We are now heading into the heart of the Gospel of John and we should ponder carefully the profound sayings of our Lord. Jesus speaks in the present tense because, in a sense, there is no passage of time with him and his Father. We saw this in the first chapter, Jesus “the word” that “was in the beginning with God” (1:2). That “word (of promise) became flesh” and now we ponder his words and should value them.
The more we read and meditate and carefully fit the pieces together, the clearer the meaning becomes. God has created words for the world, which are a lifelong study for those who seek Him. Jesus tells them, “For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will” (5:21). What and when is this “life” the Son gives? Verse 24 challenges our understanding, “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”.
We may be inclined to think he means the time of the resurrection, but the next verse tells us, “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”.
Paul tells the Ephesians “you were dead in trespasses and sins” (2:1), help us to slot this piece of the jigsaw into place. It is the spiritually dead who hear and who live – so everyone has the need to hear and then respond! Jesus taught this lesson to Nicodemus (John 3:3-12). A spiritual rebirth is essential, not just being “born of water”, Jesus told him.
Today’s chapter reveals how God sees the overall picture: following genuine rebirth, names are entered into “the book of life” and as long as they remain there, then he or she “has eternal life” from God’s way of seeing the situation. But names can be blotted out of “the book of life” (see Revelation 3:5), as happened to Judas Iscariot.
Later in today’s chapter there is the wondrous picture of the resurrection! How close are we now to that time when, “all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life” (verses 25-29). May we all “hear his voice” – but we need to “hear” it now and, in our lives, show that we have heard it.