John 5B Just, Like His Father

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Questions: Why did Jesus do what he did- By what authority dare we judge him? By what authority does he judge us? On what basis dare we believe him? For what reasons do we fail to recognize him?

Click “Read More” to pursue answers in the Gospel of John.

Lord, make me a Fountain of your Love
Draw me into your holy Presence, that I might know you as my Father
And manifest the image of Christ in this world, and the world to come. Amen.

John 5:17-47

But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work. Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God.

We ended yesterday on this cliffhanger, where the Jews find Jesus’s defense [claiming God as Father] worse this his offense [of breaking the Sabbath]. Rather than seek to pacify them, Jesus adds fuel to the fire by explaining himself further; perhaps more for our benefit than theirs:

Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.

Which, if it were true, certainly would explain why he was doing good on the Sabbath.

For the Father loveth the Son, and sheweth him all things that himself doeth: and he will shew him greater works than these, that ye may marvel.

Translation: you ain’t seen nothing yet!

For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth [them]; even so the Son quickeneth whom he will.

Now, this is actually quite interesting. Whether or not the Jews accept that Jesus is God’s Son, they have to contend with how Jesus is describing God. Is our God truly a God of healing and blessing? Would God want this man to be healed on the Sabbath? If so, who are these leaders to deny that God’s work is being done? Who are they to judge God. Or Jesus?

For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son: That all [men] should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him.

Zing! Talk about raising the stakes. Either you love what Jesus did as emblematic of what God is like, or you either i) deny that God is like that, or ii) admit that you are honoring a different God.

Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.

This is rapidly getting too deep for me, but I’ll tread water as best I can. Jesus appears to fundamentally want people to have a right belief in God, based on what Jesus says (and does); and implies that such a belief is the only sure road an unending life.

Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live. For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself; And hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man.

I’m pretty sure this is the first use of the phrase “Son of Man” — and “Son of God” for that matter. I find it deeply touching that Jesus’s authority springs from him being a “Son of man”, even if his power is tied into being the “Son of God.”

Incredible. Or is it?

Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.

Okay, now this is getting downright spooky. But Jesus is quick to point out that this wasn’t his idea:

I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.

If I may translate this into ontological terms, “This isn’t just some fancy story I made up to make me sound impressive, but an authentic revelation about the underlying nature of the universe.”

An audacious claim. How will he back it up?

If I bear witness of myself, my witness is not true. There is another that beareth witness of me; and I know that the witness which he witnesseth of me is true.

And who would that be?

Ye sent unto John, and he bare witness unto the truth. But I receive not testimony from man: but these things I say, that ye might be saved. He was a burning and a shining light: and ye were willing for a season to rejoice in his light.

So, is that the best witness he can claim?

But I have greater witness than [that] of John: for the works which the Father hath given me to finish, the same works that I do, bear witness of me, that the Father hath sent me.

I like this answer, especially since it is the one I used last month. 🙂 But wait, there’s more:

And the Father himself, which hath sent me, hath borne witness of me. Ye have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his shape. And ye have not his word abiding in you: for whom he hath sent, him ye believe not.

Again, I’m in way over my head, but my best guess is that he’s talking about God revealing Himself — and Jesus — through the Scriptures:

Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.

Or rather, is trying to reveal Himself, but they are unwilling/unable to hear. Why?

I receive not honour from men. But I know you, that ye have not the love of God in you. I am come in my Father’s name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive. How can ye believe, which receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that [cometh] from God only?

Ouch. So is Jesus condemning them?

Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father: there is [one] that accuseth you, [even] Moses, in whom ye trust. For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me. But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words*

Y’know, this reminds me a lot of something I’ve begun to suspect in my Reasoned Conversation. Many atheists find it unreasonable that anyone should be condemned for what they don’t know. However, I’ve never heard them admit that it is reasonable to be condemned for what they do know. They search the sciences, logic, and history in search of truth — but refuse to admit that all these things bear testimony of the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

As, all too often, do I.

Prayer

God, forgive me for my unbelief. Open the eyes of my heart, as well as my mind, that I might see you. And that in seeing you, I may come know — and submit to — the God who truly is. I ask this in the name of Jesus, the image of the Father, the only sure source of our salvation. Amen.

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