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The Jews had grounded their indignation against Jesus on a pretence of zeal for God's honour. He had made himself equal with God. If this their feeling had been sincere, it had been excusable. Jesus does not blame it ; but calmly shows them, that if they wish to honour the Father they must honour him ; for he represents the Father. He did not come independently; he came in the Father's name: he did not act independently ; the Son can do nothing of himself. What miracles he had done, he had done as one with the Father. And greater things than they had seen hitherto, were yet to come. They should see that as the Father hath life in himself, even so the Son quickeneth whom he will. For the Father had committed all judgment unto the Son: had given him complete authority, because he is the Son of man. They had already been witnesses of his power over the body; and the time was now at hand, when they should witness his power over the soul.
24. Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation ; but is passed from death unto life.
25. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God; and they that hear shall live.
26. For as the Father hath life in himself, so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself.
27. And hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man.
Here Jesus repeats what he had before asserted, that he brought an offer of everlasting life to those who were in a state of death; and that all who should hear his word, and believe in him who sent him,-believe the Father's message,-should pass from death unto life. And there should be such : the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God; and they that hear shall live,
Many important truths which are implied in the whole dispensation of the gospel, are collected here in one brief sentence. Those who are without Christ, are dead. Christ has power to quicken them. Those whom he quickens shall live.
1. Those who are without Christ in the world, are in a state which can only be adequately described as a state of death. Because they are useless as to all the great objects for which human life is given, as much as if they were already cold and inactive in the grave; useless to the service of God, useless to every spiritual purpose ; and, because being so, they may be described according to law as dead, condemned in the sight of God, and liable to his wrath.5 The man was in a state like this, who is represented by our Lord, (Luke xii. 19,) as thus communing with himself, “ Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years ; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. What is such a life, as far as God, as the soul, or eternity are concerned, what but a living death?
5 See Eph. ii. 3--6.
2. To these Christ has the power of giving life, that they may rise out of the darkness in which they are lying. As the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them, even so the Son quickeneth whom he will. His Spirit infused into their hearts gives them a new existence. For whereas they were before alive to this world and dead unto God, now they are “ alive unto God,” and comparatively dead unto this world. And whereas otherwise their souls were left to perish, whilst their mortal bodies were alone considered ; now they “ mortify their members which are upon the earth,” and seek first and chiefly what may nourish and strengthen their immortal souls. This is LIFE; it deserves to be so called ; and it is a new life, not that to which our carnal nature tends : and it is a life which Christ bestows and maintains, and by which he fulfils the promise, that to “as many as receive him, he gives power to become the sons of God.” Zacchæus, as described by St. Luke, o was one of the first examples of this, when having been "according to his former lusts in his ignorance, accustomed to live to himself alone, he entered upon a new course, and began to live unto God; when he resolved to be as earnest for heaven as he had hitherto been for this present world.
3. Those, then, who do thus live, are those who hear the voice of the Son of God, and come unto him “ that they may have life.” Zacchæus did this; he received Christ joyfully, and passed from death unto life. Others refused to do it: as the rich young man who went away sorrowing, when he found on what terms the offer of eternal life was made ; and that he could only live unto God, by being dead unto this world. He indeed heard the voice of the Son of God with his outward ears, but it did not enter into his heart, and like too many in all ages “ he went away. ”
6 Chap. xix.
Thus are set before all to whom the gospel is proclaimed, “ life and good, and death and evil.”? Our hearts, examined as to their inward feelings, and compared with the habits of our life,8 can alone determine whether we ourselves have everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation. For this is certain, that if we have passed from death unto life, then we are “ dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God, through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
John v. 28, 29.
THE RESURRECTION TO ETERNAL LIFE, OR
ETERNAL DEATH, DECLARED.
28. Marvel not at this : for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, 7 Deut. xxx. 15. 8 See 1 John ïïi. and iv. throughout.
9 Rom. vi. 11.
29 And shall come forth ; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.
These verses declare the important fact, on which the whole of religion rests.
As St. Paul argues, (1 Cor. xv. 29,) “ What shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead ?” Why do they live in the faith of one who, confessedly, died and was buried, “if so be that the dead rise not?” “Let us eat and drink;
” let us follow the devices and desires of our own hearts,—if we may die to-morrow, and die for
But, as the apostle proceeds, “be not deceived :” for the hour is coming, when all that are in the graves
shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and shall come forth, and “appear before the judgment-seat of God, to receive according to the things done in the body."
“ But some men will say, How are the dead raised up, and with what body do they come ?"
Without doubt, it is a wonderful thought, that the sea should cast up her dead, and that death and the grave should deliver up the dead that are in them, and that the soul should animate once more a body, which shall be to each individual as his own body. This is a matter which we are not concerned to examine closely. God reveals to us the fact. “He who raised up Jesus from the dead, shall also quicken our mortal bodies by his spirit which dwelleth in us.” That these bodies will