Gospel of John 5: 19-24 (NIV)
19 Jesus gave (the Jewish leaders) 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 honour the Son just as they honour the Father. He who does not honour the Son does not honour 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.”
This passage follows immediately after the Evangelist John described Jesus’ healing on the Sabbath of a man who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. Jesus told the man to “pick up his mat and walk”. That Jesus did this on the Sabbath infuriated the Jewish leaders. John explained the Jewish leaders’ criticism of Jesus this way (John 5: 16-18):
So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jews persecuted him. Jesus said to them, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working.” For this reason the Jews tried all the harder to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.
John 5 addresses several themes from the teaching of Jesus. This reflection concentrates on only one theme: Jesus’ relationship with the Father. This is how Jesus described the relationship:
- The Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing (verse 19b).
- Whatever the Father does the Son also does (verse 19c).
- God the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does (verse 20a).
- The Father judges no-one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son (verse 22).
- God wants all to honour the Son just as they honour the Father (verse 23a).
- Anyone who does not honour the Son does not honour the Father (verse 23b).
Later Jesus explained (verse 30b) that obedience is the essence: “for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.”
Jesus’ words in chapter 14 of John’s Gospel are instructive: “Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me” (verse 11a) and “whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life” (verse 24a).
It is because of his obedience that, after his resurrection, Jesus was able to say: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go…” (Matthew 28: 18).
What are we to learn from this relationship between the Father and the Son? Jesus wants the same relationship for us with the Father as he himself enjoys (John 17: 20-21):
My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.”