“For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it …
“I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life. I tell you the truth, a time is coming and has now come 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 to have life in himself …
“Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out – those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned.” (verses 21, 24-26, 28-29)
“Then Jesus said to him, ‘Get up! Pick up your mat and walk” (John 5:8). The echo of those words, spoken to the invalid at the side of the pool, keeps reverberating over this entire passage.
“Get up!”, Jesus said – and the man did. Later, Jesus will use the very same word again when he declares, “the Father raises the dead” (verse 21). His voice at the pool that day was a powerful preview of what the Father himself does.
“Get up” is a single Greek word that is regularly used in the Gospel records to speak of resurrection. Jesus uses it when he sends his disciples on mission and tells them to “raise the dead” (Matthew 10:8). So, too, when he sends a report back to John the Baptist that “the dead are raised” (Matthew 11:5). Though his disciples didn’t seem to understand, Jesus used this word multiple times to tell them in advance that on the third day he would “be raised to life” (e.g. Luke 9:22). So, too, the whole discussion earlier in John (John 2:19-22) about Jesus destroying the temple and raising it again in three days, together with John’s editorial note that he was speaking about his body, even though the disciples only understood this “after he was raised from the dead.” Later, when Lazarus is referred to again and again as being “raised from the dead” (John 12:1, 9, 17), it’s this very word that John uses. And at the tomb the angel speaks this powerful word that has been ringing through history ever since: “He is not here; he has risen!” (Luke 24:6).
It is no mistake, then, that Jesus speaks this particular word of command to the man at the pool who had no hope whatsoever of rising to his feet in his own power. “Get up!”
The power of that command would still be ringing clear when Jesus went on to say, “Just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it” (verse 21). He’s just given an acted parable of that reality. So we know the power of that voice and can heartily believe when he goes on to say, “the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live” (verse 25). Yes – “Get up!” The man getting to his feet is a clear picture of a coming day when authority will ring out over all creation and “all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out” (verses 28-29). Yes!
But not everyone rejoices. The religious leaders are deeply offended that Jesus would speak such a powerful word on the Sabbath. They’re not any happier when Jesus claims his powerful voice extends into all eternity. For them it only increases their offense. But John, recording it here, means us to hear it and believe.
“Get up!” Yes, Lord Jesus. Amen! May it be.
Praise you, Lord – your voice is stronger than death. You have authority to speak resurrection. You bring life. I receive your presence. Gladly.
Reflect: Where in your experience do you need new life at the moment? Bring it to the Lord. Ask for his intervention. Submit to his voice.