(A) Introduction. (Read the reference.)

There are some commentators, including the esteemed Prof. William Barclay, who claim that John puts the words of this passage into the mouth of Jesus. It would be a very foolhardy man to ascribe to Jesus sentiments he did not express especially ones as explosive as those recorded here. The intense, murderous hatred the Jewish establishment had for Jesus was kindled by his assumption of an absolutely unique relationship with God the Father.

It is best to approach the verses of our study from the viewpoint of a son talking naturally and affectionately about his relationship with his father. It is what sons do! Last week I had a visit from my cousin Bernard. He talked to me warmly about his father, my uncle Stephen. I sometimes felt that Stephen got on better with his Reed nephews than his own son. Bernard was able to tell me that shortly before his father died their relationship was improving - they were warming to each other. It was good to hear him talk about his father.

That is what Jesus does in this passage. The only difference between him and any other loving son is that his father is Almighty God. Jesus was not a bad man but either he, or John, was seriously deluded if the testimony recorded in John5v16to30 is not true.

(B) His relationship.

The remarks of Jesus about himself and his father were prompted by criticism. Jesus talked about his father to justify working on the Sabbath. I might do the same. There are those who condemn me for remaining in a Grace Baptist church in spite of rejecting doctrines like unconditional election. I remained a member of the Brockley church where my father was the pastor for 28 years because I loved him and was loyal to him.

Let us look at the relationship between Jesus and God the Father:

(1) The Father takes his son into his confidence.
"For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, to your amazement, he will show him even greater things than these." v20.

There were no secrets between Father and Son. God was perfectly open with Jesus showing him the great scheme of redemption at which he tirelessly worked.

Where a father and son are both concerned in the family business the success of the operation depends upon mutual respect and trust. I know of several farming enterprises where father and son work hand in glove. The father would never take a decision without talking it over with his son.

God the Father and Jesus the son are like that - hand in glove - in permanent consultation with one another.

(2) The Son worked in the same way as his Father.
He was the Holy Apprentice. Jesus admired his Father and in every way sort to emulate him. Jesus said to them, "My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too am working. v17.

God rested from his work of creation on the seventh day but he has never rested from his redemptive work. God does not take time off from watching over us or listening to our prayers. He does not periodically suspend his providential care. God is continuously active and tirelessly vigilant as redemption's plan unfolds. So Jesus justifies healing the paralysed man on the Sabbath and giving him the chance of a new beginning.

We accept that certain work must be done on a Sunday. The sick need caring for and essential services maintained. We would not be happy about all police being off duty on a Sunday. Sunday is a day of worship for Christians rather than a day of rest. It is foolish to be legalistic and self-righteous about Sunday observance. The tragedy is not that people play sport on Sundays, but that so few have any desire to honour Jesus on the day we celebrate his resurrection.

(3) The Son works with his father.
Jesus worked in harmony with his Father. "Whatever the Father does the Son also does." v19. "For I seek not to please myself but him who sent me."

That is how it should be. I have a friend, Roger, who worked with his father on the family farm for 40 years. I don't suppose in all that time they had a cross word between them. They farmed together in perfect amity. How Roger missed his father when he died in his late 90's!

There was no clash of will between God the Father and his Son. They had a common purpose - the salvation of men - and to that end they worked in total accord.

(4) The common bond.
The happy partnership of Jesus and his Father was based on love. "For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does." v20.

Corrie ten Boon describes in her book, 'In my Father's House', how she learned from and worked with her father, the Haarlem watchmaker. He was an expert in his trade. Corrie writes: How my father helped me when I had difficulties in the work. 'And who in the world should I help with more joy than my own daughter?' he often said.

And who in the world should God help with more joy than his own Son who was doing his work. Our relationship with Jesus should be like his relationship with the Father. Jesus once said, "I in them and you in me." John17v23. Christians should: know his will, follow his example, work in harmony with his Spirit and be motivated by love. We should never forget his words: "As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love." John15v9. "My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you." v12.

(C) His role.

Jesus talks, as any son might who is working in the family business, of the work he has been given to do. Jesus outlines the role he plays in the redemptive process.

(1) Jesus gives new life to the spiritually dead. "The Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it." v21. "I tell you the truth, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live." v25.

Jesus has come to restore the spiritually dead - men and women who have no relationship with God. Those who are dead towards God exhibit the following symptoms:

(a) Ignorance.
Most people who I see shopping in Bury St Edmunds on Thursday mornings are dead to me. They don't know me from Adam. I am a perfect stranger to them. This sums up many individuals' relationship with God - they do not know him - he is the Great Unknown. John tells us that Jesus the One and Only Son has made him known. John1v17.

(b) Indifference.
During my teaching years there were some children with whom I had no relationship because they were indifferent to me. They knew I was there but would have preferred it if I wasn't. These pupils didn't care about me and ignored my existence.

I taught a girl called Claire for three years. She never spoke a word to me - not a single word. Then one day she smiled. It was a red-letter day. Perhaps it was a wintry smile but nevertheless it was a smile I have never forgotten.

I think most people in the world know that God is there but they are indifferent to his presence. God is taken for granted by the majority in Western Europe. Few care about pleasing him. There is no sorrow for sin! Jesus came that cold-hearted sinners might smile in God's direction; it is through Jesus that we can truly follow the advice of Solomon: In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. Prov3v6.

(c) Lack of communication.
A husband and wife realise their marriage is dead when they stop communicating. Very often pupils who were particularly fond of me would write for a few years after they left school. Gradually the correspondence dropped off. Absence does not make the heart grow fonder. Affection and friendship feed off frequent contact. Eventually the letters stop altogether and the relationship I had with my warm-hearted students dies. They are dead to me. So many now are dead to me.

After Paul urges the Ephesians to put on the whole armour of God he writes: And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. Eph7v18. If we do not pray to God our Father then no relationship exists between us. Jesus came that we might be born again into God's family. Christians turn to God as naturally and confidently as little children run to their daddy.

(d) Anger.
I taught a few children who did not like me. They were so hostile it was impossible to get through to them. Quite often it was the younger brother or sister of children who had passed through my hands and who had been badly affected by blood curdling anecdotes told to scare them. It would take many, many months before the scales of prejudice dropped from their eyes and they began to see me for themselves. It was always a wonderful experience when animosity gave way to affection.

Jesus came to earth to show us how much God loved us. John writes in his first epistle: This is how God showed his love among us. He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 1John3v9. I am sometimes tempted to be angry with God. Whenever I read in the psalms of David about God being a refuge in time of trouble I think of the holocaust. Where was God for his people then? I cannot remain angry with God for long because I know that he sent his Son to be the Saviour of the world, to make that final sacrifice for sin on Calvary's tree.

Jesus will change all who believe in him. He will bring the dead to life. We can enter into a new and living relationship with God the Father through Jesus. Christians do know God, care about him, talk to him and love him. Whoever hears and accepts the word of Jesus has crossed over from death to life. v24. Paul writes: Therefore; if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ. 2Cor5v17and18.

(2) Jesus gives eternal life to all who believe in him. Jesus said: "I tell you the truth, whoever hears my words and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned." v24. "For a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out - those who have done good will rise to live ..." v28.

These verses contain three wonderful promises:
(a) Believers will not stand condemned at Christ's return to earth. Paul affirms: Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. Rom8v1.

(b) We will rise bodily from the grave to live. Paul writes these wonderful words to the Corinthians: And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven. 1Cor15v49.

(c) The resurrection life will be eternal in its quality. Our present life gives us glimpses of how it will be. I have been ecstatic with joy when out walking in the spring with the trees just breaking into leaf, blue sky overhead and the scent of newly cut grass in my nostrils. This is akin to the rapturous delight I shall take in God's new creation. One afternoon the Debenham School secretary poked her head into the staff room and said, "John there is someone to see you in the office." It was Chloe - a former pupil. She said, "I couldn't leave without giving you a big hug." All too soon the bell rang and I went to my next lesson. As I walked into the classroom one of the pupils called out, "Mr Reed, you're happy today." I was visibly very happy because I had received a small expression of love. Just imagine how it will feel to be with Jesus who loves us more than tongue can tell.

(3) Judge humanity after the resurrection.
God the Father does not judge - but God the Son. "Moreover, the Father judges no-one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son." v22.

(a) This is fitting. "And he (God) has given him authority to judge because he is the Son of Man. v27. The title, 'Son of Man', may seem strange because we are all sons, or daughters, of men. Deborah described herself as a Mother in Israel. Judges5v7. Deborah probably means by this that she displayed the motherly virtues in the care of her people. The prophetess represented all the mothers of Israel in her commitment to protect and preserve the nation.

So the term, 'Son of Man', signifies that Jesus is our representative - the Second Adam. It is only fitting that men are judged by a man, the representative man, the one who was in all points tempted as we are yet without sin.

(b) The criteria he will use. Jesus will not condemn those who trust him and who reveal the genuineness of their faith by works. Those who have done good will rise to live. v29. Over and over again in the New Testament the importance of works to the outcome of the Final Judgment is stressed. See Article on Last Judgment.

(c) The quality of judgment. Christ's judgment will be reliable and just. Jesus said, "I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me." v30. The judgment of Jesus will be in harmony with the knowledge and desire of God the Father. It will not err.

Later in John's gospel Jesus says: As for the person who hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge him. For I did not come to judge the world but to save it. There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; that very word which I spoke will condemn him at the last day. John12v47and48. This is how it must be. I was still coaching football as I neared the end of my teaching career. It was clear to me that because of my age I was beginning to lose credibility. The little boys were not turning up to the practices although they still wanted to play matches. Eventually I gave them an ultimatum: "Turn up to the practices or there will be no matches." When they failed to turn up to the next coaching session the word that I spoke condemned them.

Jesus could not have made it clearer: believe and live; disbelieve and you won't live. This is how it must be if Jesus is to retain his integrity and if our actions are to have meaning. If it doesn't matter what we do then our decisions are denied significance. God grants us the freedom to reject his Son and face the consequences.

(D) His reward.

Jesus is happy to inform his hearers of the reward he will receive from his grateful Father. "Moreover, the Father judges no-one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, that all may honour the Son just as they honour the Father. He who does not honour the Son does not honour the Father who sent him." v22and23.

(1) It is understandable that God expects men to honour his Son. Jesus came into the world to save sinful men. He accomplished the task the Father gave him to do. He laid down his life to set us free from condemnation and to give us right of entry into the family of God.

(2) Billions honour him. Think of the hymns Christians sing. So many are in praise of Jesus.

            Christ triumphant, ever reigning,
            Saviour, Master, King,
            Lord of heaven, our lives sustaining,
            hear us as we sing:
            Yours the glory and the crown,
            the high renown, the eternal name.

(3) Finally, all will honour him. That is why the unrighteous are resurrected. They will ultimately have to bow the knee to Jesus. They will not do so in humble adoration but because they have to. Unbelievers will submit at last to the Son's power and glory - and it is only just that they should.

            Look, ye saints, the sight is glorious,
            See the Man of Sorrows now!
            From the fight returned victorious!
            Every knee to him shall bow:
            Crown Him! Crown Him!
            Crown Him! Crown Him!
            Crowns become the Victor's brow.

But nothing will exceed the honour done Jesus by the ransomed in the summer land of love:

            Oh that, with yonder sacred throng
            We at his feet may fall,
            Join in the everlasting song
            And crown him Lord of All.