Series: The Gospel According to John
Title: The Impotence of Religion Verses The Power of Christ
Text: John 5:1-17
Purpose: By studying these verses we learn: While religion is impotent to save, Jesus is mighty to save.
Speaker: Bishop Jake Givan, Jr., D. Min
Date: November 11, 2018
In our text, we move from a section in John’s Gospel where we saw initial belief in Jesus as the Son of God to a section of mounting unbelief and opposition
to Him, originating with the Jewish leaders (whom John often calls, “the Jews”; 5:10), leading finally to the cross. At the root of their hostility toward Jesus
was that He confronted their man-made religious traditions, especially their Sabbath laws. Jesus never broke the Sabbath as God intended for the Jews to
keep it. But He deliberately violated the human traditions that had grown up around the Sabbath, because many of the Jews mistakenly thought that by
keeping these traditions they could be right with God. But no one can gain eternal life by keeping God’s law, because no one can keep it perfectly from the
heart, which is the requirement.
The great contrast that comes through in this miracle is the impotence of religion versus the mighty power of Christ. Neither the Jewish leaders nor the
superstition about the angel healing the first person into the water after it was stirred up had helped this man in 38 years. But in one crisp command, Jesus
brought instant and complete healing to him. The lesson is:
While religion is impotent to save, Jesus is mighty to save.
I do not believe that this healed man believed in Jesus and was saved spiritually, I do think that this miracle illustrates Christ’s power to save, as contrasted
with the impotence of religion to save anyone. And so, I hope that you understand that coming to church, serving the church, being baptized, taking
communion, or any other religious activities can never forgive your sins or gain you eternal life. But Christ is powerful to save you and will save you
instantly if you will believe in Him. Note three things:
1. The human race, fallen in sin, needs God’s salvation above all else.
2. Religion is impotent to save anyone, but it is powerful to enslave many.
A. Religion is impotent to save because it focuses on outward conformity to manmade traditions, not on inward conformity to God’s Word.
B. While religion is impotent to save people from their sins, it is powerful to enslave people to its damning system.
3. Jesus is mighty to save.
A. Jesus knows the condition of every person.
B. Jesus can speak the word and instantly heal a soul who has been bound by sin for decades.
C. Jesus is sovereign in imparting salvation to whomever He wishes.
This incident in John 5 does two things. First, it discloses the wickedness of unbelieving Jews, especially of unbelieving Jewish leaders.
The second thing this incident in John’s Gospel does is to provide the occasion for Jesus to state very clearly (and very early in this Gospel) just who He is.
Our text has several more lessons to teach us, which I shall briefly mention.
We cannot help but notice that those who are most in the wrong here are those who are most assured of being right.
Doing what is right does not always result in a righteous or a rewarding response.
This passage is a reminder of the “weakness” of signs and wonders, and of the power of God’s Word.
Finally, we see in our text a beautiful example of sovereign grace. Grace is God’s unmerited favor.
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