Scripture: So Jesus said to them, “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. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing. And greater works than these will he show him, so that you may marvel. For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will. For the Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him. 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.
“Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man. Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment. John 5:19-29 ESV
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Observation: Recapping Yesterday’s Daily Focus, John bridges the story of Jesus commanding a healed paraplegic to rise, take his bedroll, and walk with an ensuing confrontation with the religious leaders regarding Jesus’ supposed flouting of the Mosaic law concerning the observance of the Sabbath (the fourth commandment, Exodus 20:8-11). John also notes that these self-appointed guardians of the faith further charged Jesus with blasphemy by ostensibly making himself equal to God when claiming authority over the Sabbath. Thus, they sought to kill him.
Today’s devotion picks up with the ongoing conflict between Jesus and the religious leaders after John’s parenthetical explanation of why they persecuted Jesus. The remainder of this chapter covers Jesus’ response: his authority as the Son (today’s devotion) and witnesses to his sonship (tomorrow’s devotion). In the above passage, Jesus begins his defense by clarifying that he does not act on his own accord but only does what he sees the Father doing. Moreover, their mutual love spurs their collaboration. And at the heart of their work is the gift of life. But such a gift is not undiscerning. The Father has accorded Jesus the honor to judge rightly. As such, those who dishonor the Son will face judgment, but those who believe in him will pass from death to eternal life.
Jesus then changes the tone to create a sense of urgency. Utilizing prophetic language, he declares that judgment is imminent. And as a sign, all the dead will rise. Those who know the voice of the Son and have done good works will rise to eternal life. But those who rejected the Son and have done evil will face judgment.
Takeaway: John wants his audience to remember that Jesus always did the will of his Father. Accordingly, we learn that by seeking the Father’s direction, Jesus found sustenance (4:34), acted (5:19) and judged rightly (5:22-23), spoke as the Father taught him (8:28; 12:50), and abided in the Father’s love (15:9). And John also wants his readers to comprehend the intimate fellowship the Son enjoys with the Father, for the Son depends on his Father (v.19), is united in love (v.20), and empowered by the Father to grant eternal life (vv.21, 24).
Our takeaway? As adopted sons and daughters of the Father and siblings of the Son, we must rely on, behave, and communicate in a loving manner that aligns with the will of God. And we, too, must nurture an intimate relationship with the Father and Son if we want to align our thoughts, words, and deeds with their greater purpose. But because we live in a fallen world, this is not instinctive. Like Adam and Eve, we want to take charge of our destiny. We desire sustenance by worldly means (food, drugs, sex, social status, etc.). We want to judge what is right or wrong and speak out freely. But continuing this course will bring much suffering and eventual death to our spiritual beings. Conversely, if we surrender and seek the Father and Son’s will, we will thrive spiritually for eternity.
But how do we rise above our human nature and seek to do the Father and Son’s will? If we strive or hide, we will fail. But if we ask by faith, we will receive (Matthew 21:22). And when we receive, we will have joy (John 16:24). And our joy will be our strength (Nehemiah 8:10). Indeed, the Son who has authority over our world and all creation will complete the excellent work he has begun in us (Philippians 1:6) through his Holy Spirit, who teaches us (John 14:26), speaks truth to us (John 15:26), and intercedes for us (Romans 8:27) to ensure we persevere aligning with the God’s good, pleasing, and perfect will (Romans 12:2).
Prayer: Father God, thank you for your Son, who faithfully sought and faultlessly aligned with your will, for he has brought us the hope of the resurrected life in you. This extravagant expression of love for us is humbling and warrants our obedience to your will. Still, we confess that it is in our fallen nature to seek our will above yours. We struggle to align with your greater purpose for us consistently. So would you please help us cooperate with your Holy Spirit to keep realigning with your pleasing and perfect will? Amen.
Rev. Gordon Green, M.Div., M.A. Counseling