John 5:19–47—Testimonies About Jesus 

19 So Jesus explained, “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself. He does only what he sees the Father doing. Whatever the Father does, the Son also does. 20 For the Father loves the Son and shows him everything he is doing. In fact, the Father will show him how to do even greater works than healing this man. Then you will truly be astonished.21 For just as the Father gives life to those he raises from the dead, so the Son gives life to anyone he wants. 22 In addition, the Father judges no one. Instead, he has given the Son absolute authority to judge, 23 so that everyone will honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Anyone who does not honor the Son is certainly not honoring the Father who sent him.

24 “I tell you the truth, those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life.

25 “And I assure you that the time is coming, indeed it’s here now, when the dead will hear my voice—the voice of the Son of God. And those who listen will live. 26 The Father has life in himself, and he has granted that same life-giving power to his Son. 27 And he has given him authority to judge everyone because he is the Son of Man. 28 Don’t be so surprised! Indeed, the time is coming when all the dead in their graves will hear the voice of God’s Son, 29 and they will rise again. Those who have done good will rise to experience eternal life, and those who have continued in evil will rise to experience judgment. 30 I can do nothing on my own. I judge as God tells me. Therefore, my judgment is just, because I carry out the will of the one who sent me, not my own will.

31 “If I were to testify on my own behalf, my testimony would not be valid. 32 But someone else is also testifying about me, and I assure you that everything he says about me is true.33 In fact, you sent investigators to listen to John the Baptist, and his testimony about me was true. 34 Of course, I have no need of human witnesses, but I say these things so you might be saved. 35 John was like a burning and shining lamp, and you were excited for a while about his message. 36 But I have a greater witness than John—my teachings and my miracles. The Father gave me these works to accomplish, and they prove that he sent me.37 And the Father who sent me has testified about me himself. You have never heard his voice or seen him face to face, 38 and you do not have his message in your hearts, because you do not believe me—the one he sent to you.

39 “You search the Scriptures because you think they give you eternal life. But the Scriptures point to me! 40 Yet you refuse to come to me to receive this life.

41 “Your approval means nothing to me, 42 because I know you don’t have God’s love within you. 43 For I have come to you in my Father’s name, and you have rejected me. Yet if others come in their own name, you gladly welcome them. 44 No wonder you can’t believe! For you gladly honor each other, but you don’t care about the honor that comes from the one who alone is God.

45 “Yet it isn’t I who will accuse you before the Father. Moses will accuse you! Yes, Moses, in whom you put your hopes. 46 If you really believed Moses, you would believe me, because he wrote about me. 47 But since you don’t believe what he wrote, how will you believe what I say?”

Points of Interest

  • ‘the Son can do nothing by himself’—in today’s passage, Jesus is addressing the leaders’ outrage at Jesus claiming to be God’s close relative. I think we can basically sum up his answer as something like, ‘What’s the big deal?’ or, ‘Get used to it.’ Jesus points out that if they reject his claim to be God’s Son, they have to explain somehow the fact that he has just performed a miracle. ‘If God didn’t want me to heal on the Sabbath, I couldn’t have.’
  • ‘Whatever the Father does, the Son also does’—far from going against God’s wishes, Jesus is simply doing what he has seen God do, just like children imitate their parents. Like Father, like Son.
  • ‘he has given him authority to judge everyone’—Jesus told Nicodemus that God did not send him to judge, but to save (3:17). Here, though, he is given broad authority to judge. Then again, it seems that even here his primary intention is to give overflowing life, not to execute judgment. Perhaps the authority to judge is something God has given Jesus in case of emergency. Like a police officer with his gun, Jesus is warning the leaders, ‘Don’t make me use this.’ He’ll judge if he has to.
  • ‘the Scriptures point to me’—the Bible (‘scriptures’ here) is also just a sign, not the thing itself. These leaders are very attached to studying the Bible. But the act of studying the Bible is not, on its own, going to get them the good life. They must actually pay attention to where the Bible is trying to point them.
  • ‘Your approval means nothing to me’—Jesus is not explaining himself here because he needs their endorsement. He’s explaining himself to give them a chance to turn around before they end up with judgment and death instead of eternal life.

Taking It Home

  • For you: Does all this talk about life, the dead and judging seem a little hard to make sense of? None of us are quite sure how it all pans out after life on planet earth, but what does seem to be clear is that Jesus has a lot of life he wants to offer. Ask Jesus what the life is that he is offering you today? Talk to him particularly about any of the things going on that seem to be especially lacking vitality. Ask him to show you where the life is in those circumstances.
  • For your 6: Jesus’ audience refuses to come to him even though they are aware he probably has what they are looking for. Pray today about whatever reasons your 6 have for refusing to engage with Jesus. Ask Jesus to give them soft hearts and an openness to receiving what he is offering them.
  • For our church: Jesus’ MO is simply to watch for what God is doing and then do the same. Ask God to help our church embrace the same strategy in everything we do. Ask Jesus to help us only do what we see him doing. Pray we would get really good at listening to and watching him instead of just relying on our own plans, ambitions and timelines.