Sermon Discussion Questions John 5:18-29

Hey leaders,
Here’s a recap on this last week’s message. I hope it’s helpful in your own preparation process. Since a lot of this study will have to do with the relationship between God the Father, God the Son, and (implicitly) God the Holy Spirit, I would urge you to spend some time praying for the Spirit to come and reveal his truth to you and your group this week and ask him to show you where to apply these truths before you launch into the study.

Teaching Goal: Jesus imitates God the Father as Healer, Giver of Life, and Judge.

Application Goal: That when we know who Jesus is, we are able to imitate him in our lives in such a way that it brings other people to life.


The message this last week was all about how Jesus the Son imitates God the Father. To some degree, we all imitate our parents. What are some of the things that you imitate from your parents that you’re thankful for? What are some things that you imitate from your parents that you previously thought you’d never do?

Background info:

In the preceding section in John 5, Jesus healed a lame man and had him take up his bed and walk. The Pharisees ignored the fact that a man was just healed from his infirmity, and instead took issue with him for carrying something on the Sabbath. They later became enraged that Jesus would dare to heal someone on the Sabbath. This sets the stage for Jesus’ interaction with the Pharisees and his explanation of his relationship with the Father.

Read John 5:15-20

It says in v.18 that they wanted to kill Jesus because he made himself equal with God. Does Jesus deny this allegation? (No). What does he do instead? (Explains his relationship with the Father).

What do we learn about Jesus’ relationship with the Father in this passage?

  • They both work (v.17), the Son is not independent of the Father (v.19), the Son imitates the Father (v.19), the Father loves the Son (v.20a) and reveals everything that he is doing to him (v.20b).

What do we learn about how Jesus is imitating the Father in this passage?

  • 17 “My Father is working until now, and I am working”

Specifically, Jesus is referring to why he did the work of healing on the Sabbath. We learn from the creation account in Genesis 1 and 2 that after the work of creation was done God “rested” from his work. The Sabbath commandment points back to that event (Exodus 20:8-11) when God told the Israelites to honor his work of creation by resting.

What do you think Jesus means when he says “My Father is working until now”?

  • At one level, it refers to God’s act of sustaining creation (see Hebrews 1:1-3)
  • Another thought here is that the original Sabbath was lost by the introduction of sin into creation. Ever since that time God has been working toward restoring the good creation he made that the Sabbath points to (Hebrews 4:9, Revelation 14:13).

How does knowing that God is at work for us help us to experience true rest?
Do you feel like you have this kind of rest in your life?

How can we imitate Jesus as he imitates the Father in healing?

  • A few answers could be: Being a community of healing from brokenness, praying for healing for physical, emotional, and spiritual needs, etc. Bearing one another’s burdens… 

Read John 5:20-29

There are two themes that Jesus addresses throughout the rest of this passage, so we’ll look at both of them: (1) Jesus imitates the Father by raising the dead; (2) Jesus imitates the Father by Judging

Jesus imitates the Father by raising the dead

Have people read aloud all the verses where Jesus talks about raising the dead in this passage

  • 21, 24, 25, 28, 29

According to verse 20b, why does Jesus tell us about his ability to raise the dead and give spiritual life?

  • So that we might marvel

As a group, talk to each other about the glories of the resurrection. What makes it important to you? Work on marveling at what God is doing in the resurrection! Contemplate the fact that he sent his Son to be the firstfruits of it (1 Corinthians 15:23). Honestly, for all I care you and your group could stay here and not even get the rest of the study if you spend time marveling at the resurrection.

If you do move on, follow up with this question: How can we “imitate” Jesus the way he imitates the Father when it comes to the resurrection?

  • 25 “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.”
  • We can imitate the way Jesus imitates the Father by being obedient in bringing the Word of Christ, which is God’s power for raising the spiritually dead to life, to those in our lives. God can raise the dead through us by the preaching of the gospel (see previous verse, John 5:24, John 6:63,68, John 20:30-31, Romans 1:16).

Lastly, Jesus imitates God the Father as a Judge.

Read the verses that speak of Jesus being a Judge:

  • 22, 24, 27, 28, 29

For starters, we have to notice that the resurrection and judgment are inextricably linked. Judgment is typically thought of as a bad thing; if anyone knows anything about the teachings of Jesus, it’s to not judge (Matthew 7:1).

Why is it good that Jesus is Judge?

  • It’s the foundation for our own ability to “turn the other cheek” (Romans 12:19-21)
  • It means that there’s actually purpose to our world, it’s not just random stuff happening all the time, some of which is ok and a lot of which that just plain sucks.
  • It means that evil will be punished, which is a good thing. It’s also a bad thing, because we do evil things. Which is why it’s so amazing that the Judge himself became the Defendant and was found guilty on our behalf so that we could experience the resurrection of life (v.29, 2 Corinthians 5:21).

There are many religions whose beliefs make Jesus to be something less than what is portrayed here. Adherents of eastern religions are happy to view Jesus as a philosopher or a good moral teacher. Western religions will recognize him as a prophet (Islam) or even a god-like being (as is the case with Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons), but Jesus’ words in John 5 don’t seem to leave room for these interpretations (never mind the rest of the Gospel of John).

Why is it important for us to have a proper understanding of who Jesus is?

  • Essentially it boils down to v.23b (“Whoever does not honor the Son [you could argue, “for who he is”] does not honor the Father who sent him.”)

Think through some implications of how Jesus’ imitation of the Father and his role as a Judge have implications on our lives.

  • Here are some thoughts:
  • We can be peaceful like Christ because we know he will judge
  • We can become servants/lay our lives down for others (including enemies) like Christ because we know that he will judge
  • We can warn others of the judgment of Christ and share the fact that he will grant amnesty to anyone who trusts in him for salvation
  • We can grow in our own understanding of righteousness by looking to Christ, and then working toward restoration in our own communities because he is a perfect Judge