After the healing of the man who had lain by a pool for those 38 years, the Scribes and Pharisees seek out the person who would dare do such a thing on the Sabbath (John 5:19ff). When they find Jesus, they ask him why He healed the paralytic on the Sabbath(?). Jesus replies with an equally bold statement to accompany His actions – “my Father is working ‘til now, and so am I!” The point is not lost on the Jewish leaders, who instantly understand His claim: He is making Himself to be equal with God…blasphemy -- and the penalty is death! They are threatened by all of this because they cannot disprove it, so…they try to destroy Jesus and just get Him out of the way. What is truly amazing is that instead of denying their accusation, Jesus endorses it! Would there really be a need for any other response? No.
Jesus claims to be equal with His Father in His works. If healing a man on the Sabbath is a sin, then the Father is to blame! Jesus does nothing on his own accord, but only that which the Father is doing. When Jesus was tempted by Satan in the wilderness to use His divine powers for Himself, He refused to act independently…rather; He is totally dependent on the Father and the power of the Holy Spirit. And not only His works, but the Father shares His love (v.20), as the first three gospels open with the Father calling Jesus, “My beloved Son” and echoed by John (3:35). It is this unconditional love that is the motivation behind the revealing of the Father’s works through Jesus. Jesus presses on, mentioning His authority to raise the dead. This is another blasphemy in the eyes of the Jewish leaders – God alone has this power. Jesus is also able to give spiritual life to the spiritually dead…and He is not done with this subject.
Jesus speaks of four resurrections. First, there is a resurrection of the spiritually dead to life. Those who listen to Jesus and obey Him will be able to participate in eternal life – this should be our hope and goal in coming out of the old dead world to life in Christ. The second resurrection Jesus mentions is His own. The grave could not hold Him, because He is life (1:4). He laid down His life and took it up again. Because He has life in Himself, He can share it with all who trust in Him! The third is the ultimate, final resurrection, where believers will be raised from the dead physically/eternally and given a new glorified body. This may be similar, perhaps, to the one Peter, James and John saw on the mount of transfiguration – a body suited for eternity. The fourth resurrection is one of judgment, and this involved only those who are lost and outside of Christ. Theirs will be a negative judgment with resulting eternal separation from God. All four resurrections have, or will take place. Through all of this, Jesus claims equality with the Father in executing judgment. The Father will judge the world through His Son, whether or not they respond to Him (see Acts 17:31).
In order to support His teaching and argument, Jesus also shares four witnesses with the Scribes and Pharisees in order to give evidence that Jesus is who He says. In yet another interesting twist, the OT Law required the testimony of two or three witnesses (Numbers 35:30, Deuteronomy 17:6). The first is John the Baptist, whom the Scribes and Pharisees had interrogated carefully. John knew who Jesus was and faithfully declared what he knew to the people of Israel. In chapter one, John told the people that Jesus is Lord, Lamb of God, and Son of God. The second witness is the miracles that Jesus performs. There are seven key “signs” in this gospel that prove Jesus is the Son of God…His works, being the Father’s works. The third…His Father, on that mount of transfiguration, and other thoughts that have been shared. Finally, and most condemning for the Scribes and Pharisees, the Scriptures…the Old Covenant. Their covenant pointed to the Messiah, and now that He is among them, they cannot see Him because of their blindness and hardness of heart. Verses 39-40 are quite telling. They lack the very love that Jesus has lived, shared and wanted them to understand. They claim to know the Word of God, but do not know the God of the Word.
In our culture, we are very familiar with the legal system and the things associated with it thanks to the multitude of movies, real life and television dramas over the years. The court of justice has been part of our judicial system in this country since its birth. In general, courts have been in existence for thousands of years, and are even evidenced in the Bible. What is the purpose of legal counsel, witnesses, testimony, judge and jury? The court is filled with a multiplicity of words and emotions…and for what? It is to provide for us the means by which we can have justice – wrongs righted, rights justified, laws upheld. So, is it a surprise that Jesus appeals to His audience in making His case concerning whom He is? He is simply speaking to the Scribes and Pharisees in legal language that they would understand…He is on their level making His case.
What is the point? That we, like the Scribes and Pharisees should know and fully believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. We cannot deal with Jesus as the Jewish leaders did...on legal terms. We must accept Him on His terms. Antagonism toward the Father and His Son is rampant in this world we live in today. The media, politicians and even people we know scream at us that God is not real! Why is there war, suffering, they ask? Why poverty, trouble? Why do bad things happen to good people? Satan is running wild in this present world…we don’t belong here! God gives us the answer and solution in His Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus took the sins, attitudes, antagonisms of this world, including those of the religious people, and died on a cross so all could be set free. Do we believe the evidence? We see and understand that Jesus was able to influence many people – disciples, Nicodemus, Mary, Martha, Lazarus, Joseph of Arimathea among many others. What we truly believe concerning Jesus makes all of the difference for you and for me concerning our eternal destiny. Blessings,