BLINDED FOR THE WORK OF GRACE, #526
"But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work. Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God." (JOH 5:17-18)
Notice how blind the Pharisees were for "the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world." Notice how totally blinded they were by their own perverted teachings.
I talked to a lady from California the other day. She said, "Ive been attending Bible studies, and what Im finding is that I have such a tendency to read into the Word of God what I have always believed. I find it is so blinding."
What the Pharisees, the Jews, and the scribes were blinded by was their own preconceived notions and their own interpretations of the Word, which they would read into every passage of Scripture as a natural result of their perverted teachings.
These perverted teachings of the meaning of the Sabbath blinded them from the true meaning of the Sabbath. They had no concept in their minds at all of the true meaning of the Sabbath. They were so legalistic. Their laws forbid moving of a burden. They saw a man carrying his bed; therefore, he was violating their perverted teaching because he was bearing a burden on the Sabbath Day. They did not understand that the Sabbath is a day of rest and repose from the cares of this life and the cares of this world. They did not understand that the man was obeying the very Messiah at the time he was carrying his bed.
JOH 5:15-16 says, "The man departed, and told the Jews that it was Jesus, which had made him whole. And therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to slay him, because he had done these things on the sabbath day." He had violated their concept of the Sabbath and therefore they were so enraged as to seek to slay the very Lamb of God that came to take away the sins of the world.
Our Saviours teaching in our text, "My Father worketh hitherto, and I work," with reference to His working on the Sabbath was not an attempt to defend Himself, but to teach the true meaning of the Sabbath. When He said, "My Father worketh hitherto, and I work," He was expanding the true meaning of the Sabbath.
See what the real command of the Sabbath is in EXO 20:8. "Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy." It doesnt have one thing to do with all these man-made laws of the scribes and Pharisees.
Where does that begin? It begins in our heart, that our heart is not clinging to the things of this world, that we have come to a day of rest from all the cares of this life. We come to a day of rest from the things of work and of labor.
God rested from His work of creation. When it talks about how God uses His rest in the book of Genesis and in Exodus, what was it that He rested from? Look at EXO 20:11. "For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day [What did He rest from? He rested from His work of creation. He rested from the creative work.]: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it."
What the Jews, the scribes, and the Pharisees did not understand was the meaning of the word hallowed. What did it mean that he "hallowed it"? The word hallowed means "to set apart for sacred use." God set apart one day for His honor. It was set apart for the purpose of honoring God. It was set apart for worshipping His name that we might not seek our own pleasure on His holy day.
Our Saviour was the co-worker with the Father. As we rest on that day and seek not our own pleasure, we want to "call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words." (ISA 58:13)
This rest is not effected by inaction alone. With the Pharisees and the scribes, it all meant inaction. You were not allowed to move a chair; you were not allowed to move anything bigger than a fig; it was all legalistic dos and donts. They did not understand a heart religion. They did not understand serving the Lord from the heart. They did not understand calling the Sabbath a delight, holy of the Lord, honorable, honoring Him, and not finding our own pleasure, not speaking our own words, but doing His honor. They did not understand that.
What Jesus is teaching us is the design of the Sabbath: it was not instituted to become a form of bondage as the Pharisees had made it by their commandments of men. It was not to put us in a state of bondage for a day.
MAR 2:27 says, "The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath." The Sabbath was made for man as a day of repose from secular labor. It was made for man as a day to be able to rest from all the cares of this life, to serve and honor God, and to delight in the Holy One of Israel.
Our Saviour clearly taught that it was lawful to do those things that were necessary to sustain life and comfort. It was lawful to do these things on the Sabbath, and He appeals to our human sympathies. He points out that it was not a day that was set aside for the purpose of legalistic bondage, but it was a day set aside for the honor of God, leaving us room to do necessary labors to sustain our life and our comforts.
The Lord shows us an illustration of a woman that was a daughter of Abraham whom Satan had bound for eighteen years; it was legal to set her free on the Sabbath Day. He appeals to our human sympathy. He appeals to our logic.
"The Lord then answered him, and said, Thou hypocrite, doth not each one of you on the sabbath loose his ox or his ass from the stall, and lead him away to watering? And ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan hath bound, lo, these eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the sabbath day?" (LUK 13:15-16) Hes talking to the Pharisees and the scribes about how "My Father worketh hitherto, and I work."
In our text, Jesus turns to much higher ground. Our Saviour teaches how the Father ministers to the needs and wants of His needy creatures on the Sabbath. How do the Father and the Son minister to your needs and my needs yet this very day on the Sabbath? As He did to that woman, He looses us from the bondage of Satan, who has kept us "bound, lo, these eighteen years," in other words, up until now. He looses us on the Sabbath Day.
JOH 5:17 says, "But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work." The Father ceased from His creative work on the Sabbath. This is what the Father is using to illustrate where we must rest: we must rest from our secular labors. He rested from His creative work on the Sabbath Day, but if He would cease from His work of preservation all things would cease to exist.
That doesnt mean that He becomes a vegetable on the Sabbath Day; He ceased from His creative work, but on the Sabbath Day He still preserves, He still sustains all things. Not only that, but He comes for His own glory and loosens those who are bound by Satan, who are bound by legalism, who are bound by the power of sin. He loosens them on the Sabbath Day.
See how He preserves all things, and if He ceased to preserve on the Sabbath Day, all things would cease to exist. Look in NEH 9:6. "Thou, even thou, art LORD alone; thou hast made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth, and all things that are therein, the seas, and all that is therein [He is talking about His creative work.], and thou preservest them all; and the host of heaven worshippeth thee."
Our Saviour was the co-worker with the Father in the creation. Our text says, "My Father worketh hitherto," in other words, from the beginning until this day. "My Father worketh hitherto, and I work." He and the Father are co-workers and have been co-workers from the day of creation, from eternity.
See how He was a co-worker with the Father from eternity in JOH 1:3. " without him was not any thing made that was made." Who is it speaking of? Its speaking of the Son of God, the Word of God. It was by the power of the Word that the heavens were made, and all the hosts of them by the breath of His mouth.
He "worketh hitherto, and I work." Hes saying that from eternity, He and the Father are co-workers, but He is also the Fathers co-worker in our preservation. If the Son would cease to work on the Sabbath Day in the way of preservation, all things would cease to exist.
HEB 1:3 says, "Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person [speaking of the Son of God], and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high."
What we want to recognize from Scripture is what the Lord Jesus is saying, "My Father worketh hitherto, and I work." The Father has done nothing without the Son; neither can the Son do anything without the Father.
Thats what we find in JOH 5:19. "Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise."
The Father does nothing without the Son and the Son can do nothing without the Father; they are co-equal, co-workers. "My Father worketh hitherto," in other words, from eternity to this very moment His Father and He are co-workers, "upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high." (HEB 1:3) Hes showing how He and the Father are co-equal, co-essential, and co-workers.
When the preceding chapters of the Gospel of John are held in context with our text we will understand that it is a spiritual book. The Gospel of John is pointing out the spiritual work of grace in the soul. The "work" referred to in our text is the work of grace in the soul. When Jesus says, "My Father worketh hitherto, and I work," Hes talking about how He has worked grace in the soul and that it is the Father that works it. He works it, and it is worked by the Spirit.
"Jesus saith unto them [speaking to His own disciples], My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work." (JOH 4:34)
The Father chose His elect from eternity; the Son came to redeem them. It was a work that the Father commanded Him to do and the Fathers work in salvation was not complete without the work of the Son. It was the co-work of the Father and the Son that worked our salvation. It was the Father who chose, it was the Father who commanded His Son to lay down His life that He might take it again. It was also by the work of the Son fulfilling the work the Father had given Him to do that our salvation becomes a reality.
The Jewish leaders were blinded to the true work of grace. When we talk about the Jewish leaders, were talking about a symbol of those who are unregenerate. The unregenerate do not understand how God works His grace in the soul. They do not understand grace; they are at enmity with God.
See how ignorant the Jewish leaders were, as we see from the question of Nicodemus. He was a member of the Sanhedrin. He was a man who was among the leaders of the Jews.
"Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mothers womb, and be born?" (JOH 3:4)
He was rationalizing the work of grace. He could not distinguish the spirituality of the new birth. Hes rationalizing it: How can a man enter the second time into his mothers womb and be born when hes old? They did not understand the spirituality of the teaching of the Lord Jesus Christ because they were blinded from understanding the spiritual meaning of the Word.
The Pharisees wanted to rationalize the Kingdom of God. To them the Kingdom of God meant the pomp of some king sitting on a throne, a golden scepter, and ruling in an earthly kingdom. Their concept of the Kingdom of God was perverted. Their concept of the Messiah was perverted. Their concept of the work of grace was perverted. They were blinded and this is the way man is by nature. Man, by nature, has no concept of what it is to be born again.
Because the Jews were looking for an earthly kingdom, with all its pomp and human glory, Jesus illustrated its true meaning. The Lord Jesus was teaching the true meaning of the kingdom of heaven in LUK 17. His teaching was to take their minds off all this vain, human rationale and help them to understand the spirituality of the Kingdom of Heaven.
"And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation [Hes saying that the kingdom of God is not going to come by you seeing anything literal.]: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you." (LUK 17:20-21)
Do you see how the Lord Jesus is teaching them of a spiritual kingdom? It is the spirituality of the kingdom of heaven that was totally misunderstood by the Jews. This is what is not understood by human reasoning. When you talk about a new birth, human rationale thinks about being born of a woman. When you talk about a kingdom, theyre thinking about somebody sitting on the throne, something that can be seen by the people. But Jesus says "The kingdom of God cometh not with observation."
A heart religion, without all that appeals to human rationale, is not understood by the natural man. Naaman, the, leper is a Biblical illustration of how totally perverted human rationale can be in connection with the new birth.
See the history of Naaman in 2 KI 5. Naaman saw, by grace, that he was a leper. Naaman, by grace, was told by a little maid about the great Prophet of Israel. Naaman, by faith, believed and acted upon this message and came to the Prophet of Israel. His problem was that in his own mind he expected something that was going to happen by observation, something he was going to see with his eyes. He was going to see a great miracle happen by some great wonder that this prophet would do as seen in 2KI 5:9. "So Naaman came with his horses and with his chariot, and stood at the door of the house of Elisha."
Do you see where his first problem was? He came with all his pomp, all his glory, all his horses, all his gold, all his changes of raiment, and all these earthly treasures to stand by the door of Elisha. This is what you and I would do by nature if the Lord left us to ourselves. We would come to serve the Kingdom of Christ, but take the entire world with us.
This is how Naaman came to the great Prophet of Israel. He came with all his pomp and his wealth to be cleansed (or to be saved) in his sin. That is man by nature. We want to be saved in our sin instead of being saved from our sin. That is natural man: we want a fire escape. We want the blood of Christ, we want the sacrifice of Christ to save us from hell, but how many people, like Baalam, want to die the death of the righteous but dont want to live the life of the righteous? How many people, like Baalam, still cherish the wages of unrighteousness? They dont want to be saved from sin.
This is how Naaman came and this is how the Pharisees were coming to Christ. They wanted an earthly kingdom that came with observation. They did not understand the work of the Father. They did not understand the work of His Son, that it was a work of self-sacrifice, that it was a work of crucifixion, that it was a work of walking in the way of the cross. They did not understand this.
See what message Naaman received by a mere servant rather than by the great prophet himself in 2KI 5:10. "And Elisha sent a messenger unto him, saying, Go and wash in Jordan seven times, and thy flesh shall come again to thee, and thou shalt be clean."
There was a lot in that message. Do you know what it meant? It meant that Naaman was going to have to leave all his horses and all his chariots and all his servants and all his glory and all his pomp and he would have to leave it all up on the shore, and Naaman all by himself was going to have to walk into the river Jordan, and he was going to have to mark "death" upon self. He was going to have to bathe in the river Jordan seven times, marking "death" upon self, "death" upon sin, "death" upon everything of the flesh. What happened? While he obeyed the miracle was performed: his leprosy was cleansed.
So many people today want to be saved. They want to enter the kingdom and serve under their own terms. They want to continue in rebellion against God yet go to heaven. They dont want to leave all of self upon the bank. They are not willing to take up their cross and write "death" upon everything of the flesh. But until they surrender, until they come unconditionally and surrender to the will of God, they are still lepers.
Many may come to the front of the church and accept Jesus, say that they are saved and that they are eternally secure, and go back into the world and cherish their sin. What are they saved from? Theyre not saved from sin. The name "Jesus" means that He came to save His people from their sins. If they still love and cherish sin, then theyre still lepers. I dont care how far theyve gone; I dont care if they have believed; I dont care if they have come to Christ; until they have obeyed the gospel, they are still lepers. Thats what is needful to understand.
"The Father worketh hitherto, and I work." What does the Father work? He makes you willing in the day of His power. He grants us to will and do of His good pleasure. That is the work of the Father. He works grace in the heart.
See how this simple message, "Wash, and be clean," in verse 13 came against all his expectations and human rationale. This is what was such a stumbling block to the Pharisees. In the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ it was the law of the Gospel.
"Wash, and be clean" was the message that came to Naaman. How did he respond? He went away in a rage. He had vain imaginations of how that salvation was going to come with observation. " I thought, He will surely come out to me, and stand, and call on the name of the LORD his God, and strike his hand over the place, and recover the leper." (2KI 5:11-12)
He had it all figured out how the Lord was going to do this. He had it all figured out just what the Prophet was going to do. Because his human reasoning was set at naught, he was in a rage. He had believed. He had come to the Prophet of Israel. Was he still a leper? He was in a rage, and he was willing to return to Syria a leper before he would obey.
Human reasoning is offended by the simplicity of the gospel message. Do you see where the Pharisees stumbling block was? It was in the simplicity of the gospel. The simplicity of "Wash, and be clean." That meant to leave everything of self on the bank and that our rebellion must be broken. As long as we are living in rebellion against the King of Kings, dont claim to be saved, because we are still lepers. It isnt until we obey the gospel and come in submission to the kingship of Christ that we have any claim upon being cleansed from our leprosy.
The central element of the gospel is so often overlooked. It was not while the great Prophet of Israel would do all that I vainly imagined, to "call on the name of the LORD his God, and strike his hand over the place," that the leper is cleansed with great observation. All that is the vain imagination of the human heart. We have it all figured out just how the Lord is going to do this without us going into that river Jordan and marking "death" on everything of self and leaving all that pertains to this world and this life upon the bank. By nature we all have a desire to do something or to be something or to have something whereby we can glory except the glory in the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ, but what was amazing is the leper was cleansed without all that great observation; it was as he obeyed that the miracle was performed. As he obeyed, as he stepped down of his own free will without any compulsion, he had a new desire. Now his desire was to obey the gospel and he stepped into the river of Jordan by his own free will and he bathed himself. He obeyed, and while he obeyed the miracle was performed.
Until rebellion was broken he remained a leper. Our text says in JOH 5:17, "But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work." What is the work of the Father? He works in all our hearts to remove our rebellion. He works in His Providence to remove our rebellion and to bring us in subjection to the will of the gospel.
The work of the Father is so different from human rationale. I want to give you a few illustrations. When the sun rises it enlightens the universe, yet think how softly and without a sound! Its without observation. Observation means seeing. You watch the sun rise in the morning and see how gracefully, how gently, and how silently it rises. Yet as He brings the sun to rise, the entire universe is lit up, but its so soft, and it is without one sound.
We make more noise in lighting a match than the Father makes when He enlightens the entire universe. The Father works, and the sun rises on the Sabbath Day as well as it does on the other six days of the week. He did not cease His work of preserving the universe. All things continue on the Sabbath even as they do on the other six days.
Our Saviour compares the enlightening of our minds with the wind to establish how we are not able to identify its origin. Just as gracefully, just as silently, just as unidentified as to its source of power, the Holy Spirit works grace to us all.
JOH 3:7-8 says, "Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit."
Just as the sun comes up and goes down and you have no idea whats bringing it about, the wind blows: you hear the sound, but you cant tell where it came from; it is not with observation.
That is the message the Lord Jesus is teaching you and I about the work of grace. There is a change of attitude. There is a new life. We receive new taste buds. We receive new desires. That which was so sweet in the past becomes so bitter and that which was so bitter in the past becomes the sweetest thing on earth. The gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, the call of the gospel to obey, becomes so sweet. It becomes our hearts desire and yet where does it come from? It is not something that came with a big thunderstorm, or a big event. It was the still small voice that spoke to your soul and that changed your whole attitude, your whole being, and your whole desire.
The Father works on the Sabbath Day. The Father and the Son are co-workers on the Sabbath Day, working this great wonder of creation. The new creation is no less remarkable and takes much more than the first creation, for the first creation was but to speak the Word and it was there. "Let there be light: and there was light." But in the second creation it took the giving of the gift of His Son; it took the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ to die on Calvarys cross; it took the atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ to prepare the way for the second creation. How much greater a wonder the second creation is than the first, because the Father gave His own Son and the Son gave His own life to open the way that He can now speak to your soul, "Let there be light." Now He can come as the wind, as the enlightening of the universe. He can turn on light in your soul.
The kingdom of heaven is not instilled into the soul with a great observation to gratify our human rationale; it comes as quietly as the rising of the sun. The Lord compares the rising of the sun to the work of salvation in MAL 4:2. "But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness [See that the word Sun is S-u-n and it is spelled with a capital S, referring to The Lord Jesus Christ.] arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall."
That "Sun of righteousness," that sunrise, is a symbol of the work of grace in the soul. See how gently, how softly, and how silently He works the healing that arises "with healing in his wings." It is when the Holy Spirit takes the blessed Word of God - that Sun of righteousness and applies it in the heart. Its not with observation; its a spiritual work.
Persuasion comes by hearing the Word. The Holy Spirit speaks the Word with power in the soul and its doctrines descend into the soul as silently as light springs into the heart. The Scriptures teach us how the Father works. JOH 5:17 says, "My Father worketh hitherto, and I work." How does He work? The Holy Spirit drops the Word into your soul silently and without any observation.
DEU 32:1-2 says, "Give ear, O ye heavens, and I will speak; and hear, O earth, the words of my mouth. My doctrine shall drop as the rain, my speech shall distill as the dew, as the small rain upon the tender herb, and as the showers upon the grass."
The dew is the symbol of the Spirit. How gently the Holy Spirit descends into the soul: "My doctrine shall drop as the rain," in other words, the teachings of the Holy Spirit come into the heart without observation. It isnt the striking of the hand over the leper and it isnt the big pomp of a king sitting on the throne, but it is a meek, lowly sinner that is like a little flower in the rain and that the Holy Spirit distills as the dew.
Sometimes the dew comes down so gently. If it werent that you walked through the grass and found the dew on your shoes, you wouldnt even know it had been there. You cant see it fall; you cant watch it; all you know is you can see the effect of it. The flowers and the plants and the grass are just dripping with dew and so His doctrine, His Word, comes into the soul.
All our spiritual growth and beauty depends upon the Sun of righteousness. A plant could have a lot of water, but if it doesnt have sunshine it would still die. We need both. We need the dew of the Spirit and we also need "the Sun of righteousness [to] arise with healing in his wings." Do you see how the Father works? His work is so well planned, it is so well organized, and He doesnt make one mistake. Every essential element to your growth is supplied. We have the dew of the Spirit and we have the Sun of righteousness to arise with healing in His wings.
It does not come with observation; " And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! Or, Lo there! For, behold, the kingdom of
God is within you." (LUK 17:20-21) This is the element that the Pharisees did not understand.
The co-work of the Father and the Son in instilling the kingdom of God into the heart progresses in such a clandestine manner, we cannot tell were it comes from, nor can we tell how it grows in the soul. You and I dont understand how the Lord causes us to grow in grace.
See an example in MAR 4. This is how He gives us to understand how the work of grace progresses in the heart. "And he said, So is the kingdom of God [The Lord Jesus is illustrating how the kingdom of God works in your souls.], as if a man should cast seed into the ground; And should sleep, and rise night and day, and the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how." (MAR 4:26-27)
The seed of the Word, the doctrines, are instilled in the heart by the Holy Spirit. The Sun of righteousness arises and it starts to grow and we dont know how.
Verses 28-29 say, "For the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear. But when the fruit is brought forth, immediately he putteth in the sickle, because the harvest is come."
See the quiet nature of the work of grace. There are millions of seeds growing all the time, but have you ever heard them growing? It is totally without noise; it is without any fuss or to-do. The Lord works His grace in the soul. Its a matter of line upon line and precept upon precept, here a little and there a little and so we grow.
Jesus describes the progressive work of the Father and the Son in bringing the kingdom of God to its fruition in the soul. Look at MAR 4:30-31. "And he said, Whereunto shall we liken the kingdom of God? or with what comparison shall we compare it? [He gives so many illustrations of how the kingdom of God is formed in us.] It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when it is sown in the earth, is less than all the seeds that be in the earth."
In other words, its such a fine, small beginning. All of a sudden, there is a little change of attitude and it begins to grow and we start to see more and more the sinfulness of sin, and we begin to see more and more what a rebellious heart we have, and we begin to see more and more how we need to be delivered from that rebellion of our heart and to come into His service.
Verse 32 says, "But when it is sown, it groweth up, and becometh greater than all herbs, and shooteth out great branches; so that the fowls of the air may lodge under the shadow of it."
When the kingdom of heaven is within you, and when it is grown, when it becomes mature, it is so overpowering that you serve it ahead of all other things. Everything else has to come under its shadow.
This is the way these Heavenly Workers, (that is, the Father and the Son) carry on most of Their work against all human possibility and reason. All human possibilities are frustrated as the work of grace grows in the soul. You can have it all figured out, and you know just how its going to be. I can tell you by experience: the better you have it figured out, the more sure that it isnt going to happen. Do you know why? He leads His own in a way that they have not known.
"And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved? [He does it in a way that is absolutely impossible from all human reasoning.] But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible." (MAT 19:24-26)
He saves us through the impossibilities of all our human reasoning. Everything that we have planned and everything that we have figured out (and we can have it figured out easy) and we know just how we are going to do it and what we are going to do because this is how we are going to honor and glorify God, and for some reason none of this ever happens. The Lord works in such a way that it is impossible for us not only to understand, but also to do.
Who can resist these Heavenly Workers? They work irresistibly. The wind, the sea, and the earthquake are all subject to Their command. Yea, the very angels serve at Their bidding. When the Father and the Son are working grace by the work of the Holy Spirit in our soul, all things are at His bidding. We can be in such straits that we come to the verge of despair and sometimes the Lord even sends His angels as His ambassadors.
The Lord said, "I will defend this city to save it for mine own sake, and for my servant Davids sake." (ISA 37:35) How did He defend it? See how the angels hasten at His bidding.
Hezekiah was in dire straits: a great army was besieging Jerusalem and Hezekiah didnt have an army to match it. He came before the Lord and pleaded the glory of His name, but did Hezekiah know how the Lord was going to deliver? No, He works by human impossibilities. He sent an angel one angel. Verse 36 continues, "Then the angel of the LORD went forth, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians a hundred and fourscore and five thousand: and when they arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses."
By morning that boastful army that dared to stand there and defy the God of Israel was laying there - dead corpses. How many? "A hundred and fourscore and five thousand." That was quite a loss in the army in one night and there wasnt even a sword that went forth except the sword of one angel. What extreme power is at Gods disposal to preserve His own when a single angel slew almost an entire army in one night.
PHI 1:6 says, "Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ."
How often Satan would harass us and cause us to wonder if the Lord is going to forsake us before its all over. Will the Lord allow Satan to overpower us and to overcome us? The powers of Satan as he comes against our soul outnumber us so much more than the power of the army of the Assyrians that came against Jerusalem, but what does the Lord do? "Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ." That consolation spoken by one small drop of the dew of the Spirit in the soul is enough to put Satan and all his host to flight, because there is such beautiful consolation that where the Lord has begun, He will carry it on until the day that Jesus Christ is sitting upon the throne of our heart for all eternity.
Preserving the work of grace in our soul takes as great a power as to quicken the soul in the first instance, just like the second creation takes more work than the first. It is that daily temptation, that daily trial, that daily struggle against the power of sin.
As Ive pointed out, one second without Gods sustaining grace would bring the entire universe to nothing, therefore with regard to the Jews accusation that Jesus was breaking the Sabbath Day we read, "But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work." (JOH 5:17)
Do you see why the Father works on the Sabbath Day? Do you see why His Son is working on the Sabbath Day? Where He has begun this good work, He carries it on, preserving us in Jesus Christ. He cannot forsake it on the Sabbath Day; His work is seven days a week, twenty-four hours a day. It is perpetual because if it werent then that work of His grace would also cease. This is why His working is, as Jesus says, "hitherto." He has worked it to this point. "Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it." He "worketh hitherto" and He will work to perfection. Thats the co-work of the Father and of the Son.
When our eyes of faith are opened to see the wonders of the works of these Heavenly Workmen then we may well exclaim with David in PSA 139:1-6. "O LORD, thou hast searched me, and known me. Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off."
We become totally dissolved, we become totally transparent before the Lord. We begin to see and to realize and to understand that we depend upon Him for our very breath, not only to preserve us until the day of Jesus Christ, but also to preserve our very lifes blood. He is there.
Verse 3 says, "Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways." If He ceased working for one second we would be dissolved; we would cease to exist.
Verses 4-6 continue with, "For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O LORD, thou knowest it altogether. Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it."
"My Father worketh hitherto, and I work." See the co-work of the Father and of the Son in His sustaining grace, in His upholding grace. Such knowledge is what these Jews lacked. David said, "Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it." (PSA 139:6) The Jews lacked that knowledge.
Our text says, "But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work. Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God." (JOH 5:17-18)
Now they construed Him as a blasphemer. There was no mistake about it. By saying "My Father and I," Jesus had done what neither Abraham, Moses, David, nor Daniel had done. None of them had made themselves equal with God. He had placed Himself on the same level with the Father. They were not wrong in this. The Jews wanted to stone Jesus, not only as a Sabbath-breaker, but now also as a blasphemer. They did not understand the God of heaven.
Jesus said in JOH 10:27-29, "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Fathers hand."
See the co-work of the Son and the Father. Jesus said that the Father had given them to Him, and nobody is greater than His Father because you cant pluck them out of His Fathers hand. Thats where our eternal security stands.
Verses 30-33 continue, "I and my Father are one. Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him. Jesus answered them, Many good works have I shewed you from my Father; for which of those works do ye stone me? The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God."
They counted Him a blasphemer because He made Himself equal with God because He said, "I and my Father are one."
"But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work. Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God." (JOH 5:17-18)
He had not only broken the Sabbath, now they had made Him an offender for a word. They had made Him a transgressor. What did He say? "Many good works have I shewed you." He had taken that man that was lying there for thirty-eight years and healed him. Jesus asked, "Many good works have I shewed you for which of those works do ye stone me?" Do we throw stones at Christ or do we understand His work of grace in our heart? Do we understand that His Father "worketh hitherto," and He works? Amen.
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