Gospel of John: The Big Reveal


The small, three-verse segue in yesterday’s post  encapsulated a series of Sabbaths in which Jesus had demonstrated a truer worship of God, worshiping in Spirit and truth, by freeing people from demons (as Isaiah might have put it, to break the demon’s yoke on them), restoring those who were in some way disabled or disfigured, by forgiving people of their sins, healing illnesses and doing what would show mercy and compassion.

As a result, the Pharisees—and, indeed, the religious intelligentsia of Jesus’ day—had experienced a turning point in their consideration of this vagabond preacher. To them, Jesus was dishonoring their authority, and trangressing the Sabbath. They now would actively seek to destroy him.

In the meantime, their constant harassment and public confrontations gave Jesus platform to reveal Who he really was, and why he was there.

John recorded a long speech at this point, of Jesus describing the relationship between the Son and the Father. This is the claim that had pushed the Pharisees over the edge of rage and fury.

 Jesus’s speech has two bookends, which characterize a relationship between the Father and the Son that is so close, neither does anything without the other. Their wills are one, their judgments are the same


BOOKEND 1

Amen, Amen, I say to you, the Son is not able to do anything from himself, if he did not see what the Father is doing, for what that one [the Father] does, then these the Son likewise does.

Jesus, the beginning of his speech about his identity, to the Pharisees in John 5:19

BOOKEND 2

I myself am not able to do anything from myself, just as I hear, I judge—and my judgement is right and just—because I do not seek my will but rather the will of the One Who sent me.

Jesus, the end of his speech about his identity, to the Pharisees in John 5:30

This is of particular interest to you and me who have put our faith in Jesus. Our relationship with Jesus is the same as the relationship Jesus described between himself and the Father.

In and of ourselves we have no power. I know that flies in the face of all those self-help books that tell you to reach deep into yourself and find your power, realize your potential.

It is not there, not this kind of power.

Jesus is our model. As he was one with the Father’s will, he received God’s vision, God’s works, God’s power to do everything that was given him. So you and I, the more we willingly meld our wills with the Lord’s, we too will receive God’s vision, all the things God has planned for us, and the power to do it all.

This is our spiritual E=MC2.

As Jesus described this relationship, he depicted the mystery of the trinity, one God, yet separate Persons.

(Now, to get the real pith and sinew of this passage, it makes sense for you to have it open, and read it through.)

John 5:20 The Father loves Son with immense affection and shows the Son everything the Father is doing, a carefully planned work that was unfolding just as Father and Son intended. The “greater things” mentioned would continue to the cross, to the resurrection, to Jesus’ going up into heaven, and to his sending of the Holy Spirit.

John 5:21, 26 The Father is the source of life, even to having the power to raise the dead and give life to what is otherwise inanimate.

John 5:22 The Father is the judge of all. To one holding to an orthodox faith in first century Judea, YHWH was “Judge of all the earth.” No one would dare to take that title for themselves, and yet Jesus did.

John 5:23 The Father rightfully receives honor

Now let us explore what this means in terms of God the Son.

  1. The Father shares all this with the Son: just as the Father gives life, so also the Son gives life, (verse 21) and just as the Father is the source of life, He has granted that the Son would also be the source of life, (verse 26)
  • Though the Father is the judge of all, God the Father judges no one, but instead has given all judgement to the Son, (verse 22), and has given Jesus the authority to execute judgement, (verse 27)
  • And though the Father receives honor, if the Son is not also honored, then as far as the Father is concerned, the Father has not been honored, either. In other words, to honor the Father without also honoring the Son is to actually dishonor the Father, (verse 23).

You and I can begin to see how intertwined the Father and the Son really are, two distinct Persons, and yet also one Being. If you skip down to the next section of Jesus’ speech, you can see he changed from using the word Father, to the word God, the only God, for there is only one God, and to this one God should go all the glory.

Yet this glimpse into the nature of God reveals the complex concept of Father and Son, completely equal to each other, each giving of themselves to the other.

The Father

  • Chose not to judge anyone, but gave all judgment to the Son.
  • Shares equally the power of resurrection with the Son.
  • Does not receive honor unless the Son also receives honor.

The Son

  • Did not seek his own will, but the will of the Father Who sent him.
  • Judges only according to the Father’s will.
  • Did not do anything on his Own, but did only what he saw the Father doing and showing him, and heard what the Father said to him.

The powerful works that Jesus performed were given to him by the Father. Jesus was sent by the Father.

God the Father’s plan was to have many more sons and daughters, to be like God’s Son 


Amen, amen, I say to you that the one who hears My word [logos] and who believes-and-puts-their-faith-in the One Who sent me has eternal life and does not come into judgement, but rather has passed out of death into life.

Jesus, John 5:24

Belief gives evidence to the presence of the Father’s word in that person, and the Father’s love in that person, just as the Father’s word and love are in Jesus.

Those who have put their faith in Jesus do not have to be afraid of death. Everybody dies. We do not like to think about it. Most of us secretly hope there will be an exception, somehow.

But death is not the end of existence, according to Jesus.

For Jesus portrayed a resurrection in which all will be judged righteously and justly, by the reader of hearts, the discerner of souls, the lover of people, the merciful and gracious One, Who called himself the “Son of Humanity.”[1]  

This was a stunning jaw-dropper when Jesus first revealed the coming hour—that was actually already arrived. Round eyes, mouths hanging open, a collective gasp drawn in, a rustling of hands reaching for prayer shawls, or steadying themselves on one another.

Do not marvel at this, that the hour is coming in which everyone in the graves will hear his voice, Jesus said in verse 28, then pressed even further into his message. Yes, this will be a physical, literal resurrection.

Little did they know how Jesus’ words would come shockingly true at the hour of his death on the cross.


[1] In verse 27. The traditional way to translate this phrase from the Greek “uion tou anthropou” is “Son of Man.” This is because “Man” connoted “humankind” for a few centuries in the English language. Interestingly, in Middle English, the female version of “man” was “wimman” or “wifman,” our modern-day “woman.” The male version of “man” was “werman.” This left the word “man” as truly neutral, referring to male and female alike as humans.

However, at some point the prefix “wer” fell away, so that “man” came to mean both male humans and humans in general.

Today, being more sensitive to the implications of using the male version of human as standing in for all humans, more and more people are making the intentional effort to use more accurate language when translating. In this case, “anthropos” in Greek is the neutral term denoting humankind (like “anthropology,” the study of people). If a male term is desired, the Greek uses “aner/andros.”

[Tombstones | pixabay.com]

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