The dead shall hear the voice - Three kinds of death are mentioned in the Scriptures: natural, spiritual, and eternal.
The first consists in the separation of the body and soul. The second in the separation of God and the soul. The third in the separation of body and soul from God in the other world. Answerable to these three kinds of death, there is a threefold life: Natural life, which consists in the union of the soul and body. Spiritual life, which consists in the union of God and the soul, by faith and love. Eternal life, which consist in the communion of the body and soul with God, by holiness, in the realms of bliss.
Of the dead, our Lord says, the hour is coming, and now is, when they shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and live. The hour is coming, when all that sleep in the dust shall awake at the voice of the Son of man, and come to judgment: for he giveth life to the dead, John 5:21, John 5:28, John 5:29. Again, the hour is coming, when some of those who have died a natural death shall hear the voice of the Son of God and live again here. It is likely that our Lord had not as yet raised any from the dead; and he refers to those whom he intended to raise: see on John 5:21; (note). Lastly, the hour now is, when many who are dead in trespasses and sins, shall hear the voice (the word) of the Son of God, believe, and receive spiritual life through him.
The hour - The time.
Is coming - Under the preaching of the gospel, as well as in the resurrection of the dead.
Now is - It is now taking place. Sinners were converted under his ministry and brought to spiritual life.
The dead - Either the dead in sins, or those that are in their graves. The words of the Saviour will apply to either. Language, in the Scriptures, is often so used as to describe two similar events. Thus the destruction of Jerusalem and the end of the world are described by Jesus in the same language, Isaiah 7:14. The renewal of the heart, and the raising of the dead at the judgment, are here also described in similar language, because they so far resemble each other that the same language will apply to both.
The voice of the Son of God - The voice is that by which we give command. Jesus raised up the dead by his command, or by his authority. When he did it he spoke, or commanded it to be done. Mark 5:41; “he took the damsel by the hand, and said, Talitha cumi Luke 7:14; “and he came and touched the bier, and said, Young man, I say unto thee, Arise.” John 11:43; “he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth.” So it is by his command that those who are dead in sins are quickened or made alive, John 5:21. And so at the day of judgment the dead will be raised by his command or voice, though there is no reason to think that his voice will be audibly heard, John 5:28. Shall live - Shall be restored to life.”
Shall live - Shall be restored to life.”
“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.” Mark 1:14, 15. DA 231.1
The Messiah's coming had been first announced in Judea. In the temple at Jerusalem the birth of the forerunner had been foretold to Zacharias as he ministered before the altar. On the hills of Bethlehem the angels had proclaimed the birth of Jesus. To Jerusalem the magi had come in search of Him. In the temple Simeon and Anna had testified to His divinity. “Jerusalem, and all Judea” had listened to the preaching of John the Baptist; and the deputation from the Sanhedrin, with the multitude, had heard his testimony concerning Jesus. In Judea, Christ had received His first disciples. Here much of His early ministry had been spent. The flashing forth of His divinity in the cleansing of the temple, His miracles of healing, and the lessons of divine truth that fell from His lips, all proclaimed that which after the healing at Bethesda He had declared before the Sanhedrin,—His Sonship to the Eternal. DA 231.2
If the leaders in Israel had received Christ, He would have honored them as His messengers to carry the gospel to the world. To them first was given the opportunity to become heralds of the kingdom and grace of God. But Israel knew not the time of her visitation. The jealousy and distrust of the Jewish leaders had ripened into open hatred, and the hearts of the people were turned away from Jesus. DA 231.3Read in context »
Upon one Sabbath day, as the Saviour and His disciples returned from the place of worship, they passed through a field of ripening grain. Jesus had continued His work to a late hour, and while passing through the fields, the disciples began to gather the heads of grain, and to eat the kernels after rubbing them in their hands. On any other day this act would have excited no comment, for one passing through a field of grain, an orchard, or a vineyard, was at liberty to gather what he desired to eat. See Deuteronomy 23:24, 25. But to do this on the Sabbath was held to be an act of desecration. Not only was the gathering of the grain a kind of reaping, but the rubbing of it in the hands was a kind of threshing. Thus, in the opinion of the rabbis, there was a double offense. DA 284.1
The spies at once complained to Jesus, saying, “Behold, Thy disciples do that which is not lawful to do upon the Sabbath day.” DA 284.2
When accused of Sabbathbreaking at Bethesda, Jesus defended Himself by affirming His Sonship to God, and declaring that He worked in harmony with the Father. Now that the disciples are attacked, He cites His accusers to examples from the Old Testament, acts performed on the Sabbath by those who were in the service of God. DA 284.3Read in context »
The rulers were silenced; and many of the people exclaimed, “Is not this He, whom they seek to kill? But, lo, He speaketh boldly, and they say nothing unto Him. Do the rulers know indeed that this is the very Christ?” DA 457.1
Many among Christ's hearers who were dwellers at Jerusalem, and who were not ignorant of the plots of the rulers against Him, felt themselves drawn to Him by an irresistible power. The conviction pressed upon them that He was the Son of God. But Satan was ready to suggest doubt; and for this the way was prepared by their own erroneous ideas of the Messiah and His coming. It was generally believed that Christ would be born at Bethlehem, but that after a time He would disappear, and at His second appearance none would know whence He came. There were not a few who held that the Messiah would have no natural relationship to humanity. And because the popular conception of the glory of the Messiah was not met by Jesus of Nazareth, many gave heed to the suggestion, “Howbeit we know this Man whence He is: but when Christ cometh, no man knoweth whence He is.” DA 457.2
While they were thus wavering between doubt and faith, Jesus took up their thoughts and answered them: “Ye both know Me, and ye know whence I am: and I am not come of Myself, but He that sent Me is true, whom ye know not.” They claimed a knowledge of what the origin of Christ should be, but they were in utter ignorance of it. If they had lived in accordance with the will of God, they would have known His Son when He was manifested to them. DA 457.3
The hearers could not but understand Christ's words. Clearly they were a repetition of the claim He had made in the presence of the Sanhedrin many months before, when He declared Himself the Son of God. As the rulers then tried to compass His death, so now they sought to take Him; but they were prevented by an unseen power, which put a limit to their rage, saying to them, Thus far shalt thou go, and no farther. DA 457.4
Among the people many believed on Him, and they said, “When Christ cometh, will He do more miracles than these which this Man hath done?” The leaders of the Pharisees, who were anxiously watching the course of events, caught the expressions of sympathy among the throng. Hurrying away to the chief priests, they laid their plans to arrest Him. They arranged, however, to take Him when He was alone; for they dared not seize Him in the presence of the people. Again Jesus made it manifest that He read their purpose. “Yet a little while am I with you,” He said, “and then I go unto Him that sent Me. Ye shall seek Me, and shall not find Me: and where I am, thither ye cannot come.” Soon He would find a refuge beyond the reach of their scorn and hate. He would ascend to the Father, to be again the Adored of the angels; and thither His murderers could never come. DA 457.5Read in context »
The Jews had so perverted the law that they made it a yoke of bondage. Their meaningless requirements had become a byword among other nations. Especially was the Sabbath hedged in by all manner of senseless restrictions. It was not to them a delight, the holy of the Lord, and honorable. The scribes and Pharisees had made its observance an intolerable burden. A Jew was not allowed to kindle a fire nor even to light a candle on the Sabbath. As a consequence the people were dependent upon the Gentiles for many services which their rules forbade them to do for themselves. They did not reflect that if these acts were sinful, those who employed others to perform them were as guilty as if they had done the work themselves. They thought that salvation was restricted to the Jews, and that the condition of all others, being already hopeless, could be made no worse. But God has given no commandments which cannot be obeyed by all. His laws sanction no unreasonable or selfish restrictions. DA 204.1
In the temple Jesus met the man who had been healed. He had come to bring a sin offering and also a thank offering for the great mercy he had received. Finding him among the worshipers, Jesus made Himself known, with the warning words, “Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee.” DA 204.2
The healed man was overjoyed at meeting his Deliverer. Ignorant of the enmity toward Jesus, he told the Pharisees who had questioned him, that this was He who had performed the cure. “Therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to slay Him, because He had done these things on the Sabbath day.” DA 204.3
Jesus was brought before the Sanhedrin to answer the charge of Sabbathbreaking. Had the Jews at this time been an independent nation, such a charge would have served their purpose for putting Him to death. This their subjection to the Romans prevented. The Jews had not the power to inflict capital punishment, and the accusations brought against Christ would have no weight in a Roman court. There were other objects, however, which they hoped to secure. Notwithstanding their efforts to counteract His work, Christ was gaining, even in Jerusalem, an influence over the people greater than their own. Multitudes who were not interested in the harangues of the rabbis were attracted by His teaching. They could understand His words, and their hearts were warmed and comforted. He spoke of God, not as an avenging judge, but as a tender father, and He revealed the image of God as mirrored in Himself. His words were like balm to the wounded spirit. Both by His words and by His works of mercy He was breaking the oppressive power of the old traditions and man-made commandments, and presenting the love of God in its exhaustless fullness. DA 204.4Read in context »
To His Son the Father has committed all judgment. Christ will declare the reward of loyalty. “The Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son.... And hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man.” Christ accepted humanity and lived on this earth a pure, sanctified life. For this reason He has received the appointment of judge. He who occupies the position of judge is God manifest in the flesh. What a joy it will be to recognize in Him our Teacher and Redeemer, bearing still the marks of the crucifixion, from which shine beams of glory, giving additional value to the crowns which the redeemed receive from His hands, the very hands outstretched in blessing over His disciples as He ascended. The very voice which said, “Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world,” bids His ransomed ones welcome to His presence. The very One who gave His precious life for them, who by His grace moved their hearts to repentance, who awakened them to their need of repentance, receives them now into His joy. Oh, how they love Him! The realization of their hope is infinitely greater than their expectation. Their joy is complete, and they take their glittering crowns and cast them at their Redeemer's feet.... LHU 348.2Read in context »
That God should thus be manifest in the flesh is indeed a mystery; and without the help of the Holy Spirit we cannot hope to comprehend this subject. The most humbling lesson that man has to learn is the nothingness of human wisdom, and the folly of trying, by his own unaided efforts, to find out God. He may exert his intellectual powers to the utmost, he may have what the world calls a superior education, yet he may still be ignorant in God's eyes. The ancient philosophers boasted of their wisdom; but how did it weigh in the scale with God? Solomon had great learning; but his wisdom was foolishness; for he did not know how to stand in moral independence, free from sin, in the strength of a character molded after the divine similitude. Solomon has told us the result of his research, his painstaking efforts, his persevering inquiry. He pronounces his wisdom altogether vanity. 1SM 249.1
By wisdom the world knew not God. Their estimation of the divine character, their imperfect knowledge of His attributes, did not enlarge and expand their mental conception. Their minds were not ennobled in conformity to the divine will, but they plunged into the grossest idolatry. “Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things” (Romans 1:22, 23). This is the worth of all requirements and knowledge apart from Christ. 1SM 249.2
“I am the way, the truth, and the life,” Christ declares: “no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6). Christ is invested with power to give life to all creatures. “As the living Father hath sent me,” He says, “and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me.” “It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life” (John 6:57, 63). Christ is not here referring to His doctrine, but to His person, the divinity of His character. “Verily, verily, I say unto you,” He says again, “The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live. For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself; and hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man” (John 5:25-27). 1SM 249.3Read in context »