The Father Honors the Son – John 5:19-30

Even with the Jews seeking to kill Him because of His claim of equality with God (John 5:18), Jesus continues to add fuel to the fire.  Starting in John 5:19, Jesus begins a discourse where He shows in what sense He claims equality with God.

19 Therefore Jesus answered and was saying to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner. (God, the Father, initiates; the Son follows.) 20 For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself is doing; (The unity of the Father and Son is based on love.) and the Father will show Him greater works than these, so that you will marvel. 21 For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son also gives life to whom He wishes. (The Father has given the Son authority over life and death.) 22 For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son, (The Father has given the Son authority to judge.) 23 so that all will honor the Son even as they honor the Father. (We honor the Father by showing honor to the Son.) He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.”

The honor of the Father and the Son are tightly linked.  Jesus is making it clear that no one can refuse the Son’s claims and still say they honor the Father.  This is exactly what Jesus’ opponents were trying to do.  They claimed to be followers of God, but at the same time were seeking to kill the one who claimed to be His Son.  The honor of God the Father and Jesus the Son are inextricably linked.

The application here is not just to the Jews who heard Jesus’ words in the first century.  There is application for us as well.  We cannot call ourselves followers of God without wholeheartedly embracing the Christ He has sent and the message of the Christ He has sent.  Many people want to embrace a portion of Christ’s message; His moral platitudes and ethical teaching.  But if we are to honor the Father, we must honor His Son and embrace the entire message of Christ including His exclusive claim to be the only way to heaven; a claim Jesus expounds on in the very next verse.

24 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.” (For the first of many many times in John chapters 5 through 7, Jesus links “believe” and “eternal life.”  We will look at every one of these verses.  Here the focus is on belief in God and believing that it is He who sent Jesus, the Son.  Jesus identifies Himself, “Me”, as the one sent by God.)

25 “Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. 26 For just as the Father has life in Himself, even so He gave to the Son also to have life in Himself; 27 and He gave Him authority to execute judgment, because He is the Son of Man. 28 Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, 29 and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment.” (More discussion of God granting to Jesus authority over life and death and judgment.)

30 “I can do nothing on My own initiative. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.” (Again, the Father initiates, and I act, because it is God the Father who sent Me and it is God the Father who has given Me my marching orders.)

Jesus Identifies Himself as God’s Equal – John 5:14-18

Continuing the story in John 5:14, Afterward Jesus found him (the man whom He had healed by the pool) in the temple and said to him, “Behold, you have become well; do not sin anymore, so that nothing worse happens to you.” 15 The man went away, and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well. (Now that the healer – the one whose command contradicted the Sabbath rules – has been identified, the focus of the Jews turns to Jesus.) 16 For this reason the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because He was doing these things on the Sabbath. (We are left without much explanation of how the Jewish leaders went from questioning the man who was healed to now persecuting Jesus in such a short span of time, but the bottom line in verse 16 is that the Jews were upset with the “work” Jesus did on the Sabbath.  Rather then just leave it at that, Jesus takes the point of their persecution as a launching pad for His revelation of who He is.  His discourse lasts the rest of chapter 5.)

17 But He answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working.” (In the opening salvo of His response, it is as if Jesus is saying, “You are worried about my Sabbath work?  Here is something even more mind-bending for you.  You say that I should not be doing the healing work I am doing on the Sabbath.  Did you know God Himself is working on the Sabbath?  He is working on the Sabbath because He has never stopped working.  And, oh by the way, did you catch that I called God my Father.  So what I am saying is that God my Father is always working and am only following His example in the healing work I am doing on the Sabbath.”)

Now to bring God into the equation and say, “I can work on the Sabbath because I am only following God’s example” would have been bad enough, but Jesus went so far as to say that the God who is working on the Sabbath is His very Father!

This leads to two charges against Jesus.  The first charge concerns His work on the Sabbath and the second, the greater charge, is His claiming equality with God.  His actual answer in verse 17 may seem short to us, but Jesus obviously said enough for the Jews to get the point and clearly understand what He is saying.  Because the very next verse sums up their reaction. 18 For this reason therefore the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because He not only was breaking the Sabbath, but also was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God.

To the Greek mind, equality with God was no big deal.  They had gods all over the place, and they were mostly just super-powered human forms.  But to the Jewish mind, the line between human and divine was very clear.  And rightfully so.  The entire Old Testament is built on monotheism.  The entire Old Testament is built on the concept that the God we worship is holy, unique, the one and only.  That is why Jesus’ claims to be equal with God stirred such a violent reaction on the part of the Jewish establishment.

Did Jesus ever really claim to be the Son of God or claim equality with God?  Not only do we find it in Jesus’ own words, but the reaction of the Jewish religious leaders makes it clear.  Jesus claimed to be the Son of God, “making Himself equal with God” (Jn 5:18).

Jesus Heals a Lame Man on the Sabbath – John 5:1-13

Starting in John chapter 5, the apostle records a series of confrontations between Jesus and the Jewish religious leaders centered around the shocking claims of Jesus.  His claim to be the Son of God, His claim to be an equal of God, and His claim to be the only Way to eternal life flies in the face of the Messianic expectations of both the religious leaders and the common folk of Jesus’ day.  It is during these confrontations that we learn many things about Jesus Christ, His nature and His work.

As we cover John chapters 5 through 7 over the next several weeks, we will follow a verse-by-verse format where the biblical text is included in red letters in the post (not to be confused with the typical red letters only for the words of Jesus).  My running commentary will be included in black text in and among the Scripture passage.

John 5:1 After these things there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 2 Now there is in Jerusalem by the sheep gate a pool, which is called in Hebrew Bethesda, having five porticoes. 3 In these lay a multitude of those who were sick, blind, lame, and withered, [waiting for the moving of the waters; 4 for an angel of the Lord went down at certain seasons into the pool and stirred up the water; whoever then first, after the stirring up of the water, stepped in was made well from whatever disease with which he was afflicted.] (Verse 3b and 4 are not included in some ancient texts, but the lame man’s answer to Jesus in verse 7 suggests this miraculous stirring of the waters actually happened from time to time.)

5 A man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years. (We assume with some form of paralysis based on his answer to Jesus’ question.) 6 When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he had already been a long time in that condition, He said to him, “Do you wish to get well ?” (This may seem like a rhetorical question on Jesus’ part, but He commonly asked it of the sick.  I think it is to allow the person to express their faith with a “Yes” answer.  After all, on many occasions, Jesus said to those he had just healed, “Your faith has made you well.”  In the same manner, our faith in Jesus is an important ingredient in our salvation as we will see throughout these chapters.)

7 The sick man answered Him, “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, but while I am coming, another steps down before me.” (Somewhere in the man’s answer is a “Yes” based on what Jesus says next.) 8 Jesus said to him, “Get up, pick up your pallet and walk.” 9 Immediately the man became well, and picked up his pallet and began to walk. (Jesus healed the man on the spot and the man responded by obeying Jesus’ command and picked up his pallet – basically a sleeping mat – and walked away.) 

Now it was the Sabbath on that day. (The fact that it was the Sabbath sets the stage for the confrontation that is to come.) 10 So the Jews were saying to the man who was cured, “It is the Sabbath, and it is not permissible for you to carry your pallet.” (According to Jewish tradition, it was unlawful to carry furniture outside your house on the Sabbath, and a sleeping mat was considered furniture) 11 But he answered them, “He who made me well was the one who said to me, ‘Pick up your pallet and walk.’ “ (In this short answer it is unclear if the man was just reporting the facts, or trying to shift the blame to the one who commanded him to take up his sleeping mat, or if the fellow is actually making a statement that I have amazingly just been healed and the command of the one who healed me trumps your lifeless tradition.  At any rate, the man appears to be off the hook as the focus changes to, “Who is the one who gave this command?”) 12 They asked him, “Who is the man who said to you, ‘Pick up your pallet and walk ‘?” 13 But the man who was healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had slipped away while there was a crowd in that place.

There is a pause in the story here as we wait for the healer to be identified.  Will Jesus be found out and confronted?  And will He be on the hot seat for His healing work on the Sabbath?  We will find out next time.