Equality with God – John 5:19-36

This message is a part of our series on the Gospel of John.
Find the rest of the messages in this series here.

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Today’s passage is all about Jesus authority, and I need to be up front with you that I really struggled with authority when I was younger. I constantly got into trouble in Junior High and High School because of my issues with authority.

Then again in college I struggled with authority and got myself into so much trouble that the college asked me to leave.

In both cases I was convinced I was right. It wasn’t a matter of rebellion for rebellion’s sake, but I was convinced that I was right and they were wrong.

If I’m honest, when I look back at those seasons of my life, I recognize that my spirit and approach were wrong, but I still think I was technically right…

What brought me under the authority of my teachers and administrators was not the punishment they were doling out, but rather it was a personal submission to the authority of God in my life. There was a Sunday at church, I can still remember it now 20+ years later, there was a Sunday at church that I was just blown away by the glory of Christ.

That changed what the detentions, suspensions, and parent-teacher conferences could not change. It changed by heart.

Today, I hope that as we look at the authority of Christ in this passage, it will shift something in your heart, that you’ll desire to submit to Jesus, to follow Him, to let Him lead.

When we left off in the middle of John 5, Jesus had just healed a man on the Sabbath. It wasn’t on accident, he knew what he was doing and he had setup this showdown with the Pharisees.

The passage tells us that they wanted to kill Jesus for doing these works on the Sabbath day.

Jesus says to them, well my Father is able to work on the Sabbath, so I can too…

This made the Jewish leaders his the roof and verse 18 tells us that they understood Jesus was making Himself equal with God.

Then Jesus launches into this response that doubles down on that- Jesus says He’s not just equal with God, He is God.

Read John 5:19-24

It’s July 14th which means it’s still fireworks season in Chandler. In Chandler fireworks season lasts from June 1st to Labor Day.

We’ve even rubbed off on Newburgh because this year they’re doing their July 4th fireworks on August 31st!

The fireworks that people shoot off in their backyard kind of go along the summer- they can’t fire them off in stages or in succession.

When you go to see Fireworks at a show, they build. They try to have a grand finale. When you’re watching the show you know the finale is coming- you know there will be a big display at the end.

In verse 20, Jesus says to the people that God has showed great things to and through Jesus and that we might marvel.

The word literally means to be amazed by, to have admiration for, and to wonder at…

The works of Christ should be something that we look at and be moved by…

I got to spend a day at Virginia Beach… For me, even though I’ve been to the ocean and on the ocean many times, it’s still amazing how large it is…

I’ve heard people say the same thing about places like the grand canyon…

When we look at Christ, there’s no shortage of power and majesty to marvel at.

To make it clear that Jesus is not merely divine, but He is quite literally God, He makes it clear that He and the Father have a perfect unity of will.

Jesus says in verse 19, the son can do nothing of Himself, but only what He sees the Father doing, but to make sure we don’t get the idea that the Son is limited here, He tells us that the Father shows Him all things.

I told you last week that Nicole and I are close, but we are not the same person- so we disagree. We don’t know what the other is thinking. We can’t read each other’s minds.

Jesus is saying that with He and the Father there is an independence because they are distinct, but there is a dependence because they do all things in concert.

Then Jesus tells us of 2 important areas of authority that the Father has given to the Son- two places that are under Jesus’ jurisdiction: Life/Death, Judgement.

21 For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom he will.

22 For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son:

Are you familiar with Venn diagrams?

I know it’s summer and no one told you there’d be math in this sermon, but track with me for a second here.

I literally just did a google image search for a Venn diagram and I got this one that shows the overlap of Dogs and Cats.

So there would be some things that are true of dogs that aren’t true of cats. Some things that are true of cats that aren’t true of dogs.

Then some things that are true of both, where there’s some overlap.

They are both pets…

They both have four legs…

They both have fur…

Then there are some things that are only true of cats-

I’m allergic to them.

They go to the bathroom in a box in your house…

They’re evil.

Then there are some things that are only true of dogs-

They obey.

They’re loyal.

Ok, so that’s a Venn Diagram.

Jesus has given us 2 specific places he has authority over as a demonstration that He is God, but then he makes an application in the overlap.

If he has authority over life and judgement, so in the overlap there’s this really important application for us.


Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.

I wanted us to sing How Can It Be today for this reason- this answers the question of that song…

Though I fall, You can make me new

From this death I will rise with You

Oh the grace reaching out for me

How can it be

How can it be

You plead my cause

You right my wrongs

You break my chains

You overcome

You gave Your life

To give me mine

You say that I am free

How can it be

How can it be

Bureaucracy is maddening… The authority is divided up among people who aren’t on the same page…

Reserving the park…

Dictators are very effective. But we don’t want anyone to have that kind of power.

Now, the claims that Jesus have made here are huge.

This is big. You can’t hear this and think that Jesus is just a decent guy. He’s not a good dude.

If Jesus is making these claims and they aren’t true, he’s delusional or he’s a conman. If they are true then He’s the Lord of all.

Liar, Lunatic, or Lord.

“Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and, if true, of infinite importance. The one thing it cannot be is moderately important.”

– C. S. Lewis

He says in verse 31


If I bear witness of myself, my witness is not true.

Jesus says, listen if my only evidence of being Jesus it that I say so, that’s crazy. You shouldn’t believe me if that’s all that there is to go on…

The prophets of the Old Testament had to prove their prophetic voice so they would give prophecies that came to fruition in the short term and the long term. You could trust their long term prophecies because the short term had come true.

Jesus makes His case with 4 witnesses.

Witness 1: Holy Spirit

32 There is another that beareth witness of me; and I know that the witness which he witnesseth of me is true.

This one is a little enigmatic and that’s because Jesus would later give a more robust and full teaching on the Holy Spirit later on. John records this teaching in chapter 14-16, and I’m really excited for us to get there and look at that and talk about the Holy Spirit.

The Spirit is the one who bears witness within our hearts… It’s for that reason that I often pray that God will meet with us and that while you hear me speak you’d hear the Spirit speak to your heart.

Witness 2: John the Baptist

33 Ye sent unto John, and he bare witness unto the truth.

34 But I receive not testimony from man: but these things I say, that ye might be saved.

35 He was a burning and a shining light: and ye were willing for a season to rejoice in his light.

Jesus presents John the Baptist as a witness and he says, I don’t receive my testimony from man, but you do.

In other words, God doesn’t know anything because a man told Him. He already knew it. On Jesus level this is not convincing testimony because John is merely a man, however Jesus knows that it will be convincing to some of those that are listening.

One of the most convincing testimonies that a person might hear is YOUR testimony.

We call your story of salvation your testimony for this reason, because it bears witness of God.

It’s not true because you say it is, but your word carries a lot of weight with some people.

Witness 3: Miracles

36 But I have greater witness than that of John: for the works which the Father hath given me to finish, the same works that I do, bear witness of me, that the Father hath sent me.

Jesus connects the Father to these last 2 witnesses. It’s the Father’s work that Jesus is doing in these miracles.

D. A. Carson makes an excellent point about Jesus’ miracles. They weren’t performed to impress people. He said something along the lines of the fact that Jesus was not a 2 but magician who lived for the reaction of the crowds. Instead, he performed miracles out of compassion and as evidence of His nature.

Jesus could have made people disappear. He could have lifted big heavy things in the air…

Jesus actually tempts Jesus to do something like this by jumping off the pinnacle of the temple to prove his power…

Jesus didn’t act out insecurity.

Witness 4: Scripture

39 Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.

40 And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.

Jesus says, you search the scriptures because you think that there you will gain eternal life…

The scriptures are a source of life, but only because they connect us to Jesus. If we miss Jesus, we miss the life.

You can know a lot about the Bible and not know Jesus.

The Bible is all about Jesus.