We learn from Jesus’ own words that Jesus represents the Father fully, but the Father also grants authority to Jesus. Jesus talks about this during a discussion with the Jewish leaders which is reported in John chapter 5.
Jesus had encountered a man who had been an invalid for 38 years. He healed him and told him to pick up his mat and walk, which the man did. But there was a problem: it was the Sabbath, and it was forbidden to carry one’s mat on the Sabbath.
How Jesus Upset the Jewish Leaders
After some inquiry from some Jewish leaders as to why the man was violating the Sabbath, he replied that the one who healed him told him to do it. Who was the one who told him this? Sure enough, it was that trouble maker Jesus. They had dealt with him before.
The story continues,
So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jewish leaders began to persecute him. In his defense Jesus said to them, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working.” For this reason they tried all the more to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.
They were not happy with Jesus’ response. He claimed that his Father was working on the Sabbath too, and it did not escape their notice that Jesus was talking about God—he was claiming that God was his own Father. This was unacceptable so they tried to kill him.
Jesus gave them this answer: “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, and he will show him even greater works than these, so that you will be amazed. For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it.
Jesus claims to be following the lead of his Father and even that the Father shows him all he does. This implies a tremendously intimate familiarity with God. Even the greatest prophets never suggested such a thing!
Jesus Makes an Incredible Claim
But Jesus isn’t finished yet. He follows up with an even bigger claim,
Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, 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.”
Did the Jewish leaders hear Jesus correctly? God entrusts all judgment to this Jesus! Just in case they were in doubt about what he said, Jesus tells them more clearly,
Very truly I tell you, 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. For 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 judge because he is the Son of Man.
There we have it: the Father grants all judgment authority to Jesus. However, we must not confuse judgment with condemnation; Jesus does not condemn us.
What Does this Mean to Us?
We learned two things about Jesus and the Father in these last two posts:
- Jesus represents the Father fully
- The Father grants all judgment to Jesus
To know the Father’s attitude toward us, we need only to discover Jesus’ attitude toward us; and we learn that Jesus welcomes us and wishes to give us rest and release our burdens. To know how we are judged, we need only to discover how Jesus judges us and realize that he understands us and wishes to take away the alienation we feel between us and the Father–we will begin to talk more about that next week.
If you have ever been frightened or confused by descriptions of an angry, violent, and vindictive God of the Old Testament, you need only see the Father through the perfect mirror of Jesus. The Old Testament writers described God as they understood him; and so does Jesus. But which understands the Father better?
I have to go with Jesus.
The Father loves each of us and wishes to establish a good relationship with us. This is his only attitude toward us.