Thursday 16 April 2020

Bible Book:

Jesus said to them, '… the Son can do nothing on his own, but only what he sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, the Son does likewise.’ (v. 19) '… anyone who hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life ... he has passed from death to life.' (v. 24)

John 5:19-29 Thursday 16 April 2020

Psalm: Psalm 8


This passage is a reflection by Jesus responding to hostile Jewish authorities’ intent on killing him.

Verses 19-20 – Jesus’s self-defence is that he is only able to do and act as he sees his Father (God) acting. He can do nothing as an individual separate self. He is ‘one’ with his father, but this unity, is not one that he has created, but flows out of his intimate relationship with the Father.

Hearers will be astonished at what the Father acting through Jesus can do.

Verse 21 – The Father raises the dead and brings them life, so also the Son can give life to all he chooses.

Verses 22-23 – Jesus shares in two activities traditionally understood to belong to God: giving ‘life’; and exercising ‘judgement,’ reflecting Jewish belief that God will hold humans to account for their actions in the end times.

Here Jesus says that his Father has delegated to him, the role of judgement. The reason being that people will honour the Son as they honour the Father.

We might consider that Jesus, our human God-brother, knows first-hand what it is to live a limited human existence and is therefore well placed to judge us.

Verse 24 – Jesus says that a person believing his words has already passed from death to life eternal. The act of believing is the passing through and that person is not judged, not condemned.  

The phrase ‘passing’ is a reminder of the Israelites ‘passing’ from slavery into ‘freedom’ through the Red Sea. A changed status, but it still took 40 years before they embodied that freedom sufficiently, lived into it, to enter the Promised land.

Verse 25 – The time when the dead will hear the Son of God has come, and those who hear will live.

Verse 26-27 – Here Jesus explicitly makes himself equal with the Father. He can have ‘life’ in himself and ‘exercise judgement’ both activities reserved to God.

The Son of Man is a phrase which suggests Jesus is the archetype of every human, created in the image of God.

Verse 28-29 – The hour of judgement and resurrection is close, also for those who are already in their graves.


To Ponder:

  • Can you remember a time when you had a sense that God was doing something through you, beyond your individual capability? How would you describe your experience?
  • If judgement belongs to the Son, what stance should humans take regarding judging others or even themselves? How does that work in practice?
  • Is living intimately with God, more about ‘doing’ what we imagine God might want us to do, or about receiving the ‘being’ of God? What relationship do the ‘doing’ and ‘being’ have to each other? What might be the problems of separating them?
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