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John 5:19-30, NIV
19 Jesus gave them this answer: "I tell you the truth, 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, to your amazement he will show him even greater things than these. 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. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him.
24 "I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life. 25 I tell you the truth, 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 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 good will rise to live, and those who have done 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."
February 24, 2011Now we are at the heart of what Jesus really wanted to tell these religious leaders. The story of Jesus' activity at the pool of Bethesda was just a way of introducing this "meaty" section. The man who had been healed didn't know who did it, nor how or why he could pick up his mat and walk away. Neither did his questioners know the who, how or why concerning the works of God.
The man who had received the wonderful gift of a life restored, did not know the source of this gift was the grace and providence of his heavenly Father, whose work never ends, even on the Sabbath.
Ironically, on hearing Jesus refer to God as his Father, the opponents of Jesus tried even harder to do away with him. They planned to kill Jesus even though in the Ten Commandments, just the second one after keeping the Sabbath day holy, is one which says very plainly, "You shall not murder."
In the midst of all this "not knowing", Jesus comes on strong with info about God which everyone needs to know. Three times in this section Jesus used the phrase, "I tell you the truth." Then he followed it up with, "Do not be amazed." In other words, why should you be surprised by what I am telling you. How can you not know these things? So now we wonder, what is this important message which every one of us should know, but fail to understand?
February 26, 2011I tell you the truth #1) Jesus was talking to Jewish men in words they could understand--about fathers and sons. Jesus had a Father, too. And theirs was an ideal relationship. Jesus did nothing on his own; he only did what he had learned from his Father. Whatever Jesus saw his Father doing, that is what he did. The Father loves Jesus so much, is so proud of him and trusts him with all things. Father God has not withheld anything from him.
And yes, as amazing as all this sounds, his Father will show him even greater things. [Just a little commentary - I see this as moving from the old covenant under which people lived in Old Testament times, to the new covenant of the New Testament and the age of the Holy Spirit. The men to whom Jesus was speaking were living under the old covenant, and Jesus was inviting them to step forward into the new age he was ushering in.] Here is a "greater thing": Only God has the power to give life to the dead, but now the Son will also have the power to give life to anyone he chooses to give it.
The second part of this paragraph is also spoken in words these men could understand. They knew all about judging, and the respect due to one who holds the authority to make life or death judgments. They had already judged Jesus, and in their collective eyes, Jesus was a menace to the faith and needed to die. In the face of all their condemnation, Jesus told them that his Father entrusted him with the honor of judgment, and if they don't accept his authority over them, they are not honoring God the Father who sent him into their midst.
I tell you the truth #2) Whoever hears these words of mine and believes in the Father who sent me has eternal life; that person will not be condemned and has already crossed over from death to life. The implication: Even someone condemned to death by the judges standing eyeball to eyeball with Jesus, even they will live if they hear and believe the words of Jesus!
I tell you the truth #3) A time is coming and is already here when the dead will hear my voice and those who hear will live. Just as the Father has life in himself, so I have life in myself. Again, the rulers of this world make their decisions, but our Father in heaven is the ultimate power whose desire is always to give the sentence of eternal life to everyone will to receive it. God is the author of "greater things."
Don't be surprised by all this, Jesus told them. A day is coming when those who are dead and in their graves will hear my voice (the voice of the Son of Man). Men and women will walk out of their tombs--those who got it right will rise to new life; those who lived the wrong way will be condemned. I do nothing by myself, my judgment is fair because I want only to please my Father in heaven who sent me to this task.
More journal entries
December 19, 2001Here comes the truth that Jesus spoke to these contentious religious leaders and defenders of the faith. Whoever hears my word and believes the One who sent me, that person has everlasting life. He or she will not be condemned by any other judgment, yours or anyone else's. The woman at the well in chapter 4 is a good example. She will not be condemned but has already passed from death into life. The opposite is also true--those who do not hear and do not believe are already bound up in a death sentence.
John 3:16-18 states clearly that God loves the world and does not want any one to be condemned. God sent his Son into the world to save everyone who wants to accept his offer of eternal life.
December 18, 2001
Furthermore Jesus said, I have a love relationship with the Father (something you guys need.). Love helps you see better what God is doing and discern more clearly through whom God is working. Love of God doesn't make you blind, it gives you eyes of faith to see better, both physically and spiritually.
The judgment of these religious leaders fell heavily on Jesus' head, so he followed that theme. The Father doesn't judge; he left that job to me! So that all would honor me. Unfortunately, these enemies of the Christ, were dishonoring him and the One who sent him. Here they were, judging the Judge of the Universe
January 21, 1983Jesus was a carpenter by trade, but the work described here is not carpentry. What did Jesus work? He didn't seem to support himself, earn his keep or carry his own weight in the real world. He relied on the hospitality of friends and strangers, and the families of his disciples for food, clothing, shelter. Jesus bummed around from place to place, giving away his words of Life to any who would receive them. Clearly, God's work is very different from what is generally considered as work. God's work doesn't stop on the Sabbath, or at night when I go to sleep.
My Father--is this the first time in John's Gospel that Jesus refers to God in that intimate way? It may be the first time he brought up the subject of the unity of Father and Son, but it won't be the last. Later, in chapters 14 and 15, Jesus invites all his disciples to become part of that unity.
January 23, 1983It all sounded like blasphemy to those who were defending the faith against popular imposters. Had they been attentive to God, would the Spirit have told them who you are -- the revealer of God's nature, the incarnation of God in the body of a man, God's son, maybe even God himself? My theology is not too good here. Who exactly were you? You were all of the above. Yet how can you be God himself and the Son of God at the same time? I hate questions like that.
I choose to believe first and hope understanding will come later, because I can't with reason explain or understand this type of question. I'm so glad for Albert Schweitzer's comment, " . . . as we follow, we will come to know who He is."
January 25, 1983
I, too, as your child, can do nothing on my own. I, too, want my work to be what I see my Father in heaven doing--loving the world, sharing the Good News, calling for repentance, inspiring faith and trust, living in peace and harmony with the rest of God's creation. Healing, teaching, preaching, a living sacrifice, consecrated to you. Not carried away by temporary pleasures, but wanting your will to be my will. Because Jesus is the judge of what will last or not last.
January 28, 1983To see God at work in this world in the present tense, is the greatest thing possible. In this passage it comes from a love relationship between Father and Son. God revealing Himself as the best in life there is, the best choice we can make. Filling the world and our lives with wonders. All who see, hear, and believe will be a witness to others, not to make ourselves feel good, but to draw others to God.
February 2, 1983The Old Testament speaks of God as Judge. Here the Father relegates judgment to his Son in order that man will revere the Son and honor the Son as equal to the Father. Jesus is making extravagant claims that border on being arrogant.
Just as God gave authority to Jesus, so God also gives his earthly children power and honor and responsibility. God shares himself, becomes partners with us. He doesn't do everything himself. Again this might sound arrogant. But so is the phrase "children of God" which is a concept inspired by none less than our Creator.
February 3, 1983Judgment is reserved for those who don't believe and have done evil in God's sight. The opposite is eternal life--hearing Jesus and believing in God. Jesus has solemnly assured us of this. First we must hear Jesus, then we must believe the Father who sent Jesus into the world.
First things first--hearing Jesus. We do that by reading the Bible, pondering it, by openness to the Spirit, attentiveness and receptivity. Creating time and space to listen. Tuning our ears to hear his words. Listening to all of it, not just what we like.
Believing God--that he is worthy of our love and respect, trusting him. Knowing through experience that God is Love, Faithful, Gracious, Kind, Gentle, Wise, all Powerful and able to keep us.
Father, help me to hear and to believe, in order that I may have eternal life. The kind of eternal life that starts right now. Amen.
February 28, 2011" . . . I seek not to please myself but him who sent me." Those words jump out at me. In that one little sentence, Jesus revealed the deepest desire of his heart--to please his Father in heaven. When he cut through all the noise and demands of life and sorted through all the options available to him, this is what he discovered about himself. This is what he really wanted above all else--to please his Father in heaven. It became the basis for all his living.
One single desire like this can unify a person's life so that he or she is not pulled in many different directions. One single desire like this could transform my fragmented life and make me whole.