Last month I was able to preach three sermons out of John 5 with rich material left untouched. It begins with Jesus healing a paralyzed man, then Jesus explains his authority and relationship with the Father, then Jesus explains his witnesses that corroborate his claims of who he is. Even though I will squeeze out three sermons from this chapter there is still material I will not have touched, particularly Jesus’ comments on life and judgment. Here is his words and notice those themes,
[Jhn 5:21-29 ESV] 21 For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will. 22 For the Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, 23 that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him. 24 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life. 25 “Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. 26 For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. 27 And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man. 28 Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice 29 and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.
Personally, the two themes of life and judgment are not related in my mind. The connection made between the two struck me as odd as I read it lately. So, I have been reading it over and meditating on it. Through my meditation I feel I have a better understanding now (actually the credit goes to God’s Spirit, Eph 1:17, 1Jn 2:27).
How do you imagine Judgment? Do you imagine that scene as God with a clipboard looking over your files, looking you up and down to see if you are “good enough” to get into Heaven. If you are found not “good enough” then a trapdoor opens beneath you and you fall down into eternal flames. While I know that is not the case, I understand many people have that kind of imagining of the Judgement scene, but after reading the words of Jesus I have a new imagining of the Judgment scene.
What does judgment have to do with life? (I believe verse 24 is key to the connection.) The “judgment” by Jesus is not an examination to see if you are “good enough”; Jesus will be judging if you are dead or alive, if you have life. Jesus is the source of life, he gives life, and he examines us to see if we have life or not. If someone “does good” (v29), hears Jesus’ words, and believes God (v24), they have life. They will die and then be resurrected to life. Those who have not done so, have no life and so, they are dead.
When Jesus judges you, he will not be examining your life’s works–he will be seeing if you have life. The judgment scene in my imagination is not a judge of a courtroom or a picky examiner with a clipboard, I imagine a doctor coming to the scene of a person, checking his vitals, and determining if the person is alive. On that Day, Jesus, like a doctor, will put his fingers to your neck to check your spiritual pulse.
Judgment is not about if you are “good enough” or if you have done enough “good deeds.” No, judgment is the question, do you have life? This passage makes it clear, if you have the Son, you have life because the Son has life. Check your spiritual pulse, ask yourself, “Do I have life? Do I have the Son?”
“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.”