[Oct 21]--Grave Robber

John 5:24-30

            I’m not exactly sure why, but of all Jesus’ miracles it seems that resurrecting the dead is the most impressive category to me. As far as we know, he only did it three times during his earthly ministry, and at least one of those was on someone who'd died very recently. So this was not something he did on a regular basis. As we talked about a couple of days ago, he didn’t come to immediately erase every symptom of the Fall but to deal with it at its root. Once the sin issue was solved, he could reverse the effects later, which he eventually will. But of all the effects of sin: alienation from others, war, poverty, sickness, susceptibility to injury, aging, etc., death is the most stark reminder of all we've lost. We were not designed to die: Paul makes it very clear that death came as a result of sin. And what a result! To stand over a newborn baby, so full of life and vigor, and to know that one day (unless Jesus returns soon) that tiny person will die someday can break your heart.

            But there’s hope. First off, we don’t have to fear condemnation. Vs. 24 is one of my favorite promises in the whole Bible. If we just listen to Jesus and believe in what the Father has said about him, then we don’t have to worry about the Final Judgment. He prefaces this statement, as he always does when he wants to emphasize the truthfulness and importance of something, with “I tell you the truth. . .” Literally it's “Amen Amen”: By repeating it he wants to make it absolutely make this promise clear to us. We’ve now crossed over to life, and death no longer has a hold on us.

            On a side note, vs. 24 is also meaningful to me because I've used it for years as part of my "One Verse Evangelism" which you can see on the right side of the web page.

            How do we really know this? How do we really know that condemnation and death no longer have a claim on us? Well, he goes on to answer that. Another figure of speech which is unique to John’s writings is “A time is coming and has now come when . . .” In other words, I’m giving you a foretaste of the future right here and now. There will come a day when I will return and call everyone out of their graves to face judgment. Those who have “done what is good” will “rise to live,” while those who “have done what is evil” will "rise to be condemned." Does this contradict salvation by grace? Of course not! How do I know I’m “good” enough? How do I know that I won’t be condemned? Because Jesus himself said so five verses ago! All we need to do is listen to Jesus’ words and believe in him, and we won’t be condemned. So there are three possibilities here: 1) He’s referring to the rewards we receive for having worked for him. 2) He’s referring to the righteousness we receive from Christ by faith. Or 3) it’s referring to the fact that we show that we belong to Christ by how we live. If we truly have placed our faith in him, then it will show in a change of lifestyle. The NASB renders it as “good deeds” and “evil deeds,” so I would definitely lean more towards the third explanation.

            But the point that I’m making is that Jesus is saying that we don’t have to wait for the future. Yes, he'll one day come down and call everyone out of their graves, but we can experience a little of that power right now. We can, to a limited degree, bask in his presence right now. We can be free from sin’s power right now. We can get a foretaste of real life right now. Why wait?

Lord Jesus, you offer me life to the fullest, and it’s pretty rare when I take you up on your offer. I’m doing that right now.

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