Pastor's Corner: Like father, like son

Friday, October 5, 2012

In the ancient world, life normally followed a very simple and predictable path. If you were a boy, you did what your father did, and if you were a girl, you followed in your mother's footsteps. Your father or mother would show you what you needed to know. As you watched them, you learned how things were done, and then you would do them. A baker's son would become a baker, a farmer's son becomes a farmer, and a carpenter's son becomes a carpenter. The character of the father's work was normally reflected in the work of the son.

So what does it really mean to confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God? One of the most striking passages in the Bible on that subject is found in the fifth chapter of John's Gospel. Jesus heals a paralytic, instructing him to take up his bed and walk. Jewish authorities take offense, for the incident occurred on the Sabbath. Why would Jesus disregard their carefully defined restrictions about work and rest?

Jesus answered them, "My Father is working until now, and I am working" (v 16). Though God rested on the seventh day of creation week, he did not become inactive from that point on! Moment by moment, an omnipotent Creator governs and sustains the universe he has made, even on the Sabbath. Since this is necessary and permissible for God the Father to do, God the Son may do likewise.

Jesus' rationale further infuriated the Jewish leaders because they understood the implications. "This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God" (v 17-18) The Jewish Scriptures plainly teach there is only one God, and nobody is equal to Him. How can Jesus talk about God as if he is parallel with God?

Yet Jesus would not back down: "Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise" (v 19). Notice that Jesus does not claim to be another God, a rival challenger. Rather He claims to be one with the Father, only doing the Father's will, yet able to do all that the Father does. If the Father creates a universe, so does the Son. If the Father raises the dead, so does the Son. Huge claims!

In the remainder of John 5 Jesus claims to have power to give life and authority to execute judgment. He says that anyone who honors him honors the Father, but anyone who does not honor Jesus is not honoring the Father. Do you believe Him? Do you honor the Son for who He truly is?

Read the chapter for yourself and ponder the implications. What shall we make of a man who claims our response to him determines our eternal destiny? Is he crazy? Is he a liar? Or this is the best news ever: "Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life" (v 24).