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Jesus makes it clear he has authority, even to give life. King Jesus, the Messiah, challenges us to understand this. It is core to the new agreement we have with God through Him.

No one is making Jesus do it. Jesus does it because He wants to.

Jesus doesn’t shut anyone out. God handed all authority to judge over to Jesus. Anyone who dishonors Jesus, dishonors God, for it was God’s decision to put Jesus in the place of honor.

Good news: Jesus chooses to give us life. That is the good news we have today and forever.

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.[1]

(John 5:20-23)

The Father shows his Son everything that he (the Father) is doing. No trade secrets here! Jesus, the apprentice Son, sees and imitates the workmanship of the master craftsman, God his own Father. Indeed, his work is God’s work. God’s work is his work. They work together on the same project: in this case, the healing of an invalid—something like two surgeons performing the same operation together.

There’s no slippage between Jesus’ actions and those of God the Father. There’s not even a difference. And the basis of this correspondence is the Father’s love for the Son. It’s what motivates him to show the Son everything he’s doing.

  • Theologians talk about the “hypostatic” union of the persons of the Trinity.
  • “Hypostatic” means “having to do with the underlying divine essence, or nature, that all three persons of the Trinity have in common with each other.”
  • But the Trinity isn’t only a matter of shared, static essence. It’s also a matter of movement, interaction, social exchange—in our present passage, of love, divine love, God’s love for Jesus his Son.

What the Father is doing and showing Jesus presently is works of salvation like the healing that Jesus and the Father have just performed in conjunction with each other. (Here “works” replaces “signs” because of the controversy over working on the Sabbath.) The greater works that they’ll perform together in the future are resurrections, raisings of the dead.

You can think ahead to where Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead, and to Jesus’ raising himself from the dead. “In order that you may marvel” (5:20)—but marveling isn’t believing, because believing entails personal commitment, the entrusting of your salvation to Jesus as God’s Son.

Even unbelievers such as Jesus’ audience will marvel, though. The Son makes alive those whom he wills to make alive. Later he’ll distinguish between a resurrection of life and a resurrection of judgment, a resurrection that results in life and a resurrection that results in judgment.

  • Since judgment contrasts with life, judgment must mean condemnation, lostness, “the second death”.
  • So 5:21 must refer, not to a general resurrection of everybody, the righteous and the wicked alike, but only to the resurrection of the righteous. Only their resurrection results in life, eternal life.
  • And this kind of resurrection includes only those whom Jesus wishes it to include. Here we have divine selection again: “You didn’t select me; rather, I selected you” (15:16).

All this happens in cooperation with God the Father. But there’s an exception to the cooperation between Father and Son. The Father doesn’t judge anyone. He has given all judgment to the Son. Together, they raise the select to eternal life. But the resurrection to judgment—that’s the business of the Son by himself, alone.

Why has the Father delegated judgment to the Son alone? “In order that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father” (5:23). So, it isn’t only that Jesus makes himself equal with God, as 5:18 says. God himself makes Jesus his equal! So important is Jesus’ equality of honor with God that failure to give him such honor means failure to honor God. For God is the Father who sent his Son Jesus. It’s therefore troubling to hear Christians talk a lot about God without talking very much about Jesus, as happens among Christians who try to be politically correct. [2]

We have good news! Want to know how to be saved? Click here and here for more.

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Jn 5:20–23). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[2] Gundry, R. H. (2010). Commentary on the New Testament: Verse-by-Verse Explanations with a Literal Translation (pp. 375–376). Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers.