We are looking at Jesus’ confrontation with the Pharisees in John 5, just after Christ healed the invalid by the Pool of Bethesda. The Lord said that He is equal to the Father in five different ways. He then spoke of a time when the dead will hear and live, i.e., a time at the moment he was saying these words ("has now come," v. 25), but also at a time that was yet ahead (v. 28):
25I tell you the truth, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live. 26For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son to have life in himself. 27And he has given him authority to judge because he is the Son of Man. 28"Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice 29and come out—those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned. 30By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me. (John 5:17-30).
Why does Jesus mention two separate times? What is the time that has now come (v. 25), and what will happen at the time that is coming? (v. 28).
In verse twenty-five, the dead that Christ mentioned were those around Him that were not yet experiencing the life of God. Without Christ they were in a spiritually dead condition. In verse 28, the future time He spoke about is that of the resurrection when all who are in the grave will come forth. Let’s talk about the resurrection in our meditation tomorrow, and today focus on what he meant by the dead hearing and living, mentioned in verse 25.
The Dead Coming to Life in the Present Age
When I was a child in a British primary school (ages 7-11), I was an atheist, unchurched, and knew nothing about the Christian faith. I remember walking the four or five hundred yards to school. On the way, I used to pass a Salvation Army chapel. Written on a poster to the side of the building were the words, “Are you really alive?” There was no explanation for the statement, and it seemed so ridiculous to me as an eleven-year-old. I had to be alive to read it! What was the point of the statement? To me, it showed how ridiculous Christians could be. When I later became a Christian and began reading the Scriptures, I finally realized that, without receiving new life from the Lord, we are in a condition of being separated from God and spiritually dead in our sins. Writing to the church at Ephesus, Paul the Apostle stated that I was dead when I was following the ways of this world and living for myself:
1As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient (Ephesians 2:1-2).
Now I understood the message of the Salvation Army! A few verses later, the passage states that God had made us alive, whereas before, that inner part of our lives, our spirit, was dead. Paul the apostle wrote:
“because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5made us alive with Christ even when we were deadin transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved… 8For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9not by works, so that no one can boast. (Ephesians 2:5, 8-9).
Notice how this life from God comes to us: it is given as a gift of grace. What does the word grace mean? Grace is a word that means undeserved favor. It means that there is nothing you can do to earn it; it is a gift of life given to you when you believe and trust in the work of Christ on the cross for you and as you. If you have not yet believed and placed your trust in Christ, do it today, don't put it off, for heaven's sake and your sake. Keith Thomas
Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God(John 1:12).
This meditation is a shortened version of the in-depth study: Jesus the Life-Giver.