Yesterday we saw Jesus heal a man who had been lame for his whole life and who was waiting in hopeless desperation for someone to come and help him. And at the end of yesterday’s section we saw the religious leaders of Jesus’ day reaction to this miraculous event. For you see the religious leaders were upset that Jesus had healed this man on the Sabbath. And today we are going to see this anger turn into outright persecution.
So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jewish leaders began to persecute him. In his defense Jesus said to them, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working.” For this reason they tried all the more to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.—5:16-18
The Jewish leaders began to persecute Jesus because they thought he broke the Sabbath (though he violated the rules of the religious leaders, not God’s Word). Jesus defended himself by appealing to the fact that he was doing only what his Father does on the Sabbath. The religious leaders understood Jesus to be claiming equality with God, which was blasphemy! They understood his point perfectly and sought to kill him.
Jesus gave them this answer: “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, and he will show him even greater works than these, so that you will be amazed. 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. Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him.—5:19-23
Jesus did not back down but made his claims even more explicit. He openly acknowledged his dependence on the Father. He did what he saw the Father doing. The Father’s love for the Son was why he showed him all he did. As the Father gives life to the dead, the Son can do the same. Furthermore, the Father gave the Son authority to judge so that the Son and the Father can receive the same honor. If anyone does not honor the Son, they dishonor the Father. Again Jesus’ statements were claims to deity.
“Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life. Very truly I tell you, 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 also to have life in himself. And he has given him authority to judge because he is the Son of Man.—5:24-27
Jesus attributed to himself activities previously ascribed only to God: the giving of life and final judgment. Jesus has authority to give spiritual life and judgement in the present. Those who hear his words and believe in him have eternal life as a present reality and will not come into future judgment. The Father has given the Son authority to give life and execute judgment because he—the Son—is the Son of Man.
“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 what is good will rise to live, and those who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned. By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.—5:28-30
Jesus delineated the same two divine prerogatives as those laid out in verses 24-27, expect now they will be executed in the future at the general resurrection of the dead. Jesus’ opponents would have been shocked when he told them that he would call forth the dead at the final resurrection. So while verses 24-25 refer to a spiritual resurrection from spiritual death in the present life, verses 28-30 speak of a future bodily resurrection from the dead. Jesus concluded his comments by again stating his dependence on his Father.
Unfortunately the religious leaders of Jesus’ day understood fully what Jesus was saying, but they chose to ignore all of the evidence that was presented to them about the truth of who Jesus was and who Jesus is. And they chose to ignore all this evidence for one very simple reason: power. And we will pick up from here tomorrow as we finish chapter 5.
Tomorrow’s Bible Readings:
1 Samuel 10-11, John 6:43-71, Psalm 107:1-43 and Proverbs 15:1-3