We are thinking about the words of Jesus to the Pharisees after the healing of the invalid man at the Pool of Bethesda. In our last two daily devotionals, we have looked at four claims of equality with the Father by Jesus, now let’s look at the fifth and last:
5) Christ is Equal with God in His Honor (John 5:23).
23that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him. 24"I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life (John 5:23-24).
Jesus claimed equality in honor with the Father, saying that, if we do not honor the Son, we do not honor the Father. Those Jews in the presence of Christ that claimed to love God were, instead, opposing Him and were on the side of God's enemy (John 8:44).
Those standing around Christ and listening to His statements of equality with God had three options to believe about Christ, and so do we. The three options are as follows: 1) He was a good teacher, but self-deceived and delusional. 2) He was a deliberate liar. 3) He is as He said, i.e., God in the flesh, come to earth.
1) The first option is that He was deceived, delusional, insane, and mentally ill. It reminds me of the story of the British prime minister, Maggie Thatcher. In her capacity of serving the government, she went to visit a mental hospital to check on the level of health care that the residents were receiving. She introduced herself to one of the patients as the prime minister. Thinking she was a new patient, the man replied, "I understand. Most people when they first arrive here believe they are the prime minister." People who are mentally ill often suffer from a delusion. We would not refer to someone who suffers from delusion as being a good teacher! The common belief that Christ was just a good teacher is out of the question. If He was deceived and deluded, then He was not a good teacher.
2) The second option is that He was a liar and knew it. In which case, He was an evil man and working for Satan to deliberately deceive people. If that was true, what about His many miracles given as signs? How was He able to heal all manner of sicknesses, raise the dead, cast out demons, and create bread out of thin air. If God was not with Him, how could He do all this, along with His power over nature, e.g., controlling the wind and the waves on the Sea of Galilee? (Mark 4:39)
3) The third option is that He really is Who He said He is, i.e., God of very God becoming a man to win our redemption as a man. There are no other options; we must believe one of them. Even the foremost teacher in the country at that time, Nicodemus, said of Christ; “We know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him” (John 3:2). I trust that you have concluded that He is who He says He is.
In verse 24 of the passage at the top of the page, the Lord Jesus quite clearly states the qualifications for receiving an impartation of life from God. It is hearing God's Word and responding to what he believes. An individual that responds to the Gospel has eternal life. It is not something that happens when a person passes from this world, but something that begins in the present time. Believers do not need to fear the judgment, for their sin has already been judged at the cross of Christ. Upon believing, one has crossed over from a condition of death to that of new life (v. 24). Keith Thomas
This meditation is a shortened version of the in-depth study: Jesus the Life-Giver