Equal to God

Gospel of John #32  John 5:16-45

Here, in this passage, we find the basic claims about Christ made by the Gospel of John. How shall we as modern people understand these?

*First claim: Jesus is accused of making himself equal to God, which causes suspicion by the religious authorities who will arrest him for blasphemy.

*Implication: Jesus opens up a possibility for humanity, that we may also know the Spirit within ourselves, which is equal to God. How would you live according to this claim, assuming that your Spirit within comes from God and is equal to God? What kind of power does that provide for you?

**Another essential point, conveyed in the passage: our acquaintance with God entails a commitment. If we believe in God — (in the Spirit which is love, peace, and wisdom, for instance) –  then we will recognize the things of God. Jesus says in this passage that anybody who knows the scriptures (of Moses) and sees the works that Jesus performs (e.g. miracles) may attest on that basis that Jesus is sent by God.

**Implication: Who is God for you?  And what are the things of God that you recognize on that basis?  For instance, if God has touched you as a spirit of truth or freedom or healing, then do you honor that same spirit in others? The freedom, truth, and healing? If someone were to come along and claim a divine message, how would you decide its truth? What is equal to God for you?

Here’s a basic exposition of this passage.

In this passage (John 5:16-45), after Jesus heals the man at the pool of Bethsaida, an intensifying conflict is exhibited between Jesus and the authorities. It is not only because Jesus heals on the Sabbath that the religious authorities wish to arrest him but also because “he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.” (5:18) This claim to be equal to God counts as blasphemy according to the Jewish authorities.

Jesus goes on to claim that he has power to judge and to give life, just as the Father does. He also says that several testimonies prove that he embodies the spirit of God and comes from the Father: a) the testimony of John, the prophet; b) the testimony of the works of God that he does (such as healing); c) the testimony of the glory that comes from God; and d) the testimony of scriptures or the law of Moses.

The idea here is that if people have understood rightly all these testimonies, then they will recognize Jesus as sent by God.

Here’s the passage:

John 5: 16-47:  So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jewish leaders began to persecute him. 17 In his defense Jesus said to them, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working.” 18 For this reason they tried all the more 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: “Very truly I tell you, 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, and he will show him even greater works than these, so that you will be amazed. 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. 22 Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, 23 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.

24 “Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life. 25 Very truly I tell you, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live. 26 For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. 27 And he has given him authority to judge because he is the Son of Man.

28 “Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice 29 and come out—those who have done what is good will rise to live, and those who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned. 30 By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.

Testimonies About Jesus
31 “If I testify about myself, my testimony is not true. 32 There is another who testifies in my favor, and I know that his testimony about me is true.

33 “You have sent to John and he has testified to the truth. 34 Not that I accept human testimony; but I mention it that you may be saved. 35 John was a lamp that burned and gave light, and you chose for a time to enjoy his light.

36 “I have testimony weightier than that of John. For the works that the Father has given me to finish—the very works that I am doing—testify that the Father has sent me. 37 And the Father who sent me has himself testified concerning me. You have never heard his voice nor seen his form, 38 nor does his word dwell in you, for you do not believe the one he sent. 39 You study[c] the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me to have life.

41 “I do not accept glory from human beings, 42 but I know you. I know that you do not have the love of God in your hearts. 43 I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not accept me; but if someone else comes in his own name, you will accept him. 44 How can you believe since you accept glory from one another but do not seek the glory that comes from the only God[d]?

45 “But do not think I will accuse you before the Father. Your accuser is Moses, on whom your hopes are set. 46 If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me. 47 But since you do not believe what he wrote, how are you going to believe what I say?”