The Judge of All the Earth
© 2022, C. O. Bishop
We have been studying through the Gospel of John, and we have come to a place where a fairly heavy doctrinal question is posed: “Who are we really dealing with in the Person of Jesus?”
In the context, here, Jesus had healed the man at the Pool of Bethesda, and the man had responded by “turning Jesus in” to the Jews…probably the religious rulers. So, in verses, 15 and 16, we catch the initial sense of “what is happening.”
15 The man departed, and told the Jews that it was Jesus, which had made him whole. 16 And therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to slay him, because he had done these things on the sabbath day.
The man identified Jesus as being the one who had healed him (more specifically, the one who had told him to take up his bed and walk) and we see that the immediate response of “The Jews” was to persecute Jesus and seek to kill him. I always have inferred that the passage referred to the religious leaders, but, as I read it over again, I see that it does not specifically say that. It just says, “the Jews.”
However, we want to remember that this happened in Jerusalem, and the Jews in Jerusalem seem to have had a different response than did the Jews of smaller cities and villages, as a rule. And Jerusalem was ultimately the key response for the entire nation. Bethany received Jesus as the Promised King and Savior, but Jerusalem clamored for His death!
The Initial Accusation
So, the first accusation they made was that Jesus was breaking the Sabbath. This is apeculiar thing, as He seemed to deliberately heal on the Sabbath to further challenge His accusers. The word “Sabbath” means “rest!” And Jesus was giving the sufferers Divine Rest, through the healing He provided.
He delivered them from the bondage of their illness, paralysis, or demon-possession, and He gave them rest! In Hebrews chapter 4, we will eventually see that Jesus is our Sabbath: And, having received Him as our deliverer, we now “labor to enter into His Rest,” on a day-by-day basis.
Jesus did not try to explain any of this to His accusers. He simply stated His claims and continually demonstrated His authority. What incredible authority; to speak and cure paralysis! To speak and cast out demons (who recognized Him and called Him by name!) To speak, and raise the dead! To speak, and calm the storm! And their only response was to try to kill him! What an amazingly wrong-headed response! It was bad enough that they continually argued against Him, but to want to kill the only one who had the power of life seems incredibly short-sighted!
Jesus’ Reply, and the Second Accusation
Jesus’ spoken reply to His accusers made them even more determined to kill Him:
17 But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work. 18 Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God.
You see, now they really thought they had him cornered: He was convicted by His own words! They correctly understood that He was claiming Deity. He was not saying, as a person today might say, “My Heavenly Father (in contrast to my biological or human father) is watching over me.” They correctly understood that He claimed to be the Heir, God in the flesh!
The odd thing to me, there, is that in their own Scriptures they had that express promise made to them. In Isaiah 7:14, God said that “The Virgin shall be with Child and shall bear a Son and shall call His name Immanuel.” The name, “Immanuel” literally means “God with us!” That sounds like a pretty precious promise, to me!
So, if someone came along, claiming to fulfil that promise, wouldn’t the logical response be to “check His credentials?” There were lots of prophecies they could turn to, to check Him out, but they did not bother to do that. They just assumed He was lying, and they attacked Him.
19 Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.
He pointed out the illogical character of their response, saying, in effect, “Look at the Works!” He later said, “if you don’t believe my words, believe for the sake of the works!” He showed that the works themselves had to come from the One who had the authority to heal! At the very least, they should have been able to see that He was sent from God.
In John chapter 9, we see that this precise argument was raised by the man who had been born blind, and whom Jesus healed. He said, “No man can do such things unless God is with Him! From the beginning of the world, it has not been heard that a man received sight who had been born blind!” And, again, the response of the Jews was only to accuse the man who was healed, and to cast him out of the temple, rather than confess the strength of his argument. They were not willing to see Jesus for who He truly was, even when confronted with irrefutable truth.
Jesus went on to describe the relationship between the Father and the Son:
20 For the Father loveth the Son, and sheweth him all things that himself doeth: and he will shew him greater works than these, that ye may marvel. 21 For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom he will.
He described the Love relationship between the Father and the Son, and further said that the miracles were about to increase, specifically so that they should “marvel”—be filled with amazement. And raising the dead was what he said was coming up.
Now, they had not yet seen Jesus raising the dead, but He offered a preview, of what was going to happen: speaking to those who were His sworn enemies, He offered the resurrection! He claimed the authority to raise the dead at will. What proof could He give of that authority? They would see the proof, but, so far, He had not done such things. In John 11, he publicly raised to life someone who had been dead long enough to begin to decay. And, in John 12, their response was still to want to kill him!
If someone who has already demonstrated that He could heal people who were completely wrecked by disease, makes the claim that He can raise the dead, He should at least be given the opportunity to prove His claim. But that was not their response. Nor is it the usual response today. I have had someone declare to me that if they saw someone raised from the dead, they would have to believe. But, in Luke 16:31, Jesus said that is not true, either: He said that “if they will not believe Moses (God’s prophet…God’s Word) then they would not believe, even if they saw someone raised from the dead.”
The Universal Response
So, what is the usual response of Humanity to God? We see in scripture that the Jews’ response was not unusual for the rest of the World either. So, we should be cautious about condemning the Jews for their response. Jesus taught that very few would actually enter in by faith…that most people would choose the path toward destruction.
Keep in mind that their response is by their own choice. Even in the Old Testament, God says that the voice of Wisdom calls to the simple and the foolish, to turn from their ways, and also that God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked. But the depravity of the Human race is universal. Our egos war against God, by nature.
In Psalm 14:2, 3, God said, “The Lord looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God. They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one.”
We want to “re-write” such a passage to say, “…not very many…” but God says, “No, not one!” Collectively, we have rejected God. He has pursued us with His Grace and Love and Kindness and attempted to reconcile the World to Himself. Also, that passage from Psalm 14 is quoted verbatim in Romans 3:9-12.This is not an “Old Testament problem.”
God saw that Human reasoning and Human “wisdom” would never result in a right relationship with God. (1st Corinthians 1:21 says, “for after that in the wisdom of God, the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.” ) So, He chose, before the foundation of the World, to receive a specific group: those who would respond in faith to the Good News of God’s Grace.
Jesus said in John 12:32 “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.” He gave Himself as the “magnet” to which people would either respond in faith or not. Some may respond with indifference. Others may be “attracted,” but still unwilling to believe, because of the offensive nature of the Cross. Some may respond in ridicule, saying that the entire message is utter foolishness. Still others may respond in anger, claiming that they are “Good People!” They see no need for a Savior and are insulted that we would suggest they need one!
But, still others will respond in faith, choosing by faith to lay their hands upon God’s chosen sacrifice, and see Him as their only hope. Faith is a choice. To those few who choose to believe God, He gives eternal life and eternal forgiveness of their sins.
So, Jesus has named Himself as the one through whom the resurrection is to be had. He has named Himself (back in John 3:16-18) as the only Savior, and said that the only requirement is faith. He said that those who believed in Him (as their Savior) would not be condemned, but that those who refused to believe were already condemned, specifically because they do not believe. But what else does he say, here in John 5:22, 23?
Jesus, the Judge of all the Earth
From Human perspective, we have been told that God is the eternal Judge: and so He is! But we frequently fail to consider the triune nature of the Godhead. John began to investigate this truth, way back in John 1:1 – he said that “the Word was with God and the Word was God.” Now, in any other context, that statement alone is contradictory—paradoxical: Something (or someone) cannot be with another being, and simultaneously be that other being.
So, we had already begun to see that this “Word” who was later identified as Jesus, was in some mysterious way to be seen as being God, Himself. That is an important point to grasp. Later on, Jesus brought it to everyone’s attention that only God can forgive sins, and that, while a human may say “your sins are forgiven,” it becomes the ultimate in “cheap talk” unless they can prove that they have the authority to forgive sins. So, He proved His authority to forgive sins by demonstrating His authority to heal a paralyzed man. (He simply spoke, and healed him!)
But what else does that suggest about Jesus? If He has the authority to forgive sins, does He not also have the authority to not forgive? That makes Him the Judge! And Jesus confirmed that truth, in the next two verses; also warning the hearers of the consequences of unbelief:
22 For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son: 23 That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him.
Here are four points to grasp from that statement:
- God the Father does not judge.
- God the Son does judge…and all judgment has been committed unto Him.
- The goal of God is that people will honor the Son as they honor the Father who sent Him.
- Whoever does not honor Jesus in the same way as the Father, does not honor the Father!
Where does this leave the people who say that they believe in Jesus, but see Him as somehow less than God in the Flesh? Many people say they believe Jesus is the Son of God, but deny that He is God. This is a stumbling block to all the cults: they want to appear to honor Jesus, but they balk at admitting His deity. And, the person they are dishonoring is the one who is their Judge.
Old Testament Evidence
What evidence do we have that I am not just misinterpreting Jesus’s words? Genesis 18:25 sees Abraham pleading with God in the Flesh (to whom he had just served lunch…beef, bread, butter and milk…and who had eaten it) and addressing Him as “the Judge of all the earth!”
Well, so long as I see that person as God (and it is) there is no information there to support what Jesus said…except that, there is one more New Testament passage that caps it: John 1:18 says “No man has seen God at any time: the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him.” So, yes, that was God, but not God the Father! Abraham called God the Son “Judge of all the Earth!”
If I compare the two passages, where Jesus claims to be the only Judge, and where Abraham called Him that to His face, then I begin to see that the person the Jews were hating and seeking to kill, was literally:
- God in the Flesh
- The only Savior who would ever be offered on their behalf, and
- The Eternal Judge before whom they would stand if they rejected His offer of peace.
It is hard to imagine being so hard-hearted as to not see the joy of the people Jesus healed, and to not hear the pure wisdom He taught. But to be confronted with the reality of His authority, and to deny it as though he were only a political rival, seems insane. And yet, that is where we all have stood, originally, and it is where the vast majority of the world still takes its stand, today.
How can we apply this truth?
So, what can we do with this knowledge? If we have already received Him as our Savior, then perhaps it will remind us of the importance of daily seeing Him as our Lord: our Master. Perhaps it can give us greater drive to share with others our hope of redemption, our only hope of forgiveness and eternal life.
Remember that evangelism is nothing greater (nor less than) one beggar telling another beggar where to find free food and shelter. We came to Christ as beggars, condemned and unclean. He gave us a new life, completely holy before Him. But we still have nothing, outside of what He gives us. So, we offer that gift freely, without any condescension… we are just saved sinners ourselves. We aren’t looking down our noses at anyone. But the one we serve is the true Master of all things…the only Savior and the Eternal Judge. Take it seriously and pass that Grace to others!
Lord Jesus, change our hearts to truly see You as the only hope for the world, and more specifically, the only hope for every individual sinner in the world. Help us to see through Your eyes, and care with Your heart. Make us to serve as Your hands and feet and to speak as Your voice.