Like Father Like Son

Dr. Kevin DeYoung, Senior Pastor

John 5:19-26 | May 13 - Sunday Morning,

Sunday Morning,
May 13
Like Father Like Son | John 5:19-26
Dr. Kevin DeYoung, Senior Pastor

Let’s pray. Forever, O Lord, Your Word is firmly fixed in the heavens. Your faithfulness endures to all generations. We have seen a limit to all perfection, but Your commandment is exceedingly broad. How sweet are Your words to our taste, sweeter than honey to our mouths. Feed us, gracious Father, with the bread of heaven. In Jesus we pray. Amen.

I invite you to turn in your Bibles to the Gospel according to John, chapter 5. It says in the bulletin versus 19 through 24; we are going to go 19 through 26. And yes, I have noticed the irony of the title for Mother’s Day, “Like Father, Like Son.” [laughter] Hey, that’s where we are in the gospel of John. I don’t know what’s coming up for June on Father’s Day, we’ll see if there are some mothers involved.

John, chapter 5, beginning at verse 19: “So Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of His own accord, but only what He sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise. For the Father loves the Son and shows Him all that He himself is doing. And greater works than these will He show Him, so that you may marvel. For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom He will. The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him. Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears My word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life. Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, 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 also to have life in Himself.'”

It must have been over 10 years ago when my oldest son was still very young that I took him to see a movie, Curious George, maybe some of you saw that. There has probably been sequels since then, but this cartoon movie, Curious George, you’ve read the books. And I remember watching it and thinking this is a sweet, cute movie and, and hearing the music in it and thinking I really like this music. I wasn’t expecting a little kids’ movie to have this music that I liked and it was sort of this, this soft, chill kind of acoustic sound. I thought who is this? I think I’ve heard this before. And then I realized it was Jack Johnson; some of you have heard of him, you don’t need to have heard of him. But, after that, he did the music for it, and so after that I went and I got a, you know, a few of his albums, CDs, when you had those, and now they’re on my phone, and will listen to them. He’s from Hawaii, he’s very much the definition of “chill,” and I like a lot of his songs and he’s also entirely pagan. I don’t mean, I mean pagan in really the old sense, I don’t mean that the songs have lots of bad stuff and have bad words, but I just mean his worldview is clearly one that finds God among the trees and in nature rather than any sort of organized religion.

Here’s one of his songs. This wasn’t in the Curious George movie, by the way, but it’s called Never Know. I should say by preface that influential in his, in his thinking is a book The Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell, which was also very influential in George Lucas’ thinking in developing the storyline of Star Wars and the thesis in this book, The Hero with a Thousand Faces, is that there is sort of this one kind of meta-narrative hero story throughout the world and that different cultures and different religions just sort of put a different stamp upon this hero story. That there’s a hero who has some sort of miraculous birth and that he comes and he’s going to set people free, and whether that’s a virgin birth or it’s midichlorians or whatever it is, that’s just sort of, so that’s influential behind George Lucas and also in Jack Johnson’s own worldview as he’s explained it.

So here’s what he says in what of his songs:

“I heard this old story before
Where the people keep killing for the metaphors
Don’t leave much up to the imagination
So I want to give this imagery back
But I know it just ain’t so easy like that
So I turn the page and read the story again and again and again
It sure seems the same with a different name
We’re breaking and rebuilding and we’re growing, always guessing”

And he goes into the chorus and says “we never know.”

You see the worldview there: We have metaphors, we have this story in the world, and we all just have different metaphors for it, and it’s all the same story, just by a different name, and we’re killing each other, he says, over metaphors.

Here’s the second verse:

“Knock, knock, on the door to door” (so he’s thinking of people knocking on your door to, you know, share the gospel, try to convert you)
“Knock, knock, on the door to door
Tell you that the metaphor
Is better than yours
And you can either sink or swim
Things are looking pretty grim
If you don’t believe in what this one is feeding
It’s got no feeling
So I read it again and again and again
Just seems the same
Too many different names
Our hearts are strong, our heads are weak
We’ll always be competing never knowing.”

That, I submit to you, is a pretty good summary of how many people in our culture understand religious pluralism. It’s all sort of the same story, isn’t it? It’s a hero with a thousand faces. It’s just a different name. And so you have the name Jesus and someone else has a different name. Here, here is our culture’s understanding of Christianity. Here’s our culture’s understanding of Christianity, and perhaps it’s some of your understanding, as well. The culture says “that’s fine, Jesus is your way of being religious. Jesus is your way of being religious. And that’s fine, just don’t be judgmental, don’t be narrow minded, don’t insist that there are not other valid ways to be religious. It’s fine if you want Jesus as your way to be religious.”

You know, we’ve moved from a very liberal town, university town, East Lansing, and not very many people went to church, or at least below the national average, in particular in that city, and people would find out that I was a pastor. And you might think that, oh, up there, you know, maybe they’d say you’re a pastor and they’d be, no, they were always very polite. Even Yankees can be polite. [laughter] Very nice. In fact, they’d usually say “that, that’s great, you’re a pastor.”

Now they had in their mind a certain kind of church. They tended to think “church, oh, that’s great, that’s where you go to learn about recycling and that’s where you go to learn about helping the environment and to do nice things for people,” that’s what they were. So they didn’t exactly know what kind of church that we had, but they’d say “you’re a pastor, that’s fine.” And most of them weren’t, but they had no problem, “Jesus is your way of being religious.” If we would have talked more, they said “just don’t insist that other people need to have your same beliefs.”

Now when people say that to you, and let’s talk in particular some young people here, maybe college students, maybe people who are going to go off to college, and you’re going to hear that and somebody is going to say to you “that’s fine, you have Jesus. I don’t take that away from you. Believe whatever you want about Jesus, but why are you telling me I can’t believe whatever I want?”

Well, in one sense, you know, we, we do believe in the liberty of conscience and we believe in religious freedom, and so, yeah, I’m not telling you by force of compulsion what you ought to believe. But we are, as Christians, insisting that if you are to worship God rightly, you must worship Him through the person of His Son Jesus Christ.

Now, it sounds reasonable at first, doesn’t it? Look, you believe what you believe, don’t get bent out of shape about what I believe. It sounds reasonable, except it allows for a form of belief that is tantamount to unbelief. To suggest that Jesus is “a” way to God or “an” expression of the divine, or simply one subjective approach to religious commitment, is to deny virtually everything Jesus says about Himself in the Gospels. So it is not, in fact, just some neutral middle ground: You get to believe Jesus, I get to believe whatever, and just set that aside.

No, if what I believe about Jesus is true about Jesus, objectively true about Him, not just my subjective experience or my way of being religious, but objectively true about Jesus, then these two things are mutually exclusive. If Jesus is who He says He is in John 5, then there is only one way to honor God, and that is by honoring His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Look at verse 23. This is the heart of these two paragraphs and it’s right in the middle of these two paragraphs. You read there, the second sentence: Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him. That’s in the Bible. That’s Jesus. If you don’t honor the Son, you don’t honor the Father. And by implication, you cannot truly be honoring the Father unless you honor the Son.

Imagine there are 25 miners trapped in a mine, and the owner of the mine hears about this and he sends his son to go and to rescue them. The son finds a way into the mine and he arrives and he says “everyone, listen, good news, I am the owner’s son. I’m his son, and I know the way out of this mine. Follow me and you can be free.” But the men reject him, they mock him, they beat him. They say “we’re not following you.”

Now what would that say about those miners? Either they do not really believe that this is the father’s son, or they do not truly respect the father or they would not be treating his son this way. In both respects, they cannot honor the father unless they honor the one whom he has sent, unless they honor his son.

But notice, this passage says even more than that. It’s not just that we should honor Christ because He’s the Father’s Son, we must honor the Son because He is equal with the Father. Look up at verse 18. Remember, following the Sabbath controversy, Jesus says “well, here’s why I’m working, because My Father is working, and I am working.” And then verse 18 says this is why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because not only was He breaking the Sabbath, but He was even calling God His own father, making Himself equal with God. So He has been understood to be equal with God the Father.

So how, how does this work? You have to remember if a first century Jew knew anything about God, he knew there’s only one God. They learned that the hard way, going into exile in Babylon, coming back. If they’re going to get one thing straight, it’s going to be this: There is one God. It’s our God. Our covenant God. Yahweh, Jehovah. One God. And Jesus is a Jew. His disciples are Jews.

So how does this work? How can we have the Father and the Son, and the Father and the Son are equals, and yet the Father is not the Son and the Son is not the Father, and there’s only one God. And we haven’t even gotten to the Holy Spirit yet.

It’s hard to exaggerate how upsetting statements like this must have been to first century Jews. There’s a reason that this, this is what leads to the first death threat for Jesus in the gospel of John. This is why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him. Now sympathize with them for a moment. This is Jesus of Nazareth. They, they haven’t been singing songs to Him, they haven’t been baptized in His name, this is Jesus. Mary’s son. The carpenter’s boy. And He dares to assert equality with God? No wonder why they wanted to kill Him. Everything about their religion and about their worship was being called into question.

So how can God be one and the Father and the Son be equal? How can Jesus say that whoever does not honor the Son, does not honor the Father?

Well, the answer to that is found in a series of “for” statements. Not “f-o-u-r” but “f-o-r.” There are five “for” statements, five “f-o-r” statements.

Look at verse 19, the second half of the verse: “For whatever the Father does that the Son does likewise,” and then verse 20, “for the Father loves the Son,” verse 21, “for as the Father raises the dead and gives them life,” and you can’t see it but there’s this same Greek word “gar” which is translated “for” at the beginning of verse 22, “for the Father judges no one but has given all judgment to the Son,” so that’s the fourth, and then the fifth is verse 26, “for as the Father has life in Himself.” Those five “fors” are providing the basis for this statement about Jesus, both that the Son is equal with the Father, and that if you do not honor the Son, you do not honor the Father.

So let’s quickly look at each of these. So first, in verse 19, you see “for whatever the Father does, the Son does likewise.” Now you have to look at the sentence right before that in verse 19 to see that Jesus wants to make clear that the Son is not independent of the Father, He does not work independently of the Father, so He says “truly, truly, I say to you,” verse 19, “the Son can do nothing of His own accord.” So this is necessary to establish lest we think the Son is some kind of rival to the Father, because we just said He was making Himself equal with God the Father, and so we might think “well, is this some sort of rival god, or do we have two gods,” and so Jesus wants to make clear the Son can do nothing of His own accord. There is, in other words, an order to this Father/Son relationship. The Son does what He sees the Father doing, not the other way around. You see that explicitly in verse 19: “But only what He sees the Father doing.”

You understand this, and sorry that it’s talking about fathers on Mother’s Day, but you know that you tend to do the things and like the things that your, your parents did. And I think about my father. Everyone else in the DeYoung family are all Chicago Cubs fans, except my dad who decided to be a Chicago White Sox fan, because he, in 1959, was the “go go Sox” and they were really good and the Cubs were bad and he was 10 years old, and so he decided to be a White Sox fan. And so now I’m a White Sox fan, and now my boys are White Sox fans, and now we live in Charlotte, which is the Triple A affiliate for the Chicago White Sox, so it’s all sort of coming together [laughter], and the White Sox are so bad that their best players are probably here [laughter] in Charlotte.

You, you pass on what you see from your father. I sometimes do the same sigh that my father does. Ohhhh, unfortunately. My, my boys now, my boys like to run, or at least they tell me that. They see me running. They don’t know anything about hunting or fishing because I don’t know anything about hunting or fishing, because my dad didn’t know anything about hunting or fishing. He was very indoors-y, [laughter] and so for better or worse, like father, like son. Those things are passed on or not passed on.

So the Son can do nothing by Himself. That is nothing according to His own initiative. Christ does nothing in independence from the Father. The three persons of the Trinity have one essence, that is, one nature, or that word essence think of God-ness. They all share the same God-ness, the same essence, and as a part of that, there is one will.

Going to give you a few theological sentences here this morning, and terms, because I know that’s what you came here for. The will is a property of the nature, not of the person. So Jesus Christ, when God-man—two natures, two wills. God trinity—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—one nature, one will. Now that, that will plays itself out in distinct actions from the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit, but the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit share one essence and one will, so that the Son can say I only do what I see the Father doing, I do not act in independence from the Father. He says “whatever the Father does, the Son does also.” That means the actions of the Father are coextensive with the actions of the Son. Creation, resurrection, final judgment–these are prerogatives of the Father, and as we have seen and will see, they are also prerogatives of the Son, so that the outworking of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, we’ll see more about Him later in John, that their operations externally are inseparable.

Now that doesn’t mean that the Father was born to Mary or the Spirit died on the cross. There are distinct applications to that one work, but that one work is indivisible, so that we must never sort of pit Father against Son, you know, the Father, you know, is a bad Father and He sent His Son to does and He, you know, the Son is, is stop, you know, doing this mean thing to me, Father, and they’re somehow at odds with one another. No, it’s the Father to appoint and then the Son to accomplish and the Holy Spirit to apply that one work of redemption.

So we’re having here, in these simple sentences from Jesus, some of the most complex, richest, deepest, trinitarian theology that would later be fleshed out by the church. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise. So that’s building a foundation why Jesus can say if you don’t honor the Son, you don’t honor the Father. There’s the first “for.”

Look at the second, verse 20. “For the Father loves the Son and shows Him all that He Himself is doing.” So again the Son, who is claiming this, this kind of equality with the Father of essence and purpose and rank and power, He is not a rival to the Father, He is not a threat to the Father, for the Father loves His Son.

Son, John’s Gospel tends to use “son” with reservation for Jesus, and then when it speaks of God’s children it uses a different Greek word “tekna” to mean children. Other parts in the New Testament will use the same word but maybe distinguish between God’s natural Son and then we who are adopted sons and daughters. This is His only begotten Son. The Father demonstrates love by showing, the Son demonstrates His love by obeying.

You turn over just to John 14:31: “But I do as the Father has commanded Me so that world may know that I love the Father.” That the world may know that I love the Father. Now we always have to be careful in making, you know, immediate application from the inner workings of the Trinity down to our life, but there is something in keeping with father-son relationship. The Father’s love is not in obeying the Son but in showing, in revealing, to Him, and the Son’s love to the Father is in His obedience as the Son, the incarnate God-man on earth, always submitted Himself to the Father.

You notice, going back to John 5, verse 20 says “and greater works than these will be shown Him so that you may marvel.” What are the greater works? Well, the greater works are the things that are yet to be described in verses 21, 22, and 23, namely, the raising of the dead and the exercising of judgment, that even these divine prerogatives the Father is going to share and reveal to the Son.

So whatever the Father does, the Son does, that’s first. Second thing, the Father loves the Son and shows Him all things. And then third, look at verse 21: “For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom He will.”

Now don’t let that go by too quickly. Think of what Jesus is saying. The Father, God the Father, what does He do? He raises the dead and gives them life. This, this was understood to be the sole prerogative of God. To call forth resurrection. 2 Kings 5:7: And when the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his clothes and said “am I God to kill and make alive?” That’s what God does.

One of the rabbis claimed that there were three keys that remained in God’s hand and were not entrusted to man: The key of rain, the key of the womb, and the key of the resurrection. So bringing to life, imparting life to the dead, this was understood solely to be God’s prerogative. Yet He says here, as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom He will.

Isn’t that amazing? Now were used to that, we hear that, but you have to think what, how it would have scandalized you, this, this boy who grew up among you and He comes from Podunk Nazareth. And He looks just like you, and He doesn’t have a halo, He doesn’t have a glow, He just looks like you. And He starts teaching about His own Son-ship, and that the Father will give to the Son the power to raise people from the dead. Jesus was often scandalizing the Jews around Him, both in claiming that He had the authority to forgive sins, which only God could do, and now in saying He has the freedom to bring the dead back to life. Who does that? Only God does that.

Then verse 22: “For,” your translation may not have that but there’s a “for” in the Greek, “for the Father judges no one but has given all judgment to the Son.” So this is the fourth bit of the foundation, building this case why the Son and the Father are equal and why you cannot honor the Father without honoring the Son, because the Father has given judgment to the Son.

Now, you may have in your mind a conundrum here, because you go back to John chapter 3 and you look at verse 17: “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world but in order that the world may be saved through Him.”

So there we read, no, the Son was not sent into the world to condemn the world, and now in chapter 5 we read, no, it’s not the Father that does the judging, but it’s the Son who does the judging. So which is it? Well, the word can be used in a broad sense or a more narrow sense. Here in chapter 5, to judge is to evaluate, to be discriminating. It certainly includes the concept of condemnation as we’ll look at more next week. But it’s not the blanket condemnation in chapter 3; it’s a broader sort of discriminating evaluation.

The other thing to keep in mind is that John 3:17 is talking explicitly about the Son’s purpose in coming, and that’s true. God did not send the Son, He didn’t say “okay, we got this world, it’s a mess, what am I gonna do? I’m gonna send my Son so He can clean house.” No, He said “I love the world, so I’m sending my Son that He may die for sinners in the world.” That was His purpose in coming.

But that’s not to say when Christ comes again He will not come as a judge. He will, as the creed says, judge the living and the dead. Now think about that. If this is true, if this is really true, that the Father has given to the Son the authority to judge, verse 22, if that’s true, then all notions of religious pluralism must be false.

So if, if you say to me, “well, pastor, go ahead and believe whatever you want to believe about Jesus, just don’t insist that other people need to believe in Jesus, just don’t insist that, that there’s only one way to be religious.” Sounds nice, except if you say that to me, you don’t really mean “pastor, you can believe whatever you want to believe about Jesus.” What you really mean is “believe whatever you want to believe about Jesus so long as you don’t believe that it’s objectively true.” Because this says the Father has entrusted to the Son all judgment. He’s the judge.

You know, sometimes people will say “I, I, you know what I like? I love the Jesus of the Sermon on the Mount. That’s what I’m really about. You know that Jesus? That’s what I mean by Christianity. I mean, Jesus who says turn the other check, and you know, Jesus who, who says, you know, gives those great commands about getting lust out of your heart and about not being angry with your brother and going the extra mile… Man, I love the Jesus of the Sermon on the Mount.”

Really? Have you ever read the Sermon on the Mount? Do you see the audacious claims Jesus makes on the Sermon on the Mount? Because it’s not Jesus standing up and saying “okay, I got a few points for a better world. All right? Just some things for shalom and a few pointers for all of you so we can just get along with each other.”

If you read carefully the Sermon on the Mount, you will see that Jesus has the audacity to put Himself at the very center of that sermon. So He will have the temerity to say that unless you build your foundation upon these words of mine, your house is going to topple over. And He has the audacity to say that there will be people on the last day who say “Lord, Lord” and Jesus will say “depart from Me, I never knew you.” Jesus will say “depart from Me, I never knew you.” Jesus is not just giving a nice-sounding sermon about how to be good people in the world, He dares to put Himself in the very center of that story, so much so that He can say “on the last day, I will say to some of you, depart.” Jesus is putting Himself on this throne of judgment, so we have no, no place to say “I’ll just take that kind of Jesus.” Okay, take the Jesus on the Sermon on the Mount, but take all of Him.

John 5 tells us, in no uncertain terms, and we’ll see it more next week, that you and I will stand before the Son, the Son, and you will have to give an account of what you did with your knowledge of the Son. Not simply, “hey, did you go to church?” Not just “did you stay out of trouble?” Not just “hey, were you trying your best to be a good person?” But you will stand, every one of you, and me, stand before Jesus Christ of Nazareth, the Son of God, and have to answer the question “what did you do with Me, the Son?”

The Father governs the world in the person of His Son and exercises dominion by the hand of His Son. He grants to Him to occupy this place of highest privilege.

In Genesis 18 we read “will not the judge of all the earth do right?” And now we read that the Son is entrusted with this judgment.

Which leads to one final “for” statement in verse 26: “For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son also to have life in Himself.”

This would be a good verse to memorize, of the verses that we may not normally memorize. It has massive implication. What does it mean, this phase “life in Himself”? So the Father has life in Himself. That means the life that God has because He is God, the life that is self-existent. The life that is before creation. The life that is dependent on no one and contingent on nothing. This life in Himself. So the Father has this life.

Now Jesus says “the Son also has this life.” And notice the, the word there, it’s an important word: “So He has granted the Son also to have life in Himself.”

Church father Augustin referred to this as an eternal grant, so it’s eternal. It’s not that the Son didn’t have life, but the Father communicates to the Son this son-ship in relationship to the Father. Remember months and months ago, if some of you were here and we had a whole sermon on this theological idea of eternal generation, which no one can fully comprehend or explain, but you, you try? That the Son is the only begotten Son of the Father, that from eternity past, the Father communicates this essence to the Son as the Son?

One theologian tries to explain verse 26 by saying “so the Son is God from Himself, although not the Son from Himself.” I’ll say that again: So the Son is God from Himself, although not the Son from Himself. Just another way to say that the Son is God of Himself with respect to His nature and His essence, but not with respect to His person, eternally generated from the Father. Not, not with a beginning, there is no beginning, that’s why it’s an eternal generation.

There is a word, you want one more word, I know, there’s a, there’s a technical term, it’s a Greek word, “autotheos.” Break that apart: “Theos” like theology, “theos” means God, “auto,” well, it can mean, you know, we have the word automatic, but it can mean “itself” or “by itself,” so “autotheos.

There’s a debate in theology about whether the Son is “autotheos,” is God of Himself. In fact, if you come back tonight, you’ll learn about this theologian named Arminius. One of the things that he got wrong, among several, was in denying that the Son was “autotheos,” that the Son has self-existence in Himself.

So this phrase in verse 26 is absolutely pregnant with meaning, okay? So there, happy Mother’s day. [laughter] It’s pregnant with meaning.

So you say “I didn’t know that autotheos connected to Mother’s Day,” but it does, it’s all right here. Because look at what Jesus is doing. Okay, you gotta think, Jesus has both clarified the charge in verse 18 and reaffirmed it. So on the one hand He’s making clear He’s not another God, He’s not independent in that sense, He’s not a second God, He’s not God the second, as Mormon theologians will refer to the Son. But He does what the Father does and so ought to receive what the Father receives, honor and glory.

So all of that there is the Son has life in Himself, but it is granted to Him from the Father. If you want to say what verse gets us just deep into the mystery of the Trinity, it’s a verse like verse 26, speaking of the distinction of the Persons and that the Father grants this to the Son and that there is an order, and yet the absolute equality and that the Son, too, like the Father, has this left in Himself of Himself, because He’s the self-existent one.

Which means, in closing, we shall never find the true God except in and through Christ. Or to use the language of Psalm 2, “we shall never worship the Father rightly except by kissing the Son.” “He who does not have the Son, does not have the Father,” 1 John 2:23.

So let me, let me finish with this question. Do you get lost in all the trinitarian metaphysics, let me bring it down to this, and it’s where we started. I said that our culture’s understanding of Christianity is that Jesus is just your way of being religious. But it’s a fair question for you as well. Is Jesus simply your way of being religious? Or do you understand who this Christ is? And if He is all that we see here in John’s Gospel, how could He possibly be just a minor appendage to your otherwise full life?

Samuel Zwemer, sometimes called the “apostle to Islam,” lived 1867 to 1952, he was a missionary in the Muslim world and then later a professor. Here’s what he writes, talking about the difference between Islam and Christianity. He says “Christians gladly affirm the strength of theism, that is, a belief in a God. We assert as strongly as do all Muslims that there is only one God. But because there is only one God, there can be only one gospel and one Christ. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Not Mohammed. This is the issue that cannot be avoided. The only Christianity that has a missionary message for the Muslim world is this vital Christianity. It is the only Christianity that can meet the deepest need of our Muslim brothers. Our love for them is only increased by our intolerance for their rejection of the Christ. We cannot bear it, it pains us. The day is coming when many will confess Him in the words of a recent Muslim convert to a Christian woman visiting her, who said “I see now that the very center of your religion is Christ, and I want to love and serve Him.”

That’s my question for you. Can you say the very center of your religion is Christ? What is your Christ like? What is your Jesus like? Is it just a default spirituality? It’s what you’re used to, you grew up in America, that’s what the culture dictates, it’s what you inherited, it’s what your, your parents brought you to, it’s what people do in Charlotte. Is that all? Jesus is simply your way of being religious? Would you say in that quote that I just read, that when your friends and neighbors reject Christ, it pains you? Pains you when your friends say “well, why can’t you just let me believe what I believe?” You ought to say “because it pains me to see the Son of the Father not receive the honor that is due His name.”

Men, doesn’t it pain you if someone doesn’t recognize your wife, who she is, what she’s done, her qualities, her attributes, her characteristics? What if your friend said “that’s fine, that’s fine, you, you have, you know, some things you believe about your wife and you believe about her, I believe that all the things you believe about her are wrong. Can’t we just get along?” Surely, you would say, “Um, no, I’m jealous for you to see who she is, and it pains me that you would think she is something that she’s not.”

What is your Jesus like? Is He simply your default way to be religious? Or is He the only begotten Son of the Father, loved by the Father, one in essence with the Father, equal in power, rank, and glory with the Father, the one who does what the Father does, judges for the Father, gives life from the Father, and the one who exists of Himself like the Father, distinct from the Father, but never in His will or in His actions independent from the Father? Do you know that Jesus?

Calvin wrote about Muslims and Jews in his day: “They do indeed adorn with beautiful and magnificent titles the God whom they worship, but we ought to remember that the name of God when it is separated from Christ is nothing else than a vain imagination.”

So Jack Johnson says it sure seems the same with a different name, and I hope, brothers and sisters, you know it is not the same, and there is only one name under heaven given among men by which we can and must be saved: It is the name of Jesus the Christ, the only begotten Son of the Father.

Let’s pray. Father in heaven, by Your Word working by the power of Your spirit, would you grant to us life in Your Son. For any here who do not truly know this Son as He is, may today be their resurrection morning. We pray, Lord, that You would guard against a mere religious sentimentality against a causal cultural default spirituality and amaze us again with this great God we find in the Son. In whose name we pray. Amen.