“The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had healed him. And this was why the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because he was doing these things on the Sabbath. But Jesus answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I am working.”
This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.”
– John 5:15-18
The healing of this paralyzed man on the Sabbath starts a fire of controversy in Jerusalem, the ministry of Jesus, and among His followers. Not only is his healing by Jesus seen as “work” on the Sabbath, (which was considered sin) but He also calls God His “Father.”
Now this is normal for Christians today to call God “Father.” Jesus models this in the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6. We talk about God as our “Daddy” “Abba” “Father.” However, in Jesus’ time, calling God “Father” is so intimate, relational, and close that it shocks and angers the Jews. This was just not done. God was not spoken of in this way. God was considered distant, holy, set apart, exalted, separate. No human relationship can contain the depth and power of God’s relationship with us.
Don’t misunderstand me – God is holy, set apart, exalted. But by calling God His Father, Jesus is claiming an intimate relationship with God. Jesus is saying that God loves us, cares for us, provides for us, shepherds us … God is the Ultimate Father. He is everything a father should be. Jesus’ words went even further (sacrilegious and heretical, in the minds of the religious leaders) because, as the verse says, Jesus was “making himself equal with God.”
Jesus is about to open the door slightly on the concept of the trinity. Now understand this – this is an unbelievably complex and mysterious concept. It is true and good, and yet at the same time, the minute you take it out of it’s original context and try to frame it, explain it, rationalize it, and make it easily understood, you are in danger of changing it into something it is not. Rather than interpret what Jesus is saying, I want you to read it for yourself. Let’s take a look:
“So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing. And greater works than these will he show him, so that you may marvel. For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will. The Father judges no one, but has given 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. 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.
Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, 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 execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man. Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.”
– John 5:19-29
Jesus is equal with God. When the Father acts, Jesus acts (vs 19). And then in verse 22 it tells us that the Father acts in step with the Son. Look at this relationship – it is symbiotic, unified, giving. No one ever has experienced a relationship like this except God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Everything they do, they do for the other. Nothing is selfish, nothing is egotistical, nothing is done out of revenge, spite, selfishness …. It is the perfect relationship. Jesus honors His Father, God gives all judgment to Jesus to dispense, giving honor to Jesus, Who gives all honor back to God. God is constantly pouring out blessing, honor, love and life into Jesus, and Jesus is constantly giving God the glory and praise while He is on Earth. For God to act is for Jesus to act.
The first implication is this – If you do not honor Jesus, you do not honor God (verse 23). John Piper puts it this way: “If you want to know if someone in another religion, or no religion, honors God (has a true worshipful relationship with God), the test that you use to know this is: Do they honor Jesus for who he really is – as the divine Son of God, the Messiah, the crucified and risen Savior of the world, the Lord of the universe and Judge of all human beings? If they don’t, then they don’t honor God.”
The second implication is found in verse 24: If we hear the message of Jesus in it’s entirety and come to trust God as the One who sent Jesus for our salvation, we will have eternal life and we will not come into the judgement of condemnation. In fact, if we hear and respond to the Gospel message, we will already have eternal life AND we will have already passed through judgement, being safe on the other side. Jesus became our judgement for us when He died on the cross.
The question remains – What do you do with Jesus? Because if what Jesus says is true, what you believe about Jesus has direct implications on your relationship with God. You cannot honor God without honoring Jesus Christ. You cannot please God outside of a relationship with Jesus.
The encouragement is this – If you know, love and honor Jesus, sin and death are ALREADY defeated, and eternal life is ALREADY yours. How brave should these promises make you? How secure do these blessings cause you to be? How utterly passionate does this make you feel? The biggest enemies of humanity (sin and death) are defeated, and eternal life is yours forevermore in the presence of your King and Savior. That is why Scripture holds these promises for us. Read them, be encouraged, and cling to Jesus – He is your only Hope, your only Way, your only Truth.
Because of Christ and our faith in him, we can now come boldly and confidently into God’s presence.
And so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus.
1 Timothy 3:13
Those who do well as deacons will be rewarded with respect from others and will have increased confidence in their faith in Christ Jesus.
So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.
“Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.
So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the L ord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.”
1 Corinthians 16:13
Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong.
2 Timothy 1:7
For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.
The wicked run away when no one is chasing them,
but the godly are as bold as lions.