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(John 5:19–47) Motives for Murder

(John 5:19–47) Motives for Murder

by Stephen Davey
Series: Sermons in John
Ref: John 5:19–47

Those who claim Jesus' message was all about love and kindness have never read John 5:19-47. In this chapter Jesus exposes the hearts of the Pharisees and proclaims to them how deceptive and wicked their self-righteousness is to God. No wonder people today keep sugar-coating His message. It exposes our hearts too!


Motives For Murder

John 5:19-47

I want to begin with a personal testimony of how I grew to appreciate my wife more than I ever have before.

Her birthday was last Friday.  I decided to surprise her with an airplane ticket to her home in Atlanta where she and the baby could spend a week of rest and relaxation with her mother.  Sure I'd have three kids to watch but, they'd be in school all day and I'd come into the office and catch up on a myriad of details, go home early to be there when they got home. . .I can do that!  Besides, I wasn't going to be preaching today because we were going to Virginia to celebrate our long overdue Christmas with all of my family.   What a perfect plan.

Marsha flew out Friday.  On Sunday night my daughter came into the office and said, "Daddy, my back itches will you scratch it."  She pulled up her shirt and her back was covered with chicken she called it, chicken pops.    I took a good look at my other two children and sure enough, one of the twins had chicken pops too.

So now I'm home all day with two sick children and it happens to be the coldest week in ten years which meant my two sick kids wanted to nothing more than lay around in their warm pajamas and argue with each other.

Is it bad'd help me if you just went, Awwwwwwwww!

The worst part was cooking for them...I was desperate for ideas -I'd cooked all the tuna helper, I'd run out of macaroni and I know you some of you called for help, but, I can do this.  The climax was Thursday night. The night before Marsha returned.  For supper I looked into the refrigerator...nothing spoke to me; then I spied the carton of eggs - so I scrambled about ten eggs and even threw some cheese in the skillet.  I put the eggs on paper plates - by now I was sick of dishes - and one of my sons said, "What's this?"  I said, "It's a special egg souffle dish with seasoning and cheese"  My daughter said, "Is this it?"  I said, "No, I have brown and serve rolls coming".  One of my sons wouldn't eat daughter gagged on them.  My other son ate all his...he's my favorite child now.

When I picked up my wife from the airport I gave her a long hug...I told her, never ever let anybody tell you that being a homemaker is anything less than the most important occupation on planet earth.  Pastoring a church this size is a piece of cake - keeping house with sick children, cooking meals, doing homework, laundry and dishes is an impossibility. 

So yesterday, I came to my office for a long day of study; I normally have my sermons finished by Friday afternoon.  The only thing I was able to finish was my research. I told my wife that I needed inspiration...I got to the office and under the door someone had slipped a brown envelope.  It was addressed from "a member of your flock".  I thought, "Oh no, anonymous mail...that's not the inspiration I was thinking off".  But then I noticed it was addressed to "Pastor Sweet Pea Davey".  I thought, "Oh no, not another can of peas."  I opened the large envelope and a note was inside that read, "God bless you and your family"  and inside was a King size chocolate candy bar, and a $50 dollar bill.

My wife is back home, I have a candy bar to snack on and a fifty dollar bill.  The past week has been almost forgotten.

Moral of the story - every husband ought to do this once in his lifetime.

And we pick up our exposition of John's gospel at chapter 5.  The man whom Jesus healed has just left the temple and the official persecution of Jesus is finally brought out into the open - their verdict?  Jesus must die.  WHY?

verse. 18  For this cause therefore the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because He not only was breaking the Sabbath, but also



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was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God.

Remember the purpose statement of John as he wrote this Gospel was to declare and reveal the deity of Jesus Christ.  And so he selected 7 miracles and 7 discourses that reveal through Jesus' words and works that he was undeniably the God the Son.

And did the nation of Jews get it - did they miss the point.  Absolutely not - in fact every cultist today must stumble over John's gospel; every Jehovah's witness, every mormon, for the nation of Jews understood clearly the implications_

            18b.  He was calling God his own Father, making Himself equal with God.

There isn't any doubt - Jesus was making himself perfectly clear!

The nation, as prosecutor, claims that Jesus is making himself equal with God, a claim that is punishable by death.

Now the interesting thing is that Jesus goes on, seemingly uninvited, to give a speech/discourse that agrees with the prosecution!

"Yes" Jesus declares, "I am equal with God".

And he presents three ways in which he is equal with God:

First of all, Jesus claims equality in power

He starts back in verse 17.  "My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working."  skip to verse 19.  Jesus therefore answered and was saying to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for



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whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner."

Now what does this really mean.  Does it mean that Jesus is inferior to the Father, or that he can only imitate what He sees the Father doing?  Some have imagined that Jesus is saying, "I have less power than the Father". 

Here's the point.  Jesus is not stating his inferiority to the Father, he is declaring His unity with the Father.  He is saying, "It is impossible for the Son to act apart from the Father."

We talk about Jesus giving up the independent use of His divine attributes while he was on earth.  That's well and good; however, it might lead to the erroneous belief that Jesus prior to and after coming to earth acts independently of the Father and the Spirit.  That will never happen.  There is perfect unity between the three persons of the Godhead. They never act without a unanimous vote.

The truth is, the Father will never do anything without the Son, nor will the Son act without the Spirit nor will the Spirit act without the Father and Son. 

In other words, whatever the Spirit does, He does with the agreement and fellowship of the Son and the Father; whatever the Son does, He does with the total agreement and fellowship of the Spirit and the Father, and so on.

The analogy is certainly weak but you might consider the activity of a corporate board made up of three men.  Suppose one man is chosen to be the spokesman.  He speaks in behalf of the board.  That doesn't mean that the other two men don't know how to talk - they never got into the hooked on phonics program.  No, it just means that one man has been selected to play the role of spokesman.   That is the role of Jesus - he is the Word/ the spokesman of the triune God.


Let's say another man on this three man board writes all the material for the press.  He's the man who helps the outside world understand the decisions of the board.  That doesn't mean the other two men can't write - it just means that his role is to inspire understanding by the things he writes.  That's the role of the Holy Spirit - he inspired men to write the Scriptures so that we can understand what the corporate board of divinity has in mind.

Imagine as well one of the men being the chairman of the board -the decisions of he board are cast in terms of the will of the chairman - that's the role of the Father.

Now we tend to talk of the first person of the Godhead - the Father, the second person - Jesus and the third person - the Spirit.  That can help theologians as they articulate the functions of the Godhead.  Problem is, we interpret that in our American minds this way - We have three people, equally divine, running this race. The Father comes in first place; the Son is in second place in importance and the Spirit, bless his heart, comes in last. 

The truth is, Scripture nowhere makes that distinction.  It isn't three people running a race, it's a corporate board acting within their own divinely predetermined functions:

            They are coequal and coeternal.

            They are God who is the Father.

            God who is the Son.

            God who is the Spirit.

verse 20.  For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself is doing; and greater works than these will He show Him,





that you may marvel.

And what are these marvelous works.  Well, for starters, go back to the beginning - "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth."

The creation of life and order out of nothing!  Colossians informs us that it was Christ who was the primary agent in creation and that even to this day, "In him the worlds are held together".

(Col 1:17)

You've probably read that the Hubble space telescope has been repaired.  With it's new wide-field camera, it can see 12 billion light-years away.  What are we looking for?

Newsweek summed up the quest, "Radiation from so far away, and hence so long ago, should carry messages about the universe's childhood and shed light on how the cosmos began and grew."

Like an adoptive child who with great intensity hunts for his biological parent, so humanity with even greater intensity is still searching for it's true parent.

Humanity has an inborn desire to know "Out of whose womb did we come; who gave birth to the universe?  "Where did we come from?

More and more, the discovery of the universe is pointing to a designer.

Tony Rothman, a theoretical physicist, wrote, "When confronted with the order and beauty of the universe and the strange coincidences of nature, it's very tempting to take the leap of faith from science into religion.  I am sure many physicists want to.  I only wish they would admit it."

One such writer comes close to admitting it -


Astronomer George Greenstein in his book "The Symbiotic Universe" wrote, "As we survey all the evidence, the thought insistently arises that some supernatural agency must be involved.  Is it possible that suddenly, without intending to, we have stumbled upon scientific proof of the existence of a Supreme Being?  Was it God who stepped in and so providentially crafted the cosmos for our benefit?"

The order and beauty of the universe points to a creator - the scriptures explain that the creator is Christ.

To deny the witness of Christ, is to deny the witness of creation.

Notice v. 21.  For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son also gives life to whom He wishes.

The universe was created out of nothing, so another marvelous work of Christ is the power to resurrect - that is re-create life out of death.

Even the Rabbis taught that only God had the power to bring the dead to life.

Creation - life out of nothing  Resurrection - life out of death

These are the powers of Christ - he is indeed equal to God.

Jesus not claims equality in power but ...

!Jesus claims equality in position

v. 22. For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son  (skip to verse 27.  And he gave Him authority to execute judgment, because He is the Son of Man.

28.  Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs shall hear His voice,

29.  And shall come forth; those who did the good to a resurrection of


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life, those who committed the evil to a resurrection of judgment.

The nation of Jews believed and taught that only God could judge a man for his sins.

Now just what is this resurrection of judgment?   Well, we learn in Revelation 20 that there are two resurrections which we don't have time to discuss this morning. 

The two mentioned by Jesus are actually separated by 1,000 years. 

But focus with me on the second resurrection that is explained in Revelation 20:11.  Just listen - It refers to all those who rejected the testimony of the Messiah and refused to receive Christ as Savior.  It's known as the Great white throne judgment.  No believer will be there.

And I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them.

12.  And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne and books were opened, and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds.  13.  And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds.  14.  And death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire.  This is the second death, the lake of fire.

How do we know who is sitting on this great white throne?  John 5:22 and 27 tells us it will be the Son of God.

Go back to John 5 and notice the basis for his right to sit on that throne 27.  And He gave Him authority to execute judgment, because



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He is the Son of MAN!

I imagine there would be millions there who could say, "God, how can you judge me - you're perfect and holy - you've never walked in my shoes - you've never had my struggles."

But notice who the judge is - it is the God-man.  The one who was tempted in all points - who suffered the degradation of humanity - who felt the lure of power and fame - one who can indeed feel a million times over all that you have felt.

The one who came as a Messiah to save all those who place their faith in Him - now he is judge - to condemn forever all who have rejected the witness of creation and the witness of Christ.


So Jesus has claimed equality with deity in power and position:

!Jesus claims equality in receiving praise   (v. 23-29)

            23.  In order that all may honor the Son, even as they honor the Father.  he who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.  Four times in this verse the greek verb timao appears -to esteem, to honor.

No mortal man would ever dare suggest that he is worthy of the same honor as God the Father unless he was equally God.

And since Christ is, it is impossible to honor God the Father without honoring the Son. 

When Thomas fully realized the resurrected living Lord was indeed standing before him, he fells to his knees and declared, "My Lord and my God."

Jesus should have shushed him up - or corrected him . . . but no!  He accepts Thomas's worship.

Jesus is equally deserving of praise.


Now if you called up my home and said to my wife, "Marsha, we're having a few couples over for dinner and we'd like you to come."  She'd say, "Well I'll talk to Stephen and we'll see if we can come."  You say, "Oh we don't want Stephen to come - after last Sunday's bad sermon, we don't like him anymore - we just want you to come."  You know what my wife would say, "No thanks; if he's not welcome, I'm not welcome...besides, I've never heard him preach a bad sermon..."  Okay, I'm stretching the truth.

Or what if you got a call from a neighbor who said, "Hey I've got tickets to the superbowl in Atlanta for both our families - imagine that - tickets to the  superbowl - that'll be the game where the Kansas City Chiefs beat the Dallas Cowboys.  I've got tickets for everyone in your family except your son...we really don't want him around.  You want to go?"  You'd say, "Not a chance."

Can you imagine the Father - receiving praise from someone who ignores His Son?  Not a chance!

You see, to honor the Father is to honor the son - for he is equally deserving of praise.

What did we just sing a few moments ago -


We're going to sing that again in just a moment, but first, let me summarize the 6 witness Jesus calls to the witness stand to speak in his behalf.

The first witness is Jesus own words

31. Jesus said, "If I alone bear witness of Myself,





My testimony is not true.


            Now the Jewish Mishnah said, "A man is not worthy of belief when he is speaking about himself.

            Demosthenes, the Greek statesman, said, "The laws do not allow a man to give evidence on his own behalf."

            And so it was - even the Mosaic law required two or three witnesses to establish a matter.

            So Jesus gives his own testimony, knowing that he would need to give more - and he does - not 2 more or even 3 more.  Jesus calls to the witness stand 5 more to testify in His behalf.

The second witness is John the Baptist

33.  You have sent to John, and he has borne witness to the truth  skip 35.  He was the lamp that was burning and was shining and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light.

            John the Baptist, the forerunner of the Messiah publicly declared, pointing to Jesus, "Look, behold, the Lamb of God who taketh away the sins of the world."

            The Rabbis taught that only God could forgive sin - John said, "There is forgiver of Sins."

            And they rejected his testimony.

The third witness to speak are the miracles of Jesus.

You go back to the prophet Isaiah and he declares that when the Messiah comes the blind will see the deaf will hear and the lame will leap for joy.

And what had Jesus just done - he had walked up to a man who had been lame for 38 years and he had said to him, "Arise, take up your pallet, and walk."

An undeniable, irrefutable miracle!    What a witness!

But what happened?  The Jewish leaders got all bent out of shape because Jesus performed the miracle of healing on the Sabbath.  

They completely overlooked the miracle, blinded instead by the minutia of their regulations. 

The bottom line was - they wanted to protect their traditions more than they wanted to discover the truth.

Jesus calls the 4th witness to take the stand:

            God the Father

            37.  And the Father who sent Me, He has borne witness of Me, You have neither heard His voice at any time, nor seen His form (face).

38.  And you do not have His word abiding in you, for you do not believe Him whom He sent.

The Father gave direct witness to His Son at his baptism (Mark 1), at the Mount of transfiguration (Matt. 17), before his crucifixion (Matt. 12) and in his resurrection (Rom. 1).

The fifth witness is the scriptures

39.  You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is these that bear witness of me. 







40.  And you are unwilling to come to Me, that you may have life.

The word "search" (v.39) could be translated "research".  The Jewish scribes and leaders studied the very letter of the scriptures.  Each line of text was analyzed so that they knew how many consonants were in each line. 

They knew the facts of scripture but refused it's truth.

They studied the pages of scripture but they refused the author.

The final witness was no doubt a surprise to the Jewish leaders

The final witness to take the stand is none other than Moses

Listen to the startling conclusion of Christ's message:

45.  Do not think that I will accuse you before the Father; the one who accuses you is Moses, in whom you have set your hope.

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

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

Imagine the courtroom scene.  The nation who declared unswerving loyalty to Moses now finds out that they have, all along, ignored the truth of Moses' writings.  Writings that pointed to the savior.

Turn quickly to Luke 24:27







Luke 24:27

In Luke 24 the Lord, begins to walk beside some disciples as they traveled to the village of Emmaues.  As they walked, Jesus began to explain the scriptures, and "Beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures"...skip to 32.  And they said to one another, "Were not our hearts burning within us while He was speaking to us on the road"

But the Jewish leaders Jesus speaks to in John 5 are entrenched in their own love for their religion, they missed the Savior. 

So submerged in their facts of scripture that they missed the Father's message.

And what does our Bible study do for us.  Does our knowledge of the Bible give us a bigger head or a burning heart.

Well, the nation refused Christ because he claimed to be equal with God and he broke the Sabbath.

Why do people refuse Him today.  Why do you?

Because life in Christ is too demanding

                                                too humiliating

                                                too costly

                                                too disappointing

                                                too irrelevant

                                                or I'll just save Him for a later time.

If you refuse Him, you will one day stand before Him as your judge and it will be too late - forever too late.  Is your pride in yourself worth an eternal hell?  Are your passing ambitions worth an eternity apart from God.

If you come to Him now, you will find He is a lamb - slain for your sins; a Savior, available to save you, not just from an eternal hell, but an empty life and for an eternal heaven.

Come to Jesus Christ - He is God!

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