07.01.05 Jn. 5:16-30
RESURRECTION AND LIFE
16 Therefore, the Jews began persecuting Jesus because He was doing these things on the Sabbath. 17 But Jesus responded to them, “My Father is still working, and I am working also.” 18 This is why the Jews began trying 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 Then Jesus replied, “I assure you: The Son is not able to do anything on His own, but only what He sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, the Son also does these things in the same way. 20 For the Father loves the Son and shows Him everything He is doing, and He will show Him greater works than these so that you will be amazed. 21 And just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so the Son also gives life to anyone He wants to. 22 The Father, in fact, judges no one but has given all judgment to the Son, 23 so that all people will honor the Son just as they honor the Father. Anyone who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.
24 “I assure you: Anyone who hears My word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life and will not come under judgment but has passed from death to life. 25“I assure 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.
26 For just as the Father has life in Himself, so also He has granted to the Son to have life in Himself. 27 And He has granted Him the right to pass judgment, because He is the Son of Man.
28 Do not be amazed at this, because a time is coming when all who are in the graves will hear His voice 29 and come out — those who have done good things, to the resurrection of life, but those who have done wicked things, to the resurrection of judgment.
30 “I can do nothing on My own. I judge only as I hear, and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.
In this narrative, Jesus stated His equality with God the Father. This was utterly unprecedented in Jewish and pagan history, and demonstrates the unique divine character of Jesus. No one who desired to be a messiah would ever dream of equating himself with God – especially to the Jewish people. But Antiochus IV Epiphanies did this in the second century B.C., and he was hated by everyone, including his own Greek people.
“Jews began persecuting Jesus.” As the differences between the establishment of Jerusalem and Jesus became more intense, persecution began at the highest levels of Judaism – the upper echelon of Pharisees and the Sadducees. The irony is that while the leaders were rejecting Jesus, His popularity was growing. The religious legalism had become the choking point in everyone’s spiritual life. Their rigid and prideful rules exalted themselves, not God (Lk. 18:9-14).
“My Father is still working.” Since a boy or young man was considered equal to his father, when Jesus referred to God as “My Father,” He claimed equality with God. Furthermore, when He said “I work,” He claimed to be the Son of God in the sense that He had the power and right of working as God works. These statements were thought to be blasphemous. Nonetheless, the question was not whether Jesus possessed power to do these things, but it was whether He exercised His power agreeably to the will of the Father or in opposition to Him. Jesus answered them accordingly.
In Hebrew thinking, the oldest son was always considered to be equal with his father. Hence, when Jesus referred to “My Father,” Jesus was obviously not speaking of His earthly father, who probably had passed away by this time, but His heavenly Father. Therefore, the Jews understood Jesus to say that He was equal to God in heaven. Then He stated that God is always at work to keep the universe running and He, Jesus, is part of that work. Given this context, it is easy to understand why they were so vehemently upset with Him.
“The Son is not able to do anything on His own.” The Fourth Evangelist recorded these interesting words that reflect upon the Sonship and mission of Jesus (vv. 30-47). This statement is not inconsistent with His deity, but rather, there are five main ideas presented here:
- The dependence of the Son upon the Father (v. 19),
- The life-giving mission of the Son (v. 21, 24-26, 28-29), and
- The judging mission of the Son (v. 22, 27).
- Jesus sees what the Father is doing.
- Whatever the Father does Jesus does, because He and the Father are One.
The Sonship of Jesus is the dominant theme (vv. 19-47) with a call to man to come to Him. Note the witnesses:
- The first witness of the Sonship of Jesus is God Himself. The phrase “there is another”
(Jn. 5:32) refers to none other than God Himself.
- The second witness is John the Baptist (vv. 33-35), who was the witness of the Light, but
was not the Light himself.
- The third witness is found in the works of Jesus, meaning the entire ministry of teaching,
miracles, and His life.
- Finally, the fourth witness (vv. 37-38) is the same as the first – that of God the Father Himself.
Moses had given the Israelites the Law in which they would have found freedom, if they would have accepted the Spirit of the Law. However, since they had become legalistic, the Law was to be their condemnation. They worshiped the letter of the Law of Moses, but killed the spirit of that Law even though the ancient patriarch spoke of Jesus in Deuteronomy 18:15. This was confirmed by Luke in Acts 3:18. Jesus was especially hard on the Jews at this point, because if they could not perceive and accept the words and spirit of Moses, how could they accept the words and Spirit of Jesus? The legalists could not accept Jesus or His words because they were not willing (Jn. 5:40) to do so. They would not receive His words (Jn. 5:43) and they did not seek God’s glory (Jn. 5:44).
“The Father raises the dead.” The Jews fully accepted the fact that God, and God alone, could raise men from the grave. Jesus demonstrated His authority and power to do likewise, and thereby demonstrated that He was God in human form.
“Son of God … Son of Man.” Jesus referred to Himself with both titles. The Son of Man, or Bar enosh in Aramaic, was a title was used extensively by the prophets Daniel and Ezekiel in reference to men of the earth. Jesus was a Son of Man, in that He was born of a human mother, had human emotions and sufferings, as do we. The Son of God came to earth in human form. When Jesus spoke to His fellow Jews, He used the phrase Son of Man in reference to Himself, as this was acceptable to them. They would have objected to the phrase Son of God so strongly, that they would not have heard anything else Jesus said. The phrase Son of Man in the book of Enoch is a figure, who is waiting in heaven until God sends him to earth where he would establish his kingdom and rule over it. This book was common knowledge to the Jewish people, so when Jesus used the phrase about Himself, it was clearly referring to the long-awaited Messiah. The expressions of “Son of Man” and “Son of God,” express the deity of Jesus, but the former title also asserts His humanity.
“He has granted Him the right to pass judgment.” Jesus declared that God the Father gave Jesus the authority to judge every person on the Day of Judgment. This statement struck another fierce chord of anger in the religious leaders, for they heard Him say that He (Jesus), one day would be judge over their eternity. Most certainly, they questioned how He dared to speak such words. Yet He did and they were so true.
The reason why men today do not receive the words of Jesus and treat them as true is because they do not have love for God the Father. If the Jewish leaders loved the Father, they would have recognized Jesus and loved Him as well. In fact, in the course of time some members of the Sanhedrin and other significant Jewish leaders did recognize Jesus and demonstrated their love for Him.
. Wigoder, “Bethesda.”
. For references to grace and freedom in Christ, see Jn 8:32; Rom 8:1-4; Gal. 5:1; Eph. 2:4-9, as opposed to social conformity manipulated by laws, guilt, and bondage (Gal. 3).
. Wijngaards, Handbook to the Gospels. 44.
. Pentecost, The Words and Works of Jesus Christ. 161; Harrington, “Man, Son of.” 9:1189.
. See the Dead Sea Scroll “Son of God” fragment at 05.04.02.A.
. Jn. 3:13; 5:27; 6:27; cf. Mt.26:63-64; Tenney, The Gospel of John. 105.
. Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament. 1:312.