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March 21, 2012 – Wednesday of the Fourth Week of Lent. The reading is from Gospel of John 5:17-30

But Jesus answered them, “My Father is at work until now, so I am at work.”

For this reason the Jews tried all the more to kill him, because he not only broke the sabbath but he also called God his own father, making himself equal to God.

Jesus answered and said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, a son cannot do anything on his own, but only what he sees his father doing; for what he does, his son
will do also.

For the Father loves his Son and shows him everything that he himself does, and he will show him greater works than these, so that you may be amazed.

For just as the Father raises the dead and gives life, so also does the Son give life to whomever he wishes.

Nor does the Father judge anyone, but he has given all judgment to his Son, so 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.

Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes in the one who sent me has eternal life and will not come to condemnation, but has passed from death to life.

Amen, amen, I say to 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 also he gave to his Son the possession of life in himself.

And he gave him power to exercise judgment, because he is the Son of Man.

Do not be amazed at this, because the hour is coming in which all who are in the tombs will hear his voices and will come out, those who have done good deeds to the resurrection of life, but those who have done wicked deeds to the resurrection of condemnation.

“I cannot do anything on my own; I judge as I hear, and my judgment is just, because I do not seek my own will but the will of the one who sent me.”

Today’s reading John 5:17-30 is a continuation from yesterday’s (John 5:1-16).

In John 5:10 we read: So the Jews said to the man who was cured, “It is the sabbath, and it is not lawful for you to carry your mat.”

The Hebrew word Shabbat means “rest” or “cessation.” In English Shabbat is known as Sabbath.

In the Torah, the purpose of Shabbat observance is to remind the Jewish people of two very important events in their history: the creation of the world in which God creates the Heavens and the Earth in six days and rests on the seventh (Genesis 2:2–3; Exodus 20:11), and the deliverance from slavery in Egypt (Deuteronomy 5:15). So, Shabbat offers an opportunity to contemplate the spiritual aspects of life and spend time with one’s family.

  • On the seventh day God completed the work he had been doing; he rested on the seventh day from all the work he had undertaken. God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work he had done in creation. (Genesis 2:2–3)
  • For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them; but on the seventh day he rested.g That is why the LORD has blessed the sabbath day and made it holy. (Exodus 20:11)
  • Remember that you too were once slaves in the land of Egypt, and the LORD, your God, brought you out from there with a strong hand and outstretched arm. That is why the LORD, your God, has commanded you to observe the sabbath day. (Deuteronomy 5:12-15)

Philo (20 BC – 50 AD), was a Hellenistic Jewish Biblical philosopher born in Alexandria. He was also known as Philo of Alexandria, Philo Judaeus, Philo Judaeus of Alexandria, Yedidia, “Philon”, and Philo the Jew. He used philosophical allegory in an attempt to fuse and harmonize Greek philosophy with Jewish philosophy. His method followed the practices of both Jewish exegesis and Stoic philosophy.

Philo and some rabbis insisted that God’s providence remains active on the Shabbat, keeping all things in existence, giving life in birth and taking it away in death. Other rabbis taught that God rested from creating, but not from judging (= ruling, governing).

In this verse, But Jesus answered them, “My Father is at work until now, so I am at work.” (John 5:17) Jesus claims here the same authority to work as the Father, and, in the discourse that follows, the same divine prerogatives: power over life and death:

  • For just as the Father raises the dead and gives life, so also does the Son give life to whomever he wishes ((John 5:21)
  • Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes in the one who sent me has eternal life and will not come to condemnation, but has passed from death to life. Amen, amen, I say to 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 also he gave to his Son the possession of life in himself. ((John 5:24-26)

and judgment:

  • Nor does the Father judge anyone, but he has given all judgment to his Son, (Johnn 5:22)
  • And he gave him power to exercise judgment, because he is the Son of Man. (Johnn 5:27)

The following is a proverb or parable taken from apprenticeship in a trade:

Jesus answered and said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, a son cannot do anything on his own, but only what he sees his father doing; for what he does, his son will do also. (Johnn 5:19)

The activity of a son is modeled on that of his father. Jesus’ dependence on the Father is justification for doing what the Father does.

Jesus answered and said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, a son cannot do anything on his own, but only what he sees his father doing; for what he does, his son will do also. (Johnn 5:19)

The phrase “Gives life” in For just as the Father raises the dead and gives life, so also does the Son give life to whomever he wishes (Johnn 5:21) is a divine prerogative in the Old Testament. See the following:

  • See now that I, I alone, am he, and there is no god besides me. It is I who bring both death and life, I who inflict wounds and heal them, and from my hand no one can deliver. (Deuteronomy 32:39)
  • The LORD puts to death and gives life, casts down to Sheol and brings up again. (Samuel 2:6)
  • When he read the letter, the king of Israel tore his garments and exclaimed: “Am I a god with power over life and death, that this man should send someone for me to cure him of leprosy? Take note! You can see he is only looking for a quarrel with me!” (2 Kings 5:7)
  • For he afflicts and shows mercy, casts down to the depths of Hades, brings up from the great abyss. What is there that can snatch from his hand? (Tobit 13:2)
  • But your dead shall live, their corpses shall rise! Awake and sing, you who lie in the dust! For your dew is a dew of light,and you cause the land of shades to give birth. (Isaiah 26:19)
  • Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake; Some to everlasting life, others to reproach and everlasting disgrace. (Daniel 12:2)

The word “Judgment” in Nor does the Father judge anyone, but he has given all judgment to his Son, (Johnn 5:22) is another divine prerogative, often expressed as acquittal or condemnation. See the following:

  • Surely, the LORD will do justice for his people; on his servants he will have pity. When he sees their strength is gone, and neither bond nor free is left, (Deuteronomy 32:36)
  • Grant me justice, O God; defend me from a faithless people; from the deceitful and unjust rescue me. (Psalms 43:1)

The verses John 5:19–27 present realized eschatology, and John 5:28–29 are future eschatology; cf. Daniel 12:2.

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