to His previous claims of deity.  He says, “in order that all may honor the Son, even as they honor the Father.  He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.”  The Lord Jesus begins by drawing the application.  He’s telling them that, based on the claims of deity He has already made, they should have responded by showing Him the same “honor” (praise, worship, devotion, obedience) that is due to the Father.  That’s the only valid and proper response that can be given to His claims and the evidence that supports them.

His explanation is followed by a very powerful and convicting statement and conclusion.  “He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.”  The Lord Jesus is saying that it is false and useless to claim to love and worship God if you do not have the same love and worship for Him, because they are two Persons in the same Triune God.  Whoever does not honor and worship the Son does not honor and worship God at all.

CONCLUSION:

I hope that you are taking the claims of Jesus Christ and the evidences supporting those claims seriously.  Your quality of life on this earth and your eternal destiny depend upon it.  The Lord Jesus Christ is worthy of the highest honor:  the honor, praise, worship and obedience that are deserved by God alone. If you are still seeking, and questioning, and pondering, the next passage of Scripture that we will be studying will go much deeper into role of Jesus as Judge of heaven and earth.  I hope to see you there.  May you find Jesus to be the Honorable One who fulfills His words, keeps His promises, and changes lives.

CONSTRUCTION SITE COMPLETED.

 

 

REASONING WITH THE JUDGMENTAL – “Give Your Brethren a Break” – James 4:11-12

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I.  INTRODUCTION

James returns to his fatherly admonitions to the churhes.  He re-introduces  the topic of judging others, but this time in a gentler, reasoning tone.  Instead of chiding them, he begins to urge them and entreat them.  To those who won’t respond to his reprimands, maybe they will respond to his entreaties.

By using the word “brothers”, James is reminding them that they are family.  Not only that, they are “immediate family”, children of the same Heavenly Father through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.  James uses the Greek word “katalaleite”, which literally means “to speak against”.  It can also mean “to slander”, “to revile”, “to gossip”.  “It is not only an expression of arrogance and disregard for one’s brother, it is also a slight to God’s law, and God is the Lawgiver”.  (Theological Dictionary of New Testament Words).

As a child, can you remember hearing the words, “Wait until your father gets home!”  If you can remember hearing those words, you knew what it meant, didn’t you?  It meant that this act of disobedience was serious enough that the chastening was not over yet.  You were going to hear some more about it later from your father, and the punishment might be even more severe!  In a similar way, James is saying, in effect,  “You had better take my advice and make things right so that you might not have to reckon with our Heavenly FATHER about this issue!

The second Greek word, which is found in verses 11 and 12, is “krinon”.  It means to judge others in the sense of condemning them.  A person with such a critical attitude can always find something or someone to criticize, whether their criticism is grounded or not.  What an expression of defiance against God and His Word!  It would be like standing in a courtroom in front of the judge and trying to pass judgment on another person.  The gavel would come down in a hurry.  BAM!!!!!!  “OUT OF ORDER!  I MAKE THE JUDGMENTS IN THIS COURTROOM!”  Do you get the point I am trying to make?  God is our Judge, and we are always in His presence.  When we pass judgment on another believer, we are always “OUT OF ORDER”!  I found the following caption at the bottom of a Daily Bread devotion on the topic of judging others:  “If Jesus didn’t come to condemn the world, that’s probably not our mission either.” 

Do you sometimes have a tendency to criticize others and make judgments about others?  Have you come up with reasons to justify your critical attitude and behavior?  An Our Daily Bread Devotional uses a popular comic strip, “Peanuts”, by Charles Schulz, to illustrate our tendency to justify our criticism of others.

Linus had his security blanket in place and his thumb resting safely in his mouth, but he was troubled.  Turning to Lucy, who was sitting next to him, he asked, “Why are you always so anxious to criticize me?  Her response was typical:  “I just think I have a knack for seeing other people’s faults.”  Exasperated, Linus threw his hands up and asked, “What about your own faults?”  Without hesitation, Lucy explained, “I have a knack for overlooking them.”

We smile, but do we sometimes think that it’s our God-ordained responsibility to dish out negative criticism?  Do we see it as a knack or a “spiritual gift”?  And are we short-sighted when it comes to our own faults?  There are many passages of Scripture, both in the Old Testament and New Testament, that speak against this attitude.  I memorized two passages of Scripture on stewardship of speach to convict me and redirect me when I fall into this attitude and behavior.  They are Proverbs 25:11,12 and Ephesians 4:29.  You may want to look them up if you are not familiar with them.

Slander and negative criticism don’t just affect those we are talking to, or talking about.  There are much more far-reaching consequences.  For example, there may be children or younger Christians who may look up to us as a role model, and who are mimicking our words and actions.  And, of course, there may be non-Christians observing us who might  become turned off to the Gospel of Jesus Christ because of our attitude, words, and actions.  Please consider all these consequences and ask God to change your attitude and enable you confess your sins to one another and become a lover of the brethren in Christ. You will be happier, they will be happier, God will be happier, and unbelievers will be saying, “See how they love one another!”.

Love is a fruit of the Spirit, and a result of being controlled by the Spirit of God.  Are you ready to turn the control of your life over to God, and let Him have His way in your life?  You’ll be glad you did; and so will everybody you know!