“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.” (John 5:19–24, ESV) (Caps added to pronouns referring to the Father and the Son.)
In the last portion of this passage John told us that the reason that Jesus was being pursued by the leaders among the Jews was not only because He was performing miracles on the Sabbath but because He claimed that God was His Father. And right on the heels of this statement, Jesus confronted that very issue with them. The first thing He told them was that He wasn’t doing any of these things of His own initiative or invention, but that He was working in concert with the Father. What He observed of the Father, He Himself as the Son did. It is the ultimate embodiment of the famous phrase, “Like father like son.” There was no distinction between them in their actions. They were in full cooperation with each other and one hundred percent consistent. If the Jews had a problem with the actions of Jesus, He was telling them that they really had a problem with God the Father. There was no difference between the ordinances of God the Father and the actions of God the Son. They truly were One. There was no back-peddling on His claim that God was His Father, but He dealt with it head on confirming that this was exactly what He meant.
Next, He went on to declare the love of the Father for the Son and His total and absolute openness to everything that He was doing. There were no secrets in the Godhead. What the Father knew He revealed to the Son, and this was just the tip of the iceberg. As God become man Jesus was going to have much more revealed to Him by the Father, and these things will be so impressive that all man can do is marvel in response. Jesus was going to continue to perform signs and wonders in order to prove that He truly is the Son sent by the Father, and these miraculous things extended even to His power over life itself. I’m sure that the Jews would admit that the Father had the power to raise the dead and give life to them, but where they fell short was recognizing that Jesus, as the Son, had that same power. He told them that He was able to give life to whomever He wished. Knowing that their initial complaint was about the man carrying his bed on the Sabbath, Jesus escalated things well beyond what I’m sure they were expecting to hear.
Beyond that He told those who had been judging Him that power of the Father over judgment had been given to Him. They had no authority from God in this area, but Jesus had been given full and absolute authority. And with this authority came the realization that everyone one day will honor Him just as they would honor the Father. Many would come to recognize Jesus and believe in Him during their lives, but there were also going to be many others who would come before Him eternally judged and be forced to confess that He indeed is Lord.
“And being found in human form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:8–11, ESV) (Caps added to pronouns referring to the Father and the Son.)
Not honoring the Son is equal to not honoring the Father. There is no difference. The Father had sent the Son and fully granted Him all authority. Jesus told the Jews no uncertain terms that they had better come to grasp with this or incur judgment. Jesus drew a line, and that line had nothing to do with how good they were or how well they kept commandments or statues including those concerning the Sabbath. The determining factor in passing from judgment to eternal life is found in hearing His words of Jesus and believing that the Father had sent Him. Jesus did not pull any punches with them. He made it clear that He is the Son of God sent to save man from His sins. There is no middle ground. There is no compromising that He might have been a good teacher or a prophet, because if He were not the Son of God then all of these words would be lies and He would disqualify Himself. Jesus knew who He was and He knew Who sent Him, and He laid it all out before His accusers. He is the Christ, and the time was soon to run out for them to recognize this truth. (Note: I’ve been switching tense from past to present recognizing that God is eternal, but also trying to balance that much of what we read about Jesus occurred in time.)
As we bring these truths forward as Christians we can find great encouragement in knowing that Jesus personally made these claims concerning Himself. There are many pseudo-Christian groups out there who attempt to make Him into someone less, but Jesus did not give that as an option. We also are to be encouraged knowing that everything He said was one hundred percent truthful and accurate. He spoke and acted with full knowledge and authority. As such we can trust what He said. We can also be encouraged as we read these gospel and other accounts in the Bible knowing that Jesus Himself said that they Holy Spirit would bring these things to remembrance to His disciples when it was time to record them. “These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” (John 14:25–26, ESV) Peter, speaking on this wrote, “For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” (2 Peter 1:21, ESV)
Speaking to those who have not trusted in Christ for their salvation, we can share with them boldly assured that Jesus is who He declared Himself to be. Responding to those who try to throw Him into a box with other religious leaders, we can clearly say that Jesus did not give us that option. Either He is truly who He claimed He was or this was the greatest hoax ever played on mankind. But history does not support a hoax. There is historical proof concerning Him, and there are a number of great resources to help in this area. But my favorite resource is the Word of God, and in particular 1 Corinthians 15 where we have the historical proof of the resurrection. The ultimate proof of His power over life is the proof of His own resurrection, and because He lives He gives life to all who believe. Just as the Jews were told that they needed to come to terms with this truth, so will every man ever born and that’s just the way it is whether they want to admit it or not. We cannot divide what God declares to be indivisible.
It would be great to read that the Jews immediately changed their position concerning Jesus and believed. But later in John chapter 10, after Jesus again claims His oneness with the Father, we read that they were ready to stone Him. “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are One.” (John 10:27–30, ESV) (Caps added to pronouns referring to the Father and the Son.)