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John 5:16-21


Jesus gives life by his Spirit



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Read John 5:16-21


16 So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jewish leaders began to persecute him. 17 In his defence Jesus said to them, ‘My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working.’ 18 For this reason they tried all the more to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.

19 Jesus gave them this answer: ‘Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. 20 For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, and he will show him even greater works than these, so that you will be amazed. 21 For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it.


We saw in our last study that Jesus’ primary task was to provide salvation for the world. But in verse 17 Jesus says “and I too am working”.


What work was Jesus doing which only he could do?


In what way does Jesus give life?


Physical – Lazarus

Spiritual – Calvary, Pentecost – Eternal life. It becomes ours the moment we believe John 5v24 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.


Now look at the second part of John 5v21 the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it.


But John 6:63 says The Spirit gives life


Can someone explain?


Jesus had to come in physical human form to suffer as a human. But the life he ransomed for us is a spiritual life – imparted to us by the Spirit.


Jesus gives life, the Spirit imparts it. How then does the Spirit give us this new life?


My mother left a will when she died. ‘To each of my grandchildren I give (so much..)’. She gave it, but the executor actually imparted it to the different recipients.


Jesus gave us spiritual life, but only after he had died: John 7:38,39

38 Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” 39 By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.


John 19:30: When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.


When my mother died she gave up her spirit. What exactly is spirit?

That part of her which was uniquely her

That part of her which could respond to God

Now I struggle with the difference between Soul and Spirit –

Both seem to be used interchangeably – see verse above and Mark 14:34

34 “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” he said to them. “Stay here and keep watch.”


And in Hebrews the distinction is obviously difficult to separate Hebrews 4:12


12 For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit


Some definitions:


The religious conception of an immaterial element in man, capable of existence apart from the body, and the immortal seat of the personality and of life, physical as well as intellectual, moral, aesthetic, and spiritual.


Existence verified by experiences of sleep and unconsciousness, self-awareness, imagination, memory, and intellectual ideas.


The non-physical part of a person regarded as their true self and as capable of surviving physical death or separation.


How much of the above could be attributed to the animate inner being – Soul or to the inanimate inner being – Spirit?


Personally, I’m not convinced it matters, but biblically it’s my spiritual life which seems to be important so we’ll stay with that for a bit.


Back to my mother. When she gave up her spirit, suppose she could have actually left it to me in her will, and somehow I could have absorbed it into my being. Would I really want to? I’m sure she was very nice, but would I want her thoughts and personality to change who I am? What sort of a person would I then be?


But that’s what Jesus did. John 14:16,17

16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counsellor to be with you for ever — 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.


We are able to share in his Spirit. His Spirit can enter us and shape our personalities so that we become more like him:

Rom 8:6 The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace

When we become a Christian is his spirit forced on us?


No – that’s what inviting Jesus into our lives means!


But having come in, he still does not force himself upon us. He simply draws to our attention things that need to be changed. If we ask him He is more than happy to help us, but he can also be resisted. (Acts 7v51).


We can also grieve the Spirit: Ephesians 4:30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.


But more than giving his Spirit to live in us and make us more like him, with his Spirit comes the same eternal life that the Father gave to him


Romans 8:9-11


9 You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ. 10 But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. 11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.


Note spirit of God, Spirit of Christ. The same spirit. Read also John 14v23

23 Jesus replied, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.


We have seen that Jesus bequeathed his Spirit to us when he died and in that way we are able to share in his spirit. (1)


Are you comfortable with that understanding of the Spirit?


But his spirit is at the same time a separate and complete person, co-existing with God and Jesus from before time began (also referred to as the Spirit of God). (2) Does anyone have a problem with that?


A person, yet at the same time the mysterious and awesome power of God himself – likened to the invisible but powerful force of the wind. (3) Lets read Ezekiel. He has just received the vision of the living creatures and the Glory of the Lord, and the wheels within wheels.


Ezekiel 2:1-2

1 He said to me, “Son of man, stand up on your feet and I will speak to you.” 2 As he spoke, the Spirit came into me and raised me to my feet, and I heard him speaking to me.

Ezekiel 3:10-15

10 And he said to me, “Son of man, listen carefully and take to heart all the words I speak to you.11 Go now to your countrymen in exile and speak to them. Say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says,’ whether they listen or fail to listen.”

12 Then the Spirit lifted me up, and I heard behind me a loud rumbling sound — May the glory of the LORD be praised in his dwelling-place! — 13 the sound of the wings of the living creatures brushing against each other and the sound of the wheels beside them, a loud rumbling sound. 14 The Spirit then lifted me up and took me away, and I went in bitterness and in the anger of my spirit, with the strong hand of the LORD upon me. 15 I came to the exiles who lived at Tel Abib near the Kebar River. And there, where they were living, I sat among them for seven days—overwhelmed.


I cannot reconcile these thoughts in my mind. I simply have to accept them.

A bit like Ezekiel – overwhelmed!


Can we experience the power of almighty God living in us by his Spirit?






John 5b John 5d NIV Copyright