Jesus chose often to perform miracles or other works on the Sabbath. We must remember that Jesus was, and still is, intentional in everything He did and He follows His Father’s instructions. A likely explanation is that Jesus is deliberately provoking the Pharisees by confronting them with their own hypocrisy. Jesus is able to explain His mission and reveal the cold truth behind their so-called faith in God. By doing this, He breaks their traditions, and so, in their questioning they attempt to, but fail, to persecute Him.
The Authority of the Son
16 So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jewish leaders began to persecute him. 17 In his defense Jesus said to them, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working.” 18 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.
19 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. 20 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. 21 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. 22 Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, 23 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.
24 “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. 25 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. 26 For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. 27 And he has given him authority to judge because he is the Son of Man.
28 “Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice 29 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. 30 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.
After healing a man on the Sabbath, Jesus is confronted for violating traditions laid out by the Mosaic law (or the laws of Moses) and for claiming to be equal to God. Jesus claims many of the attributes of God the Father such as power, judgment, love, and honour of God. Jesus also says that those who reject His message will be dishonouring the Father and only those who believe Him and believe in Him will have eternal life.
The Pharisees make the mistake of focusing on the law and not focusing on the miracle Jesus had performed on the lame man. Jesus mounts a defense against these hypocrites – by immediately claiming not only that God is His Father, but that He is working just as God is working. He makes the presentation of His divine nature.
Equal to God
Jesus is not only telling the Pharisees but also other people that He is God. If that’s not true, it would be considered blasphemy, and this fuels the fire of hatred He receives from the Pharisees.
Jesus continues His defense of His ministry in verse 19. More specifically, the Pharisees challenge Him on two major points: First, Jesus is in violation of their traditional view of the Sabbath (v16) and secondly, by doing so, Jesus makes a claim to be equal with God (v18). Jesus doesn’t back off, He continues to make more very specific claims about how equal He is with His Father.
Can you imagine being there, seeing the anger building up in the Pharisees the more Jesus speaks and makes these claims?
Equal in Love
In verse 20, Jesus continues – He claims to have equal love to God the Father. In context, this is understood as the same as verse 19 regarding works. The Father and the Son, God and Jesus, are one and in perfect harmony with each other. The Pharisees, however were spiritually blind – a blindness that created a wall of separation between them and God. Actions speak louder than words, but the actions of the Pharisees did not reflect the Father’s will. They were too concerned with the laws and persecuting those who broke them. Jesus, being who He is, is in an opposite state to the Pharisees, He is in perfect love and communion with God, making His actions in perfect alignment with God’s will. Jesus goes on to say that the Father has much more, much greater works in store.
This conversation is quickly becoming a sensitive subject for the Pharisees. The laws are being broken and they are just waiting for the right moment to crack Jesus. But Jesus is ready for them – ALWAYS.
Equal in Power
Verse 21, Jesus continues to have the same power reserved for God. The power over life and death, in the Old Testament is recongnised as belonging to God alone (2 Kings 5:6-8). Here Jesus claims the same authority, stating His own divinity, stating He too gives life as the Father does.
In Jesus choosing a man who was lame for 38 years to be healed, a man who did not know Jesus and did not know of His power and divinity. In choosing this man, Jesus shows this man as an example of God’s sovereignty – Jesus chooses, as the Father would, when He will intervene and when He will not intervene, including the ability to raise the physically and spiritually dead.
Equal in Judgement
Genesis tells us that God judges all things. Jesus claims (v22) that He has the same divine judgement as the Father; having the right to issue verdicts given to Him by God. This right, is harmonious with the power over life and death.
Equal in Honour
Verse 23, “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.” – is a very important point. It relates to salvation but also to who Christ is and exactly His relation to God. Jesus has thus far pointed out that He is equal to God in works, love and judgement, including authority over life and death. Now Jesus ties all these points together with a “ribbon”, a gift wrapped for the Pharisees to go chew on (which we know they still reject). This verse makes it clear that the Father expects Jesus to be given the same honour in the same way God is honoured. Given Jesus claims to be equal in all things to the Father, this would make sense. Rejecting the divinity of Christ means you reject God himself.
Jesus equals God in works, love, judgment and honour.
God, Himself, is Spirit. He more complex than a physical being, and is not limited to any one physical location. Being created in God’s image is not have similar physical characteristics of God, but rather similar spiritual, moral and rational characteristics of God. We have souls and spirits, our souls give us the moral, emotional and rational characteristics allows us to know the difference between right and wrong and to rationlise and reason with any circumstance and our spirits connect us to God through the Holy Spirit allowing us to discern God’s will for our lives.
Very Truly I tell you
Notice how Jesus has used “very truly I tell you” three times in this passage of scripture? The original Hebrew word, which Jesus uses in the Hebrew manuscripts is amēn, which means trustworthy; surely, implying that Jesus knowledge is absolute, first-hand and undeniable. Verse 24, where Jesus uses this phrase again is a reference to salvation. Our salvation is spiritual: to be rescued from spiritual death, separation from God, we need to be rescued, and Jesus is the key to our salvation. Jesus demonstrates many aspects of His divinity. The healing of the crippled man, later on in this Gospel, He proves His power over death by raising Lazarus from the dead, He also shows how complete this power is by rising from the grave Himself.
And, at some point in the future, Jesus Christ will call all of the dead out of their graves, for eternal judgment (John 5:28–29).
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