19.  Then Jesus answered 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.

In the remainder of the chapter we see the Lord’s teaching to the Jews in response to their rejection of Him.  He assures them that what He has done on the Sabbath day is right, for He is only doing what He has seen His Father do before Him.  Although this healing may not have squared with what the Jews thought the law commanded, it was just fine in the eyes of the God Who gave the law in the first place.

20.  “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.

From this we see that the Father’s attitude towards the Son is one of love.  This explains for us where love came from.  If God is love, some might argue, how could God have loved before any other being was created?  You cannot love nothing, right?  The answer lies here.  Love has always existed between the Father and the Son.  This was the original love, and all other love comes after it and must be secondary to it.

21.  “For as the Father raises the dead and gives life to them, even so the Son gives life to whom He will.

This shows the equality of the Son to the Father in regards to resurrection.  Both have the power of resurrection life.  And since none but God can have life in themselves, this proves the Lord’s equality with the Father.

“The dead” here is the Greek for “corpses,” and is a proof for bodily resurrection.  Those who cannot believe that we will be resurrected in physical bodies, but who insist on some sort of “spiritual” resurrection, do not really believe in Biblical resurrection at all!

22.  “For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son,

This demonstrates the Father’s attitude towards the Son.  Although He is certainly qualified to judge any whom He chooses, yet He does not judge anyone, but commits all judgment to the Son.  Those pictures common in the Middle Ages showing the Father wrathfully damning sinners to hell and the Son standing by begging for mercy for them are thus proven false.  The Father judges no one.  It is the Son Himself Who is the Judge!

23.  “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.

This shows the Father’s desire that all will honor Jesus Christ just as much as they honor God Himself.  In fact, the second part of the verse tells us that anyone who doesn’t honor the Son doesn’t honor the Father either!  There are many out there who claim to honor God and yet who have no time for the Son.  These will be surprised someday to learn that all the honor they thought they were giving God was rejected. 

This sort of message is terribly unpopular today.  Men wish to believe that all ways to come to God have value, and no one should condemn anyone else just because his way is different.  Yet this verse clearly demonstrates that God does not go along with this New Age philosophy.  Either men honor the Son, or God is not honored at all.  That is the way He views things.

24.  “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him Who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.

Christ promises that faith in His testimony about the Father will result in everlasting or eonian life.  Remember, eonian life is outflowing life, a life that not only flows on and on in perpetuity, but also that flows with every good thing from the hand of God that would make life forever worth living.  Moreover, the one who thus has faith will not come into judgment.  This does not mean that none of his actions will ever be judged, or that his actions can never be considered in winning rewards for himself or choosing his inheritance.  The point here is not that nothing he does can be judged, but that he will never come into judgment regarding whether he will live or die.  He has passed from death into life, and he never need fear the second death again.  Blessed indeed is it to know that we who believe have this assurance!

25.  “Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live.

The Lord reveals a great truth for the future: that the chosen dead will hear His voice, and when they hear it they will live.  How blessed it is to know that our dead loved ones in the Lord will some day hear that voice and live!  This verse informs us that it is the voice of Jesus Christ that will someday wake us from our sleep and give us resurrection life.

Yet this verse contains the phrase, “the hour is coming, and now is.”  I have already expressed my opinion that the three words, “and now is,” are a parenthesis in Christ’s quotation, and are put there by the author John to tell us that the time the Lord was speaking of has come since He spoke these words.  Yet, in this case, does my argument fall?  For surely the dead have not yet heard His voice and lived, some might say!

Yet if we will examine the Scriptures closely, we will find that this is not so.  The dead have indeed already heard His voice and lived!  For in Matthew 27:52-53, we read of an amazing event that took place at the time of His death on the cross.  We read, “And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many.”  So there has already been a resurrection, and just as the Lord said, those who heard His voice lived.

Now some might argue that, since Christ was dead, these dead who were raised in Matthew 27 could not have heard His voice.  Yet we need to realize that Christ will not come and stand within earshot of every dead person and speak so as to raise them.  This voice of the Son of God was another example of what we call “the miracle of the voice.”  They heard His voice miraculously, even though He Himself was dead, and they rose upon hearing it.  What a wondrous truth indeed!

Now I am not saying that there are not resurrections in the future.  Certainly, there are, and certainly they will take place as a result of the dead hearing the voice of the Son of God.  Yet there has already been such a resurrection, and that is why John mentions that the time has already come, and this has already been proved true.  That resurrection, however, was only a foreshadowing of the great resurrection that will take place in the future.

This passage leaves us wondering what happened to these formerly dead people after they had “appeared to many”?  Did they go back to living normal lives on earth?  Did they return to their graves?  Or did they ascend to heaven to remain there ever since?  These questions are not answered in this passage, and we can only speculate.  I would lean towards their resurrections being similar to that of Lazarus, and them returning to their normal lives on earth.  In that case, probably most of these resurrected were recent dead.  Yet there is no way to tell this for certain from the passage.  The Lord simply doesn’t tell us what happened to them next, and we have to leave it at that.

26.  “For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself,

This is another great truth that proves the equality of Christ with God.  The Father is a source of life, and in the same way He granted the Son to be a source of life.  We all receive our lives from God, but only God Himself has the source of life within Him.  Thus again we can clearly see from this passage that Jesus Christ is God.

27.  “and has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man.

Again, the Father gives the Son the authority to execute judgment, not reserving that authority for Himself.  What complete confidence He places in the Son!  And the Lord also reveals why He is given the authority to judge.  It is because He is not only the Son or the Representative of God, but He is also the Son or Representative of Man.  As the Representative of Mankind, He is given the authority to judge mankind.  This is good and right in God’s sight.

28.  “Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice

Notice that, although the Lord uses the phrase, “the hour is coming,” the phrase as we have had it earlier is not completed by “and now is.”  I believe this demonstrates my point that “and now is” was never part of the Lord’s use of this phrase, but was an insertion by the author John to show that the time had now come since the Lord had made this statement.  It was very true in verse 25 that the hour had already come when the dead heard the voice of the Son of God, and those who heard lived.  Yet it was not at all true when John wrote that “all” who are in the graves heard His voice.  In fact, that will not be true until the final resurrection listed in Revelation, when “the dead, small and great” will be raised (Revelation 20:12.)  It is only then that all without exception who are in the graves will be raised.  All the resurrections prior to this only include certain ones of the dead, only “those who hear.”  It is reserved for the far future when “all” will hear.  Yet this resurrection is certain, and will take place.  Those who argue that the wicked will not be raised have to deny the clear truth of this verse.  Someday, all the dead will be raised, even the wicked.  Yet that day has not yet come, so John does not add the parenthesis, “and now is.”

29.  “and come forth—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.

When all hear His voice, all come forth.  This is in contrast to every other resurrection leading up to then, when only “those who hear will live.”  Yet, also in contrast to every previous resurrection, not all those who are raised are raised to blessing.  At this final resurrection, there is a great division.  Some who are raised have done good.  These receive life.  And some who are raised have done evil.  These receive condemnation.  This would make it appear that these are judged by their works, as, indeed, they are.  Do their works save them then?  Of course not!  It is only the blood of Christ that can redeem them from their sins.  Yet whether or not they receive that cleansing blood is based on their actions in this life.  It is applied based on our Lord’s perfect judgment.  And remember, the greatest of all works, to believe on Him Whom God has sent (John 6:29) must certainly be one of the primary works our Lord will look for.  Yet many will never have had such a chance to believe, and thus this resurrection will judge all such based on the works they have done, and, indeed, the faith they have had.

30.  “I can of Myself do nothing.  As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My Own will but the will of the Father Who sent Me.

The Lord assures us that He does not make His judgment of Himself.  His judgment is righteous because it is the judgment of His Father.  He does not judge as He sees fit but as the Father sees fit.  This is the attitude Christ takes in judgment, and is the attitude we should have as well.  All too often we prefer to rely on our own judgment.  Better by far to make our judgments based on what we have learned from God through His Word!

31.  “If I bear witness of Myself, My witness is not true.

The Lord’s statements about Himself were so radical and so overwhelming that certainly if He had been speaking them on His Own His witness would have been untrue.  It was a Biblical principle that there had to be two or three witnesses for any truth to be established (Deuteronomy 19:15.)  Many false christs have arisen and witnessed great things of themselves, yet their witness has always been untrue because it was unconfirmed.

32.  “There is another who bears witness of Me, and I know that the witness which He witnesses of Me is true.

The Lord was not a solo witness to the truth about Himself.  There was another who bore witness of Him, thus establishing His legitimacy.  That other has borne witness to us as well through the record given in this book!

33.  “You have sent to John, and he has borne witness to the truth.

John is the other witness Christ was speaking of.  They had sent (apostello, commissioned) people to go to John, and he had borne witness to them of the truth about Jesus Christ.  Remember, we have read his testimony earlier in this very book.

34.  “Yet I do not receive testimony from man, but I say these things that you may be saved.

Christ here assures them that the testimony of John was not what made up His mind that He was the Messiah.  The Lord did not need to figure this out on His Own.  He was not trying to “find himself” and His mission in life and at last hit upon it when He heard John speak.  The Lord always knew Who He was and what He was to do.  The reason He is appealing to the witness of John is so that those who heard Him could be saved.  They would not believe Christ’s testimony about Himself if He alone gave it, so He appealed to the testimony of John as testifying to Who He was as well.  Thus, with these two witnesses to convince them, these people who heard Him could believe and be saved.  And we who read His words recorded in this book can believe as well.  Remember, that is the purpose of this book!

35.  “He was the burning and shining lamp, and you were willing for a time to rejoice in his light.

This is somewhat of an obscure phrase.  It seems that it was a figure of speech that meant a famous man.  John was indeed a famous man, a light shining in darkness to show men the way to Jesus Christ.  And, as He points out, they had for a time been willing to rejoice in the light John gave.  Yet now they were unwilling to hear Christ, and were rejecting Him and His teaching.

36.  “But I have a greater witness than John’s; for the works which the Father has given Me to finish—the very works that I do—bear witness of Me, that the Father has sent Me.

Now the Lord presents to them a third witness…an even greater witness than John the Baptist.  That witness is the works that He was doing.  Those works were the works that God had given Him to do.  They were the works that the Old Testament had predicted that the Messiah would do.  And those works were miraculous works that could not be faked or copied.  Thus, those works were a testimony to them, a witness that He had surely been sent by God the Father.

37.  “And the Father Himself, Who sent Me, has testified of Me.  You have neither heard His voice at any time, nor seen His form.

Now the Lord goes beyond even the two or three witnesses requirement of Deuteronomy and names a fourth witness in His favor.  That witness is the Father Himself!  He also was a witness that He had sent the Lord to them.  But how was He a witness?  After all, as the Lord points out here, they had not heard His voice at any time, nor had they seen His form.  How then had He witnessed to them?

38.  “But you do not have His word abiding in you, because whom He sent, Him you do not believe.

This verse answers the question of how the Father had been a witness.  It was through His Word!  The Old Testament Scriptures are full of testimony as to the Messiah, what He would do, and what His work would be.  This was the testimony that the Father had given of the Son.  Yet these men did not accept His witness because they did not have His word abiding in them.  If they had, they would have believed the Lord!  Since they did not, it was proof that they did not believe the word of the Father either.

39.  “You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me.

The problem was not that the Jews had not read the Scriptures.  They were very diligent to read them.  As Christ said here, they searched the Scriptures for what would give them eternal (or eonian) life.  Yet those Scriptures they searched contained the testimony of the Father about Jesus Christ!  Thus these men should have known Him and accepted Him.

40.  “But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.

Christ presents Himself as the source of eternal life that these men were searching for.  Yet they were unwilling to come to Him for life.  Though they searched the Scriptures for the answer, they were unwilling to accept the answer that the Scriptures actually gave.  Perhaps they wanted some great work to do, some set of laws to obey, some act of righteousness that they could commit.  When faced with the fact that the source of life is Jesus Christ, however, they were unwilling to accept the truth and receive life through it.  What a sad thing!  I pray that none of my readers will be likewise unwilling to receive the life that only Christ can give.

41.  “I do not receive honor from men.

The Lord does not want them to mistake what He is saying here.  He is not looking for approval from these men, and complaining because He is not receiving it.  The point of His words is to condemn them for their unwillingness to believe Him, not a plea for acceptance to improve His Own image or ego.

42.  “But I know you, that you do not have the love of God in you.

This was the point of what Christ was saying.  He was God, and thus could see these men’s hearts.  Therefore, He knew the truth: that they did not really love God in their hearts.  They may have made a show of it outwardly, but inwardly they had rejected Him just as they now rejected Christ!

43.  “I have come in My Father’s name, and you do not receive Me; if another comes in his own name, him you will receive.

The Lord reveals here that the reason they had rejected Him was BECAUSE He had come from God!  If another had come in his own power and making his own claims, they would have been willing to receive him.  It was because the Lord had come in the authority of the Father that they rejected Him!

44.  “How can you believe, who receive honor from one another, and do not seek the honor that comes from the only God?

To these men, the honor of other men was all-important.  They truly did not care to receive honor from the only God, just from other men!  How twisted their priorities were!  Yet how often do we have the same priorities?  How often do we truly seek the honor of God over the honor of men?  Something for each of us to consider!

45.  “Do not think that I shall accuse you to the Father; there is one who accuses you—Moses, in whom you trust.

Now, Christ is bringing a witness against them to accuse them.  He assures them that He is not the one who is going to accuse them to the Father.  The one who will accuse them is none other than Moses, the great lawgiver of Israel in whom these Jews put so much trust and to whom they gave such honor.  Surely this statement must have been shocking to those who viewed themselves as Moses’ heirs and the faithful keepers of Moses’ law!

46.  “For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me.

The reason Moses will be the one to accuse them is because they trusted in Moses and Moses had written about Jesus Christ.  Thus, by their own claim to serve Moses, they would be condemned by Moses’ words and Moses’ witness about the Lord.

47.  “But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?”

This is the culmination of the Lord’s argument, and the pinnacle of His condemnation of these men who rejected Him.  They refused to believe even Moses, the great lawgiver they claimed to follow and respect.  If they would not even believe his testimony regarding Jesus Christ, how would they ever believe the Lord’s Own testimony?  This was the ultimate condemnation of these men, and after this nothing more needed to be said.  Yet I wonder if we today have really considered these words?  So many refuse to believe what is written in the books of Moses about the Creation, the Flood, and other truths about ancient history.  To such I would put this same question: if you do not believe Moses, how will you believe Jesus Christ?  For Christ and Moses both spoke the same things about the creation of the world.  If you do not believe Moses, you cannot believe Christ either!  What then can be the basis for your faith?  To believe Moses is indeed foundational to our faith in the Bible.  Let us never be guilty of rejecting either his words or the words of our Lord Himself!