Televangelists and faith healers come to mind. Has there ever been a more despicable sort of bloodsucker? They use the desperate, the ill, the old, the ones afraid of dying without God, and steal their money and their minds, basking in the adoration of distressed souls who want just one last vestige of health and a moment of relieved peace before their deaths. Yes, a lot of it is their own fault. If they knew and loved the Word of God as they should they would not have been deluded so as to “believe a lie” (2 Thes 2:9-11). Yet Satan’s ministers are good-looking, amiable, charismatic people, and even the good-hearted can be deceived if they aren’t careful (2 Cor 11:13-15).
But the worst are surely the walking dead. For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will, John 5:21. Notice, Jesus said this well before he ever raised anyone from the dead. Most commentators believe he was talking here about raising the spiritually dead, and the full context proves them correct.
How are we dead? Most of us can easily quote passages saying we were once “dead in sin,” but Jesus was talking to the Jews of the day, God’s people.
Verse 16 tells us these people were seeking to kill Jesus because he healed on the Sabbath. They understood when it suited them that healing on the Sabbath was not a sin; they did the same for their animals. But their traditions outweighed the clear dictum of the Law to “love thy neighbor as thyself.” In another healing, Jesus quite purposefully called the woman who was bowed together a “daughter of Abraham” in order to shame the ruler who did not want her healed (Luke 13:15,16). Follow the man born blind in John 9 and see the ridiculous lengths they went to in order to condemn a man who could heal as no one ever had before. Why, this is an amazing thing! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes, John 9:30. Even Jesus was amazed at their determination not to see his obvious origins, and therefore his authority to heal whenever he pleased.
That determination is shown earlier in John 5. They clearly understood that Jesus claimed a relationship with God that was above and beyond their own, yet despite the works he did, and thus the witness shown by God through those works, they denied that witness, one that shone clearly to any who dared to actually see.
Those people who thought they were the one true people of God, following the one true Law, couldn’t even tell when God was among them. What did Jesus have to say about that? Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him, John 5:24. Don’t count on your pedigree in the faith. Don’t count on following the rules. These people had the first (Abraham is our father, John 8:39), and did the second, but Jesus says to them, 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, John 5:24. He was calling them dead, yet they were still on this earth walking around, still in charge of God’s people, a people they disdained, John 7:48,49.
How are we doing as a people of God? Do we truly listen, or have we become nothing more than a self-righteous, unloving group that prides itself on having been baptized and following a set of rules, including a bunch we devised ourselves and then judge others for not keeping. As sad as it is, we have the walking dead still among us, and some people think they are heroes.
“And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: ‘The words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. “‘I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God. Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you, Rev 3:1-4.