The Sermon Notes of Harold Buls

The Sermon Notes of Harold Buls

On the Gospel Lessons of the Ingrian Lutheran Church of Russia

Text from John 5:31-39

Advent 4

1. Read all of John 5. The feast in verse 1 is very likely the Passover. At this point Jesus had been in His public ministry one and one-half years. Two years later He suffered and died at the time of the Passover. From John we know that Jesus' ministry lasted three and one-half years. The four Passovers are found at 2:13; 5:1; 6:4 and 13:1.

2. Jesus healed the lame man on the Sabbath Day. The Sabbath was a day of rest. Exodus 20:8-11. Verse 11 mentions that God rested on the seventh day after creation. That reminds us of Hebrews 4:4-16. As God rested on the seventh day, so His people were to rest on that day. Sabbath means "rest." We know from Hebrews 4:4-16 that the Sabbath day was a shadow of Christ who was to come (Colossians 2:16-17). The Sabbath Day was to be a foretaste of eternal rest. When Christ came the Sabbath Day passed away. Now Christ is our Sabbath every day and forever. Cf. Matthew 11:28.

3. But the Jewish authorities found fault with Jesus because He did a deed of mercy on the Sabbath. The Jewish authorities had perverted the purpose and use of the Sabbath. They made many rules which the people were to observe on the Sabbath Day in order that they might gain salvation by their works.

4. All four Gospels dwell on the Sabbath conflicts between the Jewish authorities and Jesus. Jesus purposely did deeds of mercy on the Sabbath to confront the authorities with their false teachings. In each case the authorities always denied the divinity of Jesus. Verse 18 tells us: "The Jews began seeking to kill Jesus because not only was He breaking the Sabbath but also because He was saying that God was His Father, thereby making Himself equal to God." Jesus was not breaking the Sabbath but He was saying that He was true God. For this reason he Jewish authorities began to plot Jesus' death already two years before He actually died.

5. To this day the orthodox Jews celebrate the Sabbath Day and they deny that Jesus was the Son of God. No wonder John says at 1:11: "He came to His own (people) but His own (people) did not receive Him."

6. While Jesus was growing up He stood in the favor of both God and man. See Luke 2:52. When He preached His first sermon in Nazareth (Luke 4:16-30) at first everyone was very friendly to Him. But when Jesus testified that He was the Son of God people began to hate Him. And that hatred led to His death. But no one took Jesus' life from Him. John 10:18 tells us: "No one takes it (My life) from Me. But I lay it down of My own accord. I have the authority to lay it down and I have the authority to take it again." Jesus died willingly and He raised Himself from the dead.

7. Jesus spoke some of His most memorable words in situations of great hostility from His enemies. Cf. His seven last words on the cross. Cf. What He says of Himself as the Good Shepherd at John 10:11-16. Cf. His words about Himself as the Light of the World. John 8:11. And Cf. John 5:39 "Search the Scriptures" a well-known word from Jesus' lips. And just as Jesus spoke memorable words in spite of the hatred of His enemies, so we should always be witnesses of Jesus. Someone may remember our words and thus be saved.

8. Read Article VIII, The Epitome (Buls' lectures) on the Person of Christ.

9. John 5:21 tells us that Christ, according to His human nature, received divine and infinite qualities.

10. Jesus often said to a forgiven or healed sinner: "Sin no more." (John 5:14). He means: "Do not sin knowingly or deliberately." A true Christian fights sin and temptation.

11. Verses 18-47 are an exposition of Verse 17. Two things are stressed: Jesus' works (miracles) and the testimony of Jesus, the Baptist and the Scriptures. The miracles of Jesus and the word of God constantly tell us: "Jesus is true God and the Savior of all."

The Sermon Outline of Harold Buls

Text from John 5:31-39

Advent 4

THEME: This Man Is True God


Jesus is the greatest and best-known man in history. All dates in history are reckoned from His birth and life. He is the only One who can actually trace His lineage to Adam. Luke 3:37. He is the only One who did not sin. Hebrews 7:26. Only of him did God say: "In You I am well pleased." Luke 3:22. Only He was born of a virgin. Matthew 1:23. Only He could raise Himself from the dead. John 10:18. Only He could take away the sins of the world. John 1:29. And He is the best attested man in history. There were five who testified about Jesus.


Not long before Jesus met His death His enemies said to Him: "How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly." John 10:24. Jesus answered: "I have told you but you don't believe. The works which I do in My Father's name testify about Me. But you don't believe because you are not of My sheep. My sheep hear my voice." There are many instances in the Gospel like John 4:26 where He told the woman from Sychar that He was the Messiah. But notice that Jesus immediately tells His enemies (John 10:24) that His works (miracles) testify about Him. By word and deed Jesus testified about Himself. "Are you the King of the Jews?" "Yes." Matthew 27:11. "Are you the Son of God?" "Yes." Luke 22:70.


Jesus reminds His enemies about what the Baptist had said concerning Jesus. He was only a voice, not the Messiah. He told the people to prepare for the coming of Christ. They were to confess their sins and believe the Gospel of forgiveness. Read John 1:19-28. Jesus reminds His enemies that John had testified about Him. John had made it very clear that he was only the humble servant of the Messiah. And the next day he said: "Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world." We sing this verse every time we go to communion. Only Jesus the God-man can forgive us our sins. But how did Jesus' enemies treat John? Read verse 35. Like insects, playing near a light, they listened to John for awhile and then forgot him. We should not forget what John said about Jesus.


After Jesus performed His first miracle (turning water into wine, John 2:1-10) we are told that in this way He showed forth the glory of God. That means that His miracles proved that He was the Son of God. When Jesus healed the lame man in our text, Jesus' enemies said that He was making Himself equal to God. Of course He was. When Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead (John 11) Jesus' enemies tried their best to deny His miracles. Also John 9, the healing of the blind man. Unbelievers always refuse the testimony of Jesus' miracles. They gnash their teeth. But the miracles of Jesus' are very precious to believers. They increase their faith. John 2:11. Jesus has already raised me from the dead. John 5:25; Ephesians 2:1-7.


Those who do not receive Jesus do not have the Word of God, the testimony of the Father, in them. Those who do receive and believe in Jesus do receive the Father's testimony concerning Jesus. The Father often said: "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Listen to Him." Matthew 3:17; John 12:28; Luke 9:35.


We should read and study the Bible for only ONE purpose, to learn more about Jesus. The prophecies, promises, shadows and types of the Old Testament all point us to Jesus Christ. See Luke 24:27; Acts 10:43. Therefore St. Paul says: "We preach Christ, crucified." I Corinthians 1:23. "I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified." I Corinthians 2:2.

This text was converted to ascii format for Project Wittenberg by Mary Grady and is in the public domain. You may freely distribute, copy or print this text. Please direct any comments or suggestions to: Rev. Robert E. Smith of the Walther Library at Concordia Theological Seminary.

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