Thursday 06 July 2017

Bible Book:

“Anyone who hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and does not come under judgement, but has passed from death to life,” (v. 24)

John 5:19-29 Thursday 6 July 2017

Psalm: Psalm 31:9-24


Our passage continues the account in verses 1-16 of the healing of a disabledman at the pool of Bethzatha. As regularly happens in John's GospelJesus' action provokes controversy with the religious authorities.Initially the issue is that Jesus and the man he has healed havebroken the Sabbath, but Jesus' reply provokes a greater storm, forhe justifies his action, not only by appealing to God's continuingactivity but by referring to God as his Father, which his accusersinterpret as a claim to be equal to God.

The Sabbath law rested on Genesis 2:2 and Exodus20:11, where God is said to have rested on the seventh dayafter the work of creation. But it was acknowledged that this wasnot a total rest, for without God's continuing activity the createdworld would collapse. Jesus appeals to this and makes it the modelfor his own work. The main part of our reading clarifies what thismeans.

Jesus is not a rival God. He acts only in obedience to hisFather, which means that his activity reveals the Father's natureand will. The passage then explores what this means in terms ofgiving life. The healing of the man at the pool is a kind ofparable of this, but what is in mind is life at two levels, lifebeyond death (resurrection at the last day, or even before - aswith Lazarus in chapter 11) but also eternal life, availablehere and now in response to Jesus and transcending day-to-dayexistence.

Our reading also refers to judgement. Such references sometimesseem contradictory in John's Gospel. Jesus does not come to condemnbut to bring life. But those who refuse him are self-condemned andcannot share the life he brings.

To Ponder

  • What place, if any, should there be for talk of judgement inpresenting the Christian message to unbelievers?
  • What, for you, do the words 'eternal life' suggest?

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