“Christ Revealed: Lord, Liar or Lunatic”

John 5:19-47Preached @ Harambee Church by Pastor
Michael Gunn on January 14th, 2007

As we saw last week, Jesus, full of compassion, healed a man who was paralyzed on the Sabbath. This was in spite of the fact that this man was quite bitter with God and his life. Jesus pursues people that are religious and irreligious, young and old, weak and strong, male and female, black and white and rich and poor. He does not discriminate by the ways of the world, and subsequently the ways of the world do not have nay hold on Him. He isn’t a white Jesus, American Jesus, Republican Jesus, or a Democratic Jesus, He is Jesus, Son of God, here for His Father’s agenda, to do His Father’s work, in His re-established Father’s kingdom. All are welcome, but not all apply! In our passage today we have a lengthy discourse from Jesus answering the indignation of the religious with His claim to equality with God. Is He God? Does that change things? While this passage may or may not be a direct answer to the Pharisees, it has certainly been communicated to His disciples, and John wants us to know His answer.

From the Head…

The Boast
John 5:19-23
This passage is introduced with, “I tell you the truth.” This actually occurs 3 times in our larger passage (vv. 19, 24, 25). As we have noted before, this is an emphatic statement to focus one’s attention on an important truth. Other translations say “Truly, truly” or “Amen, amen!” John then uses four clauses introduced with the word “For” (gar). The first point is found in verse 19, which molds the will of God and the will of Christ as one perfect union. This is not a Hindu trinity with gods competing for power. This reflects two distinct personalities thinking in perfect concert with one another. As much as we try to live in union with God’s will, we fail, but Christ doesn’t. Whatever the Father wants and does, the Son does. He does the work of His Father. This alone makes Him one with the Father (John 10:30).

The second important point (v. 20) in this text is found in verse twenty. It gives us the reason the Son can know all His Father knows and does. That reason is the Love of the Father for His Son. The godhead is the foundation for our relationships, in that it exists in perfect symmetrical harmony and love without the need of anything outside. Here we see a perfect symmetry of disclosure and obedience. The Father discloses everything to His Son, and His Son reflects love in obedience (John 14:31). Here we have Christ perfectly revealing the Father, or as one writer says, the Son is “Exegeting or narrating the Father.” In a microcosm of this relationship, we too honor and glorify the Father when we act on His revelation in obedience. Jesus’ works will increase as the Father discloses His will, so that His opponents would marvel (Begin to believe). John wrote this book so that we’d believe. Signs and wonders are never for consumption, but for the movement of God’s mission according to His will. Christ moved according to that, and so should we.

The third point (v.21) in regards to Jesus’ identity is that fact that He raises people from the dead like His Father (An act that the OT writers assumed belonged to God alone 2 Kings 5:7). Although we know Elijah and Paul rose people from the dead, it was not done with the same authority and capacity. They did it in Christ’s name, Christ “Gives life to whom He is pleased.”

The fourth (v. 22) point highlights Jesus’ place to judge, which again is reserved for God only (Genesis 18:25). This is seen by many as a contradiction considering that John 3: 17, which says that ”for God did not send His Son into the world to ‘condemn’ the world, but to save the world through Him.” Jesus’ purpose for coming to earth is clear; the clearing of the way for God to righteously save whom He chooses (Romans 3:23-25). However, from an eschatological point of view, Jesus is our judge, based on our deeds (see verse 29).

All of this is according to verse 23, in order to honor the Son, which is another privilege directed at God.

John 5:24
Jesus continues His boast with another “I tell you the truth,” by making salvation exclusive to His Father’s plan, and His work on the cross. It’s simple, there is no “Condemnation” in Christ (see Romans 5:1; 8:1).

John 5:25-30
Here again Jesus begins with “I tell you the truth.” Here he finishes up what He began in verse 24. Judgment is real and it’s just, and it’s based on your deeds, which are incredibly connected to verse 24. Mankind wants perfect justice. God will deliver it, and expose our deeds as they truly are. It’s only in His Son that we are saved from our guilt, and free to worship him.

Not only does Christ defend His claims to deity by His works, but he does so by certain testaments to His claims.

The Testimonies
John 5:31-35
Jesus begins with the reminder that John the Baptist saw Him for who He is, but the reality is John was not taken too seriously. Like modern day preaching, we tend to listen to and accept that which we want to hear, and reject that which we don’t like.

John 5:36
Jesus speaks here not of the works of healing, turning water into wine, et al. but the work that He was sent to do, which He was in the process of doing; such as the revealing of His father’s kingdom, which would be secured by His work on the cross.

John 5:37-38
The witness of His Father, which according to Jesus is irrelevant to those that reject Him, is a clear witness of the truth He speaks. John says a similar idea in 1 John 2:25-29. This of course doesn’t satisfy the skeptic, and it’s contrary to our desire to “prove” everything by reason, which is absurd. Verses such as these highlight Augustine’s idea that we “Believe, so that we can know.”

John 5:39-43
The witness of the scripture is clear. Jesus teaches us here (As He does in Luke 24:27) that all of scripture points to Christ. This is why it is imperative that we preach Christ the only relevant truth for us as humans. Too often our preaching capitulates to perceived need, while the gospel keeps pointing to Christ. The gospel is God’s transcendent story narrated through the “Word” (Both incarnated and written) to humanity for their salvation. There is nothing more relevant than Christ and His work on the cross.

The Rebuke
John 5:44-47
Jesus ends with a harsh rebuke of those that reject Him. This rebuke reminds us that information is not the problem; we are the problem! These teachers had the oracles of God, and the testimony of their prophets and Moses, which spoke clearly of the Messiah, but they failed to believe. This is a heart issue, not an information issue as the western skeptic demands. According to Romans we, the people, have plenty of information, but whether we are religious or irreligious, Jew or Gentile, poor man or rich man, male or female, we reject the God of creation, in order to create our own kingdoms. Every war, crime, act of hatred and broken relationship is caused by one or both parties demanding to be their own gods. We have created institutions that reflect this lust for power, 2000 years of church/human history hasn’t disappointed. Humanity will be rightly judged for his/her actions/deeds, and there will be no excuses.

…to the Heart
John 5:24, is a clear calling to life in God’s kingdom, where His will is done, and we like Christ obediently honor Him. This is the gospel and the reason we exist. Our hearts must see Christ for who He is, and honor Him as we decrease. It is this very act that brightens our soul and saves us from death. He is who He is, Lord, Liar or Lunatic; What do you think?


6 comments so far

  1. Bryan Zug on

    One other thought I had this week was on the name of the blog — sermonrant — it’s pretty heavy on the “male/confrontational” connotation — which means that it is something I am less likely to forward on to any friend I am trying to introduce to my spiritual community — something I would very much like to do when there is a good nugget to link to.

    Just my 2 cents — really loving the blog context 😉

  2. Bryan Zug on

    Here’s a cool story about how the “I have a dream” speech was ad-libbed — amazing — especially when it is so easy for me to get ‘tired’ of what seems old hat.

    The Gospel, in particular, though never changing, is new each time it is told — if I ever tire of it, it is me who brings the bordom to the dance.

    Summary is on my personal blog at —


  3. Bryan Zug on

    I love the fact that you posted the sermon so that it is up and I can interact as it is being given live — there is something very cool there about the real time nature of blogs and communication.

    I find that in a lot of the blog stuff I do that are related to real events — the most rich interactions happen very close to real time or shortly thereafter — e.g. within 24 hours.

    The ability to note a question in writing in real time is very cool.

    Could we check out a few laptops to people to do this during the teaching time? That could be cool — almost a realtime backchannel like you see at most tech conferences.

    Could be cool to remix live threas like this into powerpoint slides that accompany a teching time — that and some visual not taking like in mind manager — which is a very cool way to do things that I’ve seen at conferences I go to —


  4. mike on


    Wow, some great points! I’m going to have to give some of this some thought, because interaction and dialogue is my aim.

    That’s amazing too re: Martin Luther King. I’m not surprised, I think he was a great man, and a phenomenal orator!

    Thanks bro!


  5. Jenn on

    Really felt challenged by the sermon this week, particularly by a point that was alluded to but not explored… It’s a question I’ve wrestled with and never found an adequate answer to, which is what role Judgment (as in The Judgment) plays in salvation. I know that we are forgiven through God’s mercy, and that Jesus’ sacrifice makes us pure, but there IS the Judgment, and I don’t know how to put those pieces together. Any help?
    P.S. I think “SermonRant” is a very appropraite title–to me (a woman!), it makes it clear that everything is fair game, and that pointed questions and comments will be addressed and encouraged, not feared. Honestly, I’m a bit envious of the no-holds-barred intellectual forums the guys have, so I’m grateful for this one!

  6. mike on


    Thanks! I’m glad you asked since someone asked a similar question after the sermon. In our passage it clearly is judgment for those that reject God, and mercy for those that are in Christ. However 1 Corinthians 3 does indicate that believers will be judged for their works here on earth. We’re not 100% sure what the rewards are, but we do know that we will be responsible for being missional here on earth and bring forth fruit of the gospel. Thanks again for the post! And thanks for the name support!! 🙂

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