Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
John 5:15 The man departed, and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him whole.
The healed man identified Jesus as his healer. It is noteworthy he put forward the miracle of healing rather than the controversial command.
The healed man was not trying to be treacherous. He was simply trying to clear himself of a serious crime, which could be punished by death.
John 5:16 And therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to slay him, because he had done these things on the Sabbath day.
In the ensuing dialogue between Jesus and the religious leaders, Christ made five tremendous claims. We examine three of them in this lesson. First, Jesus claimed to have God=s authority.
John 5:17-18 But Jesus answered them, AMy 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.
God did not stop working on the Sabbath day. Jesus didn=t either. On the seventh day God rested from ACreation,@ but not from mercy, compassion, and love.
Divine rest is not idleness, nor should ours be. True rest is not only a rest from human earthly labor, but a rest for divine heavenly labor (Westcott).
Jesus maintained it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath. Human need must always be helped. The work of compassion must never be avoided.
Jesus was not abolishing Sabbath rest. People need a day for rest and worship. Christ was rather claiming to be Lord of this Divine institution, a position accorded to God only.
By saying His work and the Father=s work were the same, Jesus claimed He had the authority of God. The religious leaders recognized His words as a claim to equality with God.
The leaders did not believe Jesus was the Son of God, but did understand exactly what He was claiming. They did not know what He was, but knew what He claimed to be.
The religious leaders now intensified their efforts to kill Jesus. Christ=s own personal claims about Himself led to His crucifixion.
Malice and envy completely dominated the leaders, silencing reason and justice. People who refuse to be enlightened by the Word of Christ are often enraged and exasperated by it.
Nothing more vexes Jesus= enemies than when He asserts His authority. To them, lip-service is fine, but not life-service.
Essentially there can be no in-between ground. Either Jesus= words are true and He is AGod of very God,@ or they are the height of blasphemy or insanity.
Jesus claimed to have God=s authority. Second, Jesus claimed to have unity with God.
John 5:19 Then answered Jesus, and said unto them, AVerily, 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.@
ACan do nothing of Himself@ meant Jesus could do nothing that was self-determined. Everything He did reflected what the Father was already doing.
The reciprocal is also true. As it is impossible for the Son to do anything of Himself, so it is impossible that the Father can do anything without the Son.
A helpful analogy is flame and light. They always exist together. From the moment a flame is lit, there is light. One cannot exist without the other.
Jesus never did what He might have selfishly wanted to do. He always did what the Father wanted Him to do. Jesus was so yielded to the will of the Father that we see the fullness of God in Christ.
The deeds Jesus did are the deeds God did. If we want to see how the Father feels toward people, look at Jesus.
If we would know how God reacts to sin, look at Jesus. The words and actions of Jesus are the words and actions of the Father.
The same submissiveness of will is to be displayed by us toward Jesus. People should see Him in us.
Jesus claimed to have God=s authority, and unity with God. Third, Jesus claimed intimacy with God.
John 5:20 AFor the Father loveth the Son, and showeth him all things that he himself doeth, and he will show him greater works than these, that ye may marvel.@
Though hated by people, Jesus comforted Himself with the knowledge His Father loved Him. Jesus always shared intimate communion with His Father.
Love produced the Father=s perfect communication to the Son, and the Son=s perfect reception from the Father. Their minds were one, their hearts beat as one. Jesus claimed special familiarity with the Father.
Christ had already hinted at this in verse 17. The expression AMy Father@ is noteworthy. The Jews usually did not refer to God this way. They would say AOur Father@ or qualify their words with Ain heaven@ or some other expression to remove any hint at familiarity.
Jesus, however, always thought of God in the most intimate ways possible. Jesus and the Father loved one another so deeply that they shared all their plans and ideas with one another. Perfect fellowship and mutual trust were enjoyed by Father and Son, because love has no concealments.
Jesus lived in a state of continual contemplation of the Father. There was uninterrupted communion between them. This is what God wants all people to enjoy with Him, but we are often starving to death for a lack of spiritual affection.
The Charismatic movement has been very attractive to people seeking an intimacy with God they did not find in mainline Protestant and Catholic churches. People need intimacy with God. Otherwise our religion is merely a cold lifeless ritual.
Too many of us in our modern day cannot relate to John Newton=s words penned 200 years ago:
AHow tedious and tasteless the hours,
When Jesus no longer I see!
Sweet prospects, sweet birds, and sweet flowers
Have all lost their sweetness to me.
The mid-summer sun shines but dim;
The fields strive in vain to look gay;
But when I am happy in Him,
December=s as pleasant as May.@
Too many of our people have no idea of what it means to enjoy intimacy with the Lord. The cost is high for true intimacy. It requires much time in prayer and Bible study. But once it is tasted, life becomes boring without it.