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John 5:17-21


God’s work, Jesus’ work,
equality with God.


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Read John 5 verses 1-21

1 Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for a feast of the Jews. 2 Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. 3 Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralysed. 5 One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?”

7 “Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no-one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.”

8 Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” 9 At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.

The day on which this took place was a Sabbath, 10 and so the Jews said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath; the law forbids you to carry your mat.”

11 But he replied, “The man who made me well said to me, ‘Pick up your mat and walk.’ ”

12 So they asked him, “Who is this fellow who told you to pick it up and walk?”

13 The man who was healed had no idea who it was, for Jesus had slipped away into the crowd that was there.

14 Later Jesus found him at the temple and said to him, “See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.” 15 The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well.

16 So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jews persecuted him.

17 Jesus said to them, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working.” 18 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.

19 Jesus gave them 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.


In our first study we looked at the healing itself. Now as the action moves to the Temple we will see the response of those Jewish leaders who believed that they were the guardians of the Jewish religion. We will also see the authority of Jesus’ replies.

v17: Jesus said to them, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working.”

If God is always at work, what is he doing? (Answers follow, a-c!)


a) Creation

If God created the world and it was perfect, could he not just push it off and sit back and watch his plan unfold?

Or does creation need constant maintenance?

Some useful verses: Mat 6v25-34, Deut 30 v8-9 & 20 the Lord is your life

Is God active in each act of re-creation?

Does it distress God to see the way his perfect creation has been spoilt? Does he continually intervene – ensuring that we are saved from even worse disasters that could come our way?

Or does God only intervene in response to the prayers of his people?

Does God sometimes prompt us to pray?


What is the difference between the religion of the Jews of Jesus’ day and the religion of modern man?

Jews believed in a creator God who gave laws that must be obeyed.

Modern man refuses to accept a creator God. If no creator, then no handbook, no maker’s instructions, no ownership, no sin, no salvation. The world has swung away from a rules-based religion to a no-rules religion.


Remember – we are looking at what God is doing in the world today. So:

b)

What about spiritual battles about which we can only surmise?


c)

Another aspect of God’s work relates to his nature, and here we need to skip ahead to verse 26. Could someone explain the first part of v26 to me? the Father has life in himself


What is life? How do you define it?

Dictionary: The condition that distinguishes animals and plants from inorganic matter, including the capacity for growth, functional activity, and continual change preceding death.


What has happened when an animal is pronounced dead? What has caused each individual cell that went to make up its body to no longer be living?


Is a seed living? Seeds found at the National Archives at Kew, London had not demonstrated any of our proofs for the last 200 years. If you dissected them under a powerful microscope there would be no evidence of life. How then did they grow when planted by scientists from Kew's Millennium Seed Bank?


Life can only be passed on by things that are alive. Life cannot be induced or created. Life cannot be re-introduced to something that is dead. We had a vigorous Clematis growing in the garden. During the summer it died. Nothing could then be done to persuade it back into life.


What did v26 say? For as the Father has life in himself


This seems to be a quality that transcends our understanding of life; God has life in himself and is the source of life in others. God IS life.

In the same way that we say that God IS love, or God IS light.

What does fire do? It burns – it’s its nature. What does God do? He gives life, he sustains life. It’s his nature (v21). In a sense it also explains God’s eternity – God cannot die


Now let’s look at verse 26 again: For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son to have life in himself.

Did Jesus inherit this quality, or was it given to him by his Father (v26)?


Either way, Jesus was prepared to give up even this when he went to Calvary.


We started by looking at What God’s work was. But what is Jesus’ work? It suggests that when Jesus came to earth to do his Father’s will, his work was different to that of his father. God didn’t take a three-year holiday - he was ‘at his work to this very day’ (v17). Jesus too had very definite work to do, and when he had done it, he could say “it is finished” (John 19v30), and sit down at the right hand of the Father in Heaven (Heb 1v3)


So let’s look at Jesus’ work. Look at v19-21

19 Jesus gave them 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.

First can someone explain ‘he can do only what he sees his Father doing’ (v19)?


We might sometimes say ‘I could see my father doing that’. We mean: ‘knowing the character and attributes of my father, that is exactly what he would have done had he been here’.


As a diversion, is it possible for us to ‘see what our Father is doing’ and act in accordance with that? Can we copy what Jesus did?

By copy I mean to imitate, be inspired by. Look at Ephesians 5:1-2


1 Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children 2 and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

(Also Ephesians 4v32)

So verse 19 could read ‘Can only do what he would expect the Father to do’


But actually it goes further than that: John 5:20

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.


In a sense then their work must be the same.


Let’s look at John Chapter 10. Someone read John 10:30 ‘I and the Father are one’.


18 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.


Was Jesus really saying ‘I am God’? Did the people really understand that from what he was saying?


Listen to the people Jesus was talking to: John 10:33

33 “We are not stoning you for any of these,” replied the Jews, “but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.”


Also look at John 14:8-10

8 Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.” 9 Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work


What does ‘equality with God’ involve? What words can we use to describe God?

Almighty

Omniscient

Omnipresent

Infinite in perfection


Theologically we say that Jesus is fully God and Fully man, but at the same time Jesus was totally subordinate to the Father.


Look at the verses on the sheet. (Final page) Look at John 12:49-50

49 For I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it. 50 I know that his command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say.”


Does this limit Jesus in any way?

He can only act in accordance with the nature and will of God.

Is that a restriction?


Partners running a business have equal authority, but often one will be in charge of one area and another in charge of a different area. They trust each other to make the right decisions because they know each would have done the same.


But does Jesus have a work that is uniquely his, that the Father could not do?

Obviously, as God is life (has life in himself) he cannot die, and therefore could not purchase our salvation.


Jesus was granted to have life in himself (v26) but he also had the power to lay it down (John 10v18 No-one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”)


Only Jesus could do this. And God himself could not become sin:

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21)


And God himself could not pour out the blood of the covenant (Mat 26v18) as an acceptable sacrifice for sin.

This was Jesus’ primary task: John 12:27

27 “Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour.


There were other things unique to Jesus which we will continue with in the next study.



Handout Verses



Jesus is at all times under command:


This command I received from my Father. John 10:18

I do exactly what my Father has commanded me. John 14:31

I have obeyed my Father’s commands. John 15:10

I do know him and keep his word. John 8:55


Jesus has no will of his own:


I seek not to please myself but him who sent me. John 5:30

For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. John 6:38

“My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. John 4:34

The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him.” John 8:29


Jesus has no initiative of his own:


The Son can do nothing by himself John 5:19

By myself I can do nothing John 5:30

I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me. John 8:28

I have not come on my own; but he sent me. John 8:42

The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. John 14:10


Jesus has no message of his own:


Jesus answered, “My teaching is not my own. It comes from him who sent me. John 7:16

What I have heard from him I tell the world John 8:26.

I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me. John 8:28

For I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it. I know that his command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say.” John 12:49-50

He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me. John 14:24






John 5a John 5c NIV Copyright