This entire section mentioned above is one discourse. All of this comes from the mouth of the Lord Jesus Christ. And He is speaking to the Jewish leaders of Israel who are called by John as the Jews. They want Him dead. They consider Him a blasphemer of the worst kind. They are convinced that He is a threat to their religion, their self-styled secure religious position and power.
They see Him as disregarding the conventional wisdom as dishonoring God, as threatening their religious system. They have heard Him repeatedly attack the hypocrisy of their false religion. They have watched Him show nothing but disdain for their non-biblical traditions by which they have attempted to embellish Scripture. He is their main enemy by their own choice.
And the purpose of this section is to declare to them that He is the Messiah and more, He is God. He gives that testimony of His equality with God to begin this long section and then He calls on witnesses to the truth from John the Baptist, witness from His miracles, witness from God the Father and witness from the Scripture. And so here begins His own testimony to His identity.
The heart and soul of the Christian faith, the heart and soul of the gospel is a right view of Jesus Christ. There are some who see Jesus as a good man, a noble man and maybe as a highly spiritual sensitive man. That’s not correct. The attack on His deity, the fact that He is God, started with the Jewish leaders here in His own country during His ministry. They attacked Him for His claim to be God.
They saw it as outright blasphemy. The next generation picked up the assaults, though Jesus was now gone, the gospel was being proclaimed in Israel and around the world and they continued to attack Jesus as a transgressor, a blasphemer, a man who was a powerful deceiver, who led people astray when He was alive, and now His disciples are leading people astray continually.
Throughout all of human history, the pseudo-scholars and the skeptics of Israel have kept up this attack and it goes on even today. And even within Christianity, some see Jesus as human and not as God. The testimony of John 20:31 is that you might believe that Jesus is the Son of God, because when you believe that, you can have life in His name. If you do not believe that, you will perish in hell in your sins.
So the question of who is Jesus Christ is the most important question. The Holy Spirit has declared that He is God in John 1. The early disciples declared that He is God in John 1. John the Baptist declared that He is the Lamb of God, the Savior early in the gospel of John. His miracles are proof that He is divine. His omniscience shows that He is God. And John has covered all that.
Then John 5 recorded one of the most important miracles that Jesus ever did. But it didn’t lead to the salvation of the man He healed, even though the man was healed on the spot, instantaneously and completely. He told the man to pick up his bed and go, which he did. That miracle Jesus purposely did on the Sabbath. And now He declares that He is Lord of the Sabbath.
Jesus has no interest in the Jewish traditions that have encumbered the Sabbath with many man-made laws. And then when they come at Him, look at verse 16, they begin persecuting Him because He was doing good things on the Sabbath. We see that He had a pattern of healing on the Sabbath, what they by their tradition had decided was not legal because it was a form of work.
So Jesus was doing work and causing someone else to do work on the Sabbath. At this point He could have had a discussion with them about the true use of the Sabbath. He could have had a discussion about the man carrying the bed and He could have had a discussion about what ought to be done on the Sabbath. But on this occasion, it becomes a discussion about who He is.
Jesus gives the greatest, most extensive declaration of His deity that He gives anywhere. It answers the question, “Who is Jesus Christ?” Remember, the Jewish leaders had made their decision. In John 8 they call Him a Samaritan which was a label that belonged to apostate outcasts. In John 7 and John 8 they say He’s possessed by demons. In John 8:41 they say He is a bastard child.
Matthew 12:24 tells us that they finally declared that what He did was by the powers of Satan. And that view has been perpetuated down through the history of the Jewish religion through the centuries. And so they come after Jesus with those conclusions to persecute Him as a blasphemer. And that’s precisely what they say He was, by declaring Himself to be God.
Now if it’s true that He is God, it is not blasphemy. So if you’re going to reject Christ, you reject the Bible. If you reject the deity of Jesus Christ, you have just thrown away your Bible. There is no such thing as a well-intentioned scholar that denies the deity of Jesus Christ. That is devilish and it disintegrates the Scripture. If Jesus is not God, there is no Christianity, the Bible is all a fabrication from hell.
However, any faithful study of the account of His life and words leave no doubt that His claims were absolutely true. He did it frequently. He did it to the hostile Jews here in John 5, in John 6, again in John 8 and on many other occasions. He did it with His disciples again, most notably in John 16:28, “I came forth from the Father and have come into the world. Again, I leave the world and go to the Father.”
Jesus said that He had absolute authority over the divine Law of God. He said that He had power supernaturally to answer prayer, that He had authority to forgive sin, that He had control over angels, holy and fallen, and that He had power over the Kingdom of God. And He declared that He had the right to be honored, glorified, praised, worshiped and obeyed. Those are prerogatives that belong only to God.
All these lines of testimony come together and converge in one inescapable truth, Jesus claimed to be God, not to be another God equal to God, but to be God. The Jews probably thought that He was claiming to be another God which would have been preposterous because there was only one true God and the Ten Commandments pronounced judgment on anybody who has another God.
Jesus said in John 17:21, “As You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us.” He said in John 14:9, “If you’ve seen Me, you’ve seen the Father.” This is Trinitarian. To say anything other than that about Jesus is to obliterate the teaching of Scripture. Devout Jewish followers of Jesus, His apostles, those who believed in Him had no problem acknowledging that His claim was true.
They affirmed that He is God, not another God, but the One true God and it is that conviction in the hearts of His original followers that is still the conviction in the hearts of His true followers today. And those of you who are Christians, those of you who belong to the Lord Jesus Christ, you believe that Jesus is God, Amen? Not to affirm that is to dismiss the Jesus of Scripture.
And in John 5:17 - 24, our Lord claims to be God in five ways. He is equal to God in nature, essence, the substance of who He is. He’s equal to God in works. He is equal to God in power. He is equal to God in authority. And then most shockingly, He is equal to God in honor or worship. This is by the estimation of the people to whom He is speaking beyond blasphemous.
First, Jesus claims to be equal with God in nature or essence. Verse 17, “But Jesus answered them, “My Father has been working until now, and I have been working.” Let me tell you what the Jews thought. Does God keep the Law? Of course He keeps the Law. Well if you say that, you have a problem. Does God rest on the Sabbath? Of course because in Genesis 2:2 it says that on the seventh day, God rested.
But if that is taken too far, it creates a serious problem because if God isn’t doing work, every time Saturday comes around, the whole universe collapses. Now the Jews had developed 39 categories to kind of restrict behavior on the Sabbath. They knew that God continued to do His work of judgment and His work of redemption. So they said, God still works on the Sabbath but He does light work.
Jesus criticizes that entire ridiculous discourse when He says, “My Father is working until now.” It blew their minds that He said, “My Father,” no Jew would ever say that. No Jew personally would call God his personal Father because that would be way too familiar and that would be blasphemy. Jesus was saying to them the work of God goes on, it goes on all the time.
Einstein knew there was a power component somewhere in the midst of the atom that kept the entire universe moving but he never could identify what it was. It is God. He never rests from sustaining the physical world, He never rests from keeping everything in orbit, everything in rotation. He never rests from His justice judgment. He never rests from His blessing, mercy, grace and love.
In John 1:1 it says Jesus created the universe. In Hebrews 1 it says that He sustains the universe. So there is Jesus standing there, looking at those men, talking to them. And He at the same time is holding together the entire universe. God is never restrained. His work is never diminished because it is a Sabbath, and neither is My work. He is the Lord of the Sabbath and He made the Sabbath for man.
Verse 18, “Therefore the Jews sought all the more to kill Him, because He not only broke the Sabbath, but also said that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God.” And so it wasn’t only that He had broken their Sabbath, but that He called God His own Father and even made Himself equal with God by saying that God and He function in the same way. And they were seeking all the more to kill Him.
Verse 19, “Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner.” So Jesus even raises their fury in verses 19 because He claims to be equal with God in works. What does that say? Well it says that He does not act independently. He can do nothing of Himself. That’s the negative.
What is the positive? Whatever the Father does, Jesus also does. An amazing statement. Theologians through the years have discussed whether or not Jesus could have sinned. The answer comes in a number of passages, but here’s one of them. The Son can do nothing but what He sees the Father doing. That’s all He can do. He can only do what the Father does. And the Father cannot sin.
The one who always does and only does what God the Father does is equal to God. John 8:29, “He who sent Me is with Me. He has not left Me alone for I always do the things that are pleasing to Him.” John 14:31, “So that the world may know that I love the Father, I do exactly as the Father commanded Me.” He can only do and only does what the Father does.
To see Jesus in action is to see God in action. To accuse Jesus of sin is to accuse God of sin. To accuse Jesus of violating the Sabbath is to accuse God of violating the Sabbath. To accuse Jesus of blasphemy is to call God a blasphemer. Jesus is not another God. He is one with His Father and He gives us four reasons, and all four of them are introduced by a Greek preposition.
Verse 20, “For the Father loves the Son and shows Him all things that He Himself does; and He will show Him greater works than these that you may marvel.” He loves the way the Father loves. He has the power of life the same way the Father does. And He judges the same way the Father judges. He does the works of the Father, the work of judgment, the work of resurrection, all based on infinite, eternal love.
He is one in every sense with the Father. So in verse 19 He stuns them again by saying, Not only am I one with the Father in essence and nature, but I do exactly what the Father does, I do what the Father shows Me, I do what the Father wills for Me to do and I cannot do anything other than that. You are indicting Me for what God desires and what God is doing. How far from God you are.
The Father loves the Son and shows Him all things that He Himself is doing. God has not kept any secrets from the son. There’s nothing that the Father knows the Son doesn’t know. In His incarnation for a time on earth, He restricted the use of His divine attributes. But He didn’t abandon His divine attributes or He would cease to be God. The Father gives Him all the treasures of divine truth because of love.
Paul says in Colossians 2:3, “In Christ are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” The Father has all wisdom, all knowledge. The Son has all wisdom, all knowledge. The Father loves the Son so much that eternally He is granted the fullness of everything that He is to the Son. And it’s all based on love. Perfect union of the two guaranteed by mutual love.
The heart of God’s redeeming work is not God’s love for you, not God’s love for the world. Not God’s love for sinners. At the heart of redemption is the Father’s love for the Son and the Son’s love for the Father. The whole purpose of redemption, the whole purpose of human history is so that God can collect a bride to give to His Son, a bride that’s an expression of His love consisting of all believers. Let us pray.