John 5:24-26 (NIV): “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life. I tell you the truth, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son to have life in himself.”
Here Jesus claims, in no uncertain terms, to be the hinge pin of eternal life. Many teach today that it doesn’t matter what a person believes, as long as they are sincere. If they are sincere, then God receives their worship as if it were directed to Him. But that is clearly NOT what Jesus taught.
In this teaching, Jesus tells us that eternal life is dependent on hearing (that is, receiving and acting on) HIS words, and believing the One who had sent Him, the Father. Jesus is the source of all spiritual life for us, which translates into eternal life, because HE has life in Himself, just as the Father has, and He will give that life to those who truly follow Him.
At the Last Supper, Jesus told His disciples, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6 NIV) No amount of sincere belief in a different way will bring eternal life to a person, because only on Savior has real life to give.
Notice also that the time for this eternal life to be given “is coming and has now come.” This eternal life was not something for the future; it was something that people could experience immediately. Some interpret this as referring to Jesus’ ability to raise people from the dead, especially Lazarus, who heard Jesus voice and lived (cf. John 11:38-44). But Jesus was referring once again to the spiritually dead of Israel, the ones Ezekiel had been shown in his vision of the valley of dry bones.
Jesus was even then, by His presence, His actions, and His words, calling out to everyone who was lost, dead in their sins. The Jewish leaders were just as dead as the “tax collectors and sinners” that they despised, but they didn’t realize it. They heard Jesus’ words, but they never really heard what He was saying, and so remained dead. The sinners, on the other hand, hungrily listened to Jesus’ words, received them eagerly, believed in the Father, and were not only forgiven, but made spiritually alive. In the end, they would be the ones who would not be condemned, but would instead be received into God’s kingdom.
Father, there really is a big difference between reading Jesus’ words today and really hearing what He has to say to us. And it is interesting that so many who claim to be spiritually alive cannot seem to hear Jesus’ words, and thus show themselves to be truly dead instead. But those who hunger for real life and who turn to Jesus in faith, immediately receive what they are hungry for. They are transformed, made truly alive, and given the ability both to hear and to understand. What an amazing miracle to watch this new, genuine, eternal life infuse a person’s life! Thank You, Lord, for doing this for so many, including me. Amen.