The implications of being the Son of God.

by K.W. Leslie, 25 July

And you thought it was just a nice title.

John 5.17-30

After Jesus cured the sickly man at the pool, the Judeans objected that he’d done so on Sabbath, to which Jesus responded like yea:

John 5.17-18 KWL
17 Jesus answered them, “My Father works today, just like I work.”
18 So the Judeans all the more wanted him dead for this reason:
Not only was he dismissing Sabbath custom,
but he said God was his own Father, making himself equal to God.

Now, why’d that outrage the Judeans? Sloppy interpreters say it’s because Jesus was claiming, “I can do whatever I want, because my Father can do whatever he wants. I’m as unbound by your Law as he is.” So the Judeans were offended because Jesus was claiming license to break the Law.

As they should be. When you break the Law, it’s sin. Yet Jesus was born under the Law, Ga 4.4 was held to the Law’s standard, Ro 2.12, 3.19 and didn’t sin. He 4.15 He didn’t violate the Law, despite anything lawless Christians claim—because they want license to break the Law.

Okay, so Jesus wasn’t talking about breaking the Law, nor having the divine prerogative to do so. So then why’d that outrage the Judeans?

In Roman culture—which had largely superseded the Hebrew patriarchal culture by this point in history—adult sons were considered equal in legal status to their fathers. They had the run of their father’s property; they held their father’s authority; they had full access to their father’s money; they were equal. So Jesus wasn’t saying, “I can cure on Sabbath because God told me it’s okay,” nor “I can cure on Sabbath because God commissioned me to do so.” He was saying, “I can cure on Sabbath because I’m legally equal to God.”

If that sounds blasphemous to you, you know it sure did to the Judeans.

But rather than back away from the idea, Jesus doubled down. Not only is the LORD his legitimate, literal Father, Lk 1.35 but you know how God’s gonna raise the dead 2Co 1.9 and judge the world Ps 96.13 when the End comes? Yeah… guess who he’s delegated all that to?

And the proof of it comes from the fact Jesus can heal. The Son doesn’t wanna go outside the Father’s will. The only reason he can cure the sick because he sees the Father cure the sick, and if the Father does it, this automatically authorizes the Son to do it. Hey, if the Father didn’t approve of curing the sick on Sabbath, why would the Holy Spirit grant Jesus the power to do so?

John 5.19-21 KWL
19 So in reply Jesus also told them, “Amen amen!
I promise you the Son can’t work anything by himself unless he sees the Father working.
For the Father might do anything, and the Son will do likewise,
20 for the Father cares for the Son, and shows him everything he does.
The Father’ll show him greater works—so you might be astounded!—
21 for just as the Father raises the dead and creates life,
so also the Son creates life in whomever he wants.”

You think Jesus curing the sick and throwing out demons is astounding? Just you wait. In the very near future, you’re gonna read stories from the gospels about Jesus raising the dead. And during the End Times, there’s gonna be even more.

The Son’s your judge. Better give him respect.

We don’t see much in the Old Testament about how the afterlife and resurrection works. That part of the bible only contains hints. Our details come from the New Testament—what there are of ’em, ’cause Jesus prefers to be vague and mysterious. (’Cause he wants us to do good now, not focus so much on the future and heaven that we wind up doing nothing for the lost and the suffering. Likely you already know Christians who act like that.)

So what did the Pharisees of Judea know about the afterlife and resurrection? Not a lot. But they did believe at the end of the age, at the resurrection, God’ll sort us into saved and unsaved, chosen and rejected, those who go to eternal life and those who go to eternal death.

Well, here Jesus said the Father delegated that judgment to him.

John 5.22-24 KWL
22 “For the Father doesn’t judge anyone: Instead all the judgment was given to the Son,
23 so everyone might respect the Son like they respect the Father.
Disrespecting the Son disrespects the Father, his sender.
24 Amen amen! I promise you the hearers of my word, the believers in my sender,
have life in the next age and don’t come into judgment.
Instead they passed over: Out of death, into life.”

This is kind of a big deal. If anybody was expecting to get to heaven by doing an end-run around Christ Jesus, it’s never gonna happen. He’s the judge. Dismiss the judge, and you dismiss the Father who appointed him.

Yeah, I know how a lot of evangelists like to depict our judgment. There’s the Father seated on a big white throne, doing all the judging. If this courtroom is meant to be held right after we die, sometimes Satan’s the prosecutor; if it takes place at the very End, Satan’s already in hellfire… and we’re next. But then Jesus stands up as our defense attorney, telling the Father, “Oh, they’re totally guilty, but I paid their fine so you need to declare ’em free to go.” Some evangelists don’t know the scriptures, so they figure God actually declares us “Not guilty.”

The defense-attorney imagery does come from the bible; specifically 1 John 2.1. But that refers to now, not the End. At the End, Jesus assumes the role of judge—but he already judged us long before, so despite how the evangelists describe it, there’s no trial. Just sentencing. Those who stand up and object, “But Lord…” Mt 7.22 won’t do so during any trial, but after sentence is passed. And Jesus isn’t taking appeals. You chose your path long before he put you on it.

The evangelists like to claim God’s gonna inventory our whole lives at the End—so stop sinning, ’cause Judgment Day is gonna be so embarrassing. But the idea of going through every single sin we Christians have ever committed, violates who God is. Love doesn’t keep track of wrongdoing! 1Co 13.5 God forgave all that stuff long ago. There is no inventory. Just grace.

All this authority, Jesus says, is because the Father wants humanity to respect the Son. The Son isn’t any minor figure or lesser being; some great moral teacher but nothing more. Jesus is the king of God’s kingdom. He deserves nothing less than the same respect we give the LORD.

Y’know, there are actually Christians who teach Jesus is a lesser being. Since Jesus submitted to his Father’s will, Jn 5.19 they assume the Father’s the one who’s really God, and Jesus is a subordinate god or lesser god or demigod. It’s a heresy we theologians call Arianism. People embrace Arianism because they won’t accept the idea of the trinity, and think it lessens God to worship Jesus alongside him. But this idea of worshiping Jesus alongside the Father is the Father’s idea—and doesn’t lessen God because Jesus is God. Any hierarchy you think you see between the Father and Son, makes no difference as far as we’re concerned. Respect the Son, same as the Father who sent him.

The Son of Man has come. Now.

Once again, Jesus brought up the Son of Man, the End Times figure from Daniel who takes over the world, Da 7.13-14 whom he identified himself as. It wasn’t just a clever title: He’s that guy, the fellow who takes command of God’s kingdom. And just as he’s in charge of judgment, turns out he’s also in charge of resurrection.

John 5.25-30 KWL
25 “Amen amen! I promise you the hour’s come:
Now is when the dead will hear the Son of God’s voice, and the hearers will live.
26 For just as the Father has life in himself, so also he gives life to the Son, to have in himself.
27 The Father gave him authority to make judgment, because he’s the Son of Man.
28 Oh, don’t be astounded at this: The hour is come!
In it, everyone in the tombs hears the Son’s voice 29 and will come out!
Those who did good enter the resurrection of life.
Those who achieved irrelevant things enter the resurrection of judgment.
30 I can’t do anything by myself. I judge as I hear, and my judgment is right:
I don’t seek my own will, but the will of my sender.”

Everybody gets resurrected. And like I said, when Jesus raises us his followers, we won’t be judged. We heard the gospel and trusted God, so he graciously saved us and destroyed sin and death for us. As a result, we follow him and do the good deeds he set out for us, Ep 2.10 which is why Jesus describes us with the shorthand term, “Those who did good.” Jn 5.29

The non-followers undergo the anástasin kríseos/“resurrection of judgment.” Jn 5.29 They get raised too. But they never embraced God’s grace, rejected his Messiah, and think their “good deeds” are enough to earn ’em heaven. No surprise, they’re found wanting. Jesus finds their deeds fávla/“irrelevant.” The KJV over-harshly translates the word as “evil,” but they’re not evil so much as pathetic.

From time to time Jesus announces “The hour’s come” Jn 5.25 because he’s not speaking about the future: This is happening now. Parts of God’s kingdom take place now. Not in the future after Jesus returns; already. We have access to God’s kingdom already. Kinda like Americans visiting another country, who can nonetheless use their American credit cards and mobile phones. We can tap kingdom resources, same as Jesus.

So when Jesus says now the dead hear the Son of God’s voice, he’s not talking about the future; he’s talking about now. If he wants to, he can raise the dead now. He’s got that life in himself, remember? Jn 5.21 If he wants to, we can raise the dead now: We have the same Holy Spirit as Jesus. Someday he’ll call everyone out of their graves, but make no mistake: This wasn’t a future power of his. And it’s not a future power of ours.

But it’s not license to run amok.

“Don’t be astounded at this,” Jesus says, Jn 5.28 and the problem is we humans tend to. We covet power. Once we realize Jesus has all this power, we covet Jesus—not because we want him, but because we want to tap that power. I’ve seen plenty of Christians let his power go to their heads.

Once we realize Jesus has such awesome power, and grants us such awesome power, we don’t follow his example, look at what the Father is doing (or even what the Son is doing), and do likewise. We do our own thing. We start judging people right and left. “Stop that; you’re gonna go to hell!” Or just plain “Go to hell.”

We condemn people for their sins, instead of introducing them to the one who forgives sins, who wants to save them, ’cause they’re his kids too. We figure we’re right ’cause we follow the one who’s always right—even though we’re still wrong, and are gonna stay wrong as long as we do our will instead of his.

Jesus practices self-control. He doesn’t act on his own initiative. He does only as the Father wants. Jn 5.30 His will conforms to the Father’s will. As should ours. Power doesn’t belong in our hands; only God’s, ’cause he knows how to wield it. We shouldn’t presume to have it just because we have a relationship with Christ. We need to remain his willing instruments, who do only as we see our Lord doing, and who judge only as he judges.

Got that? Good. No more of this “Jesus is God and didn’t have to obey the Law” crap.