[John 5:24-30] The Summons

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 judgement, 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 judgement, 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 judgement.
30 “I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge, and my judgement is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me.

John 5:24-30

A. [John 5:26f.] The Son of Man

Right in the middle of a little clutch of verses telling us all about the importance of hearing we find a couple of verses that don’t mention hearing directly:-

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 judgement, because he is the Son of Man.

John 5:26f.

So it occurs to us that we ought to listen first to what they have to say to us. Since the Son now possesses a separate human nature — i.e. the life in himself granted to the Son by the Father — he is able to exercise authority, even to execute judgement, because he is the Son of Man. In terms of hearing: the Father has given the Son both the ability to hear and the authority to judge.

    There are implications that go right to the heart of the Gospel:

Life-in-himself was granted so that the Son could hear in our place. • Life-in-himself was granted so that the Son could obey in our place. • Life-in-himself was granted so that the Son could die in our place.

    Hearing seems to be such a mundane activity that our attention is drawn away to ask questions like:  “Who is this Son of Man?” [c.f. Jn. 12:34]; but in a book that begins with:-

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God.

John 1:1f.

hearing the Word has to be of central importance.

The grant of life-in-himself allows the Son to take Adam’s place as the Head of all mankind and for that reason and purpose Jesus often refers to himself as the Son of Man. Because God has given him authority to execute judgement:

• He can judge our hearing because he has human ears to hear. • He can judge our obedience because although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. [Hebrews 5:8] • He will return to judge the world because he gave his life in order that we might live. [c.f. 1 John 4:6-12.]

By granting life in himself to the Son and by giving him authority to execute judgement the Father has initiated a new beginning, making Jesus the Head of the new humanity and the firstborn of the new creation.

B. [John 5:28-30] All will hear

In our text we pass immediately from the beginning of the new creation to the end of life on the old earth:-

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 judgement.

John 28f.

At the general resurrection all … will hear but not all will be raised to the same end. There will be a resurrection of life and there will be a resurrection of judgement.

There is a fundamental reason why court proceedings are called hearings. It is the mark of a faithful judge that he hears both sides before coming to a verdict and Jesus the end-time judge declares:-

30 “I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge, and my judgement is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me.”

John 5:30

At the basic level this means that Jesus the Judge will be just because justice is what the Father desires; but beyond that, seeking not his own will but the will of the One who sent him is what led him to pray as he did in the garden of Gethsemane and his judgement is just because he suffered the punishment for our sin when he was crucified. Had he not submitted to the will of God and allowed himself to be lifted up to die he would not have been able to call those who believe in him to the resurrection of life.

C. [John 5:24f.] Hearing and believing

Determination not to hear is a mark of unbelief and we have a vivid depiction of that in the martyrdom of Stephen:-

Now when they heard these things they were enraged, and they ground their teeth at him. 55 But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56 And he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” 57 But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together at him. 58 Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him.

Acts 7:5458

Our ability to hear corresponds to God’s readiness to speak:-

Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son …

Hebrews 1:1-2a.

and God’s refusal to answer Saul’s pleas for answers gives us some insight into the “many ways.”:

when Saul inquired of the LORD, the LORD did not answer him, either by dreams, or by Urim, or by prophets.

1 Samuel 28:6

However, the classic case-study of hearing God at many times and in many ways has to be as reported in the life of Abraham where God speaks to Abraham both directly and indirectly in more ways than we generally take notice of. I know of no-one who would rather hear God the way Abraham did than hear the way we do now, primarily through the Scriptures telling us about Jesus.

So, how do we know that what we are hearing rings true?

• If it accords with what we have believed • If it accords with what the Scriptures actually say • If the answer to prayer gives us confidence that God hears us [c.f. 1 John 5:9-15]

And what have we believed?

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 judgement, but has passed from death to life.

John 5:24

What does the Scripture teach us about the supreme importance of hearing?

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.

John 5:25

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