Jesus said to the Jews, “Very truly, I tell you, the Son can do nothing on his own, but only what he sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, the Son does likewise. The Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing; and he will show him greater works than these, so that you will be astonished. Indeed, just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whomever he wishes. The Father judges no one but has given all judgment to the Son, so that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. Anyone who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him. Very truly, I tell you, anyone who hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life, and does not come under judgment, but has passed from death to life.
“Very truly, I tell you, the 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 just 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 be astonished at this; for the hour is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and will come out—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.”
From Sarah Mayfield
This passage contains a banquet of thought for a meditative journey, but this reflection covers only a snack sized portion. The reading begins right after Jesus heals the man at the pool of Bethesda. The man has been ill for 38 years and never can get down to the angel-stirred water in time to be healed. Jesus tells him to take up his bed and walk—but he does this on the Sabbath. The Jewish leaders want to kill Jesus for that, especially when he says, “My father is always working and so am I.” (5:17) To them, he claims equality with God. Jesus does not exactly claim equality though. Instead, he explains obedience.
Jesus does nothing by himself but only what he sees his father do. Though God shows Jesus everything he is doing, Jesus still does nothing on his own, nothing apart from his father’s will. What if we tried that? How would it feel to be so attentive that we checked every wish to see if we wanted what God wanted? What if we considered every action before we took it? It would be hard. At the same time, simply stopping long enough to ask the question would help us follow Jesus’s example.
It would also enrich our lives. The Jews want to kill Jesus because they think he is going against God, but Jesus tells them that if they do not honor the Son, they certainly cannot honor the father. Jesus’s obedience makes it easy for him to stand up to them. What would our obedience help us to do?