Lesson 25

The Gospel of John

World English Bible translation

 Today's Scripture

5:18 For this cause therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only broke the Sabbath, but also called God his own Father, making himself equal with God. 5:19 Jesus therefore answered them, "Most assuredly, I tell you, the Son can do nothing of himself, but what he sees the Father doing. For whatever things he does, these the Son also does likewise. 5:20 For the Father loves the Son, and shows him all things that he himself does. He will show him greater works than these, that you may marvel. 5:21 For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son also gives life to whom he desires.

 Today's Lesson

When Jesus said, "My Father is still working, so I am working, too," it was His first public pronouncement and claim to be the Son of God. The religious leaders in Jerusalem did not vacillate in their reaction to this claim. Their response was swift and sure. Today scholars may argue from evidence in the Synoptic Gospels that Jesus may not have understood that He was the Messiah until late in His career. But, such speculation cannot be based on the Fourth Gospel. In the Gospel of John, Jesus understands from the beginning who He was and what He had been sent to accomplish.


It is also quite clear in this Gospel how the religious establishment reacts to His statements. They sought to kill Him because they understood that anyone claiming to be the Son of God would never recognize their authority. He claimed to be sent from heaven with divine authority. He counted himself, in the words of the author, "equal with God." As Paul wrote in the great song in Philippians, Jesus "being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped."


Jesus for His part does not see equality with God as being independent of the Father. Rather, He says "the Son can do nothing of himself, but what he sees the Father doing." For fleshly humans, to be powerful is to be independent and free. For Jesus, His identity and relationship to the Father constrained His actions. However, that constraint was based upon the love of the Father for the Son and the love of the Son for the Father. Their purpose and objective were identical.


And, this is the same type of relationship that we are called to have with the Father today. As children of God, we are called to have a unity of purpose with the Father. The Spirit of God shows us the things of God and we are called to reflect what is revealed to us in our own lives. Because the Father shows mercy to us, we are to show mercy to others. Because the Father loves us, we are to love others.


Jesus goes on to tell those who had been upset with His words that greater things will come. The Father raises the dead. The Father gives life. And, the Son too gives life to those whom He desires to give it. Latter, there will be a concrete demonstration of this in the raising of Lazarus. For now, Jesus simply reminds these men that healing the lame is not the extent of God's work. The work of the Son is to give life to the dead.


We have a million misconceptions of His mission. Jesus is not here to tell us what to do. He is not here to make our lives more comfortable. He is here to give us life! Without Christ, we are already dead in trespasses and sin.


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