SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSONS
Commentary by Walter Albritton
God Offers Eternal Life to All Who Embrace His Son Jesus
Key Verse: Very truly, I tell you, anyone who hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life, and does not come under judgment, but has passed from death to life. – John 5:24
The Pharisees refused to accept the authority of Jesus as the Son who was doing the will of the Father. Jesus’ claim that he was one with the Father was heresy to the Jewish keepers of the law. Their objection was so strong that they looked for ways to kill Jesus.
John’s Gospel underlines the authority and power of Jesus as the divine Son of God. Jesus knows what the Father wants done and he is doing it. He understands that the purpose of his life is to do the will of God. Whatever Jesus does is actually what the Father is doing for they are one.
Accepting the authority of Jesus was a huge hurdle for the Pharisees to leap over. Few of them did. But this is the crucial decision that must be made by anyone who would follow Jesus. We do not become disciples by embracing Jesus’ ideas; we become disciples by accepting his authority as the Son of the Father. Then we surrender to his Lordship in our lives.
Consider the matter of authority in your life. For some people their own mind is their chief authority. If something does not “make sense” to them, then they cannot accept it. A virgin could not give birth to a child because that is unreasonable. Jesus could not multiply loaves and fishes out of thin air so that has to be a myth. And obviously it is impossible for a man to walk on water. This is how people reason when they are their own “authority” for truth.
Genuine discipleship involves the authority of the Bible as well as the authority of Jesus. Is the Bible a book about God or is it the Book of God? Is the Bible the Word of God or is it the book in which certain wise persons can find the Word of God for us? Does the Gospel of John tell us who Jesus is or does it simply tell us what a man named John thought about Jesus? Does God speak through the Bible or is it just a wonderful collection of great literature about many peoples’ experiences with God?
How we answer these questions determines what authority the Bible has in our lives. It is not a question of idolatry; God nowhere insists that the Bible be worshiped. It is more a question of love. John Calvin insisted that our love of the scriptures should be no less than our love of God. Martin Luther loved the Bible so much that he said the Bible is the Cradle in which God gave us his Son. John Wesley called himself “a man of one book” and that book was the holy Bible.
My own spiritual life began to hum with power and joy when I decided that the Bible was God’s Book, inspired by the Holy Spirit to show us who God is and how he wants us to live. Having accepted the authority of the Bible, I realized my next step was to accept the authority of Jesus as the Son of God, the great I AM, and the one to whom I should surrender my life. Since that initial surrender, life has become a daily surrender to Jesus. That is not always easy to do but it is always the pathway to abundant living and fullness of joy.
True discipleship involves listening to Jesus and believing what he says. He says eternal life is a gift the Father gives us when we trust Jesus. He says we can live in death or we can by faith live in life. He says he is life so I am alive when I am in him. He says the gift of eternal life does not end in the grave but continues on forever in the presence of the Father. He says he and the Father love me so much they want to make their home in my heart.
That seems like what I need! So I say, “Lord Jesus, I believe! Help me with my unbelief, and let your will be done in and through me until you call me home. Be Lord of my life until every nerve and fiber of my being is under your control. Purify my desires until my sole desire is to let you have your way with me in all things, now and forever. Amen.”
If you feel a need to stop for a few minutes and talk to Jesus, feel free. Tell him you want to be sure he is the chief authority in your life. When Jesus is truly in charge, you are sure to feel a wonderful new hum in your life – and wonder of wonders, it never ends!
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