9
September
2018

JOHN 5:15-24 JESUS SAYS HE IS EQUAL WITH GOD, BECAUSE HE IS GOD

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John 5:15 The man departed and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well. 16 For this reason the Jews persecuted Jesus, and sought to kill Him, because He had done these things on the Sabbath. 17 But Jesus answered them, "My Father has been working until now, and I have been working." 18 Therefore the Jews sought all the more to kill Him, because He not only broke the Sabbath, but also said that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God. 19 Then Jesus answered and said to them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner. 20 "For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself does; and He will show Him greater works than these, that you may marvel. 21 "For as the Father raises the dead and gives life to them, even so the Son gives life to whom He will. 22 "For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son, 23 "that all should 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 "Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.

 In this passage we will see the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back, in other words Jesus says He is equal with God and is God and this puts the Pharisee’s over the edge.  They wanted to kill Him for healing on the Sabbath, but now they try all the harder to find a way to kill him because in THEIR EYES, Jesus has blasphemed against God, but it is really about them and their power and their authority being threatened.  Jesus tells us He can work on the Sabbath just as HIS Father does, not our Father, but HIS, which says to the Pharisee’s, He is just like His Father.  He tells them He does whatever the Father does, He knows all things just as God does, He will give life (eternal life) to whomever he wills to, that He deserves Honor just as the Father does and lastly that He is the only way to eternal life. For all those who say that Jesus never said He was God, they either did not read this section of scripture or many others, or they are just plain liars and deceivers.  Jesus is God, He always has been, and always will be.

 15 The man departed and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well.

There is no indication of any repentance, no mention of faith, and no inquiry as to who Jesus is or what He is about (as with the Samaritan woman). We are only told that after this confrontation, the man goes to the authorities to reveal Jesus’ identity to them. It is almost too terrible to be true.

 16 For this reason the Jews persecuted Jesus, and sought to kill Him, because He had done these things on the Sabbath.

John tells us that they “began persecuting him.” I was initially inclined to think that this “persecution” involved constant questioning, challenging, and heckling, and no doubt efforts to discredit our Lord before the people.

 17 But Jesus answered them, "My Father has been working until now, and I have been working."

  1. The expression ‘My Father’ is noteworthy. It was not the way Jews usually referred to God. Usually they spoke of ‘our Father,’ and while they might use ‘My Father’ in prayer they would qualify it with ‘in heaven’ or some other expression to remove the suggestion of familiarity. Jesus did no such thing, here or elsewhere. He habitually thought of God as in the closest relationship to Himself. The expression implies a claim which the Jews did not miss.”
  2. Our Lord’s response to the Sabbath question here is unique to John’s Gospel.

8 “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. 11 For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it” (Exodus 20:8-11, NKJV).

  18 Therefore the Jews sought all the more to kill Him, because He not only broke the Sabbath, but also said that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God.

The Sabbath is the “sign of the Mosaic covenant,” and thus to violate the Sabbath is to be worthy of death (Exodus 31:14-17; 35:2-3; Numbers 15:32-36). The Fourth Commandment requires the people of God to imitate God, who “rested” on the seventh day of creation. The logic is simple: God rested on the seventh day, and so must men. But Jesus gives us a very different twist on this. He argues that God is constantly at work, even on the Sabbath. Since God is working non-stop, the Son is also working, and cannot cease for the Sabbath.

The inference is very clear: Jesus is claiming that God is His Father; He is claiming to be God. If our Lord’s claim is true, the Jewish authorities cannot and should not hinder the working of the Son of God on the Sabbath.

In what sense is God “working”? There is certainly a general sense in which God is working to maintain His creation and to bring about His plans and purposes: “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28, NASB).

There is a specific sense in which God has been “at work” from the time of creation on, bringing about salvation for fallen men. Mere men can contribute nothing to this “working.” It is God’s work. And so men should rest on the Sabbath. But since Jesus is God, then He, as God, must work at that which His Father is working. A part of that saving work is healing the sick (see Luke 4:16-21; John 11:2-6).[1] The Jews are therefore wrong in condemning Jesus for healing a man on the Sabbath.

The three chapters of this section, John 5-7, record the shift from mere reservation and hesitation about Jesus to outright and sometimes official opposition.

This incident in John 5 does two things. First, it discloses the wickedness of unbelieving Jews, especially of unbelieving Jewish leaders.

The second thing this incident in John’s Gospel does is to provide the occasion for Jesus to state very clearly (and very early in this Gospel) just who He is. I have often heard someone say, “Just who do you think you are?” Jesus tells these Jewish leaders who He is, and they do not like it at all.

Our text has several more lessons to teach us, which I shall briefly mention.

  1. We cannot help but notice that those who are most in the wrong here are those who are most assured of being right.
  2. Doing what is right does not always result in a righteous or a rewarding response
  3. This passage is a reminder of the “weakness” of signs and wonders, and of the power of God’s Word.
  4. Finally, we see in our text a beautiful example of sovereign grace

[1] In the Greek text, the word translated “save” is the word often used to describe our Lord’s work of healing men (see, for example, Matthew 8:25; 9:21-22; Mark 3:4; 5:23).