Father-Son Intimacies | John 5.19-24
So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing. And greater works than these will he show him, so that you may marvel. For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will. The Father judges no one, but has given 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. Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life. John 5.19-24 | ESV
So Jesus tried to explain himself to his scowling critics back in the temple court – and this was like being in court. And Jesus had a whole list of witnesses to call upon.
“Believe me, believe me,” Jesus began, “let me tell you this: A loving Son doesn’t make a habit of doing whatever he pleases, acting out of his own script and agenda – he’s totally entranced, wrapped up in what he sees his Dad doing; whatever Dad does, the Son follows suit and does the same. For Father totally adores Son and has this wide-open relationship with him. No secrets. No guesswork. He shows him exactly what he’s up to, exactly what he’s doing. And you better prepare yourselves: you haven’t seen anything yet. It’s going to blow your minds! Try this on for size: the Father makes a habit of raising up dead people, of infusing people who are flat lining with a healthy heartbeat; so what do you expect his Son to be doing when and where he sees fit? And you want to know what’s really funny, my oh so serious judges? Father doesn’t make a habit of judging anyone. No, he’s entrusted that job totally to me, the Son, so everyone honors the Son the way they honor the Father, and the fact is that whoever downplays the Son in actuality downplays the Father who commissioned and sent him to do what he does (which is, by the way, what you are doing in this little inquisition of yours).
Believe me, believe me! The one who really listens to what I have to say and so really trusts in the one who sent me to say it will be awash with life now and always; no need to fear any divine smack down of judgment. No. You’ve left all such fears and insecurities far behind you and have stepped fully into life! MAV (Mike’s Authorized Version)
Jesus does while the religious talk and talk and talk.
I can’t help but wonder what if Jesus hadn’t sought refuge in the five porches of Bethesda to escape the religious wrangling in the Temple. But eventually, they catch up to him. Now he has some “’splaining” to do. And the masters end up being lectured by the Master, as Jesus’ action among the porches is translated into words by those obsessed with the Pages.
The discourse of Jesus in the rest of John 5 becomes a classic exploration of the Father-Son dance that all of humanity is intended to join; unfortunately, too many of us choose to play the role of dance judges sidelined in the balcony instead.
Jesus is the living embodiment of the wondrous reality Paul announces in his letters to new believers everywhere: “You have not been given a spirit of slavery again that leads you to fear; you have been given a Spirit of Sonship by which we cry out, ‘Abba! Father!’ So then, you’re no longer a slave, but a son. And if you’ve been made a son, then God has also made you heirs” (see Galatians 4 and Romans 8).
Being slaves for God can have much more appeal to us than being sons of God. Slaves simply have to perform their prescribed duties, complete their assigned checklists; not much room for guesswork, creativity, or imagination. Just faithful performance. And, of course, slaves require junior overseers to help out the Master – and who doesn’t want that heady responsibility (at least we get to be the boss of someone).
How much engagement of heart and soul, how much more imagination does it take as a son to hear the Father’s heartbeat, to hear the rhythm of the song he is singing, and to enter into that. Jesus characterizes such a dance as being about bringing Life by means of death, and of being devoid of this whole business of dualistic, pugilistic judging of one another.
The Father is not in the business of judging anyone, says the Son. He’s given that job to me – and I’m in the business of “infusing people who are flat lining with a healthy heartbeat” and causing human beings with crippled bodies and souls to skip like deer.
Now that’s a dance…
When it comes to your walk with God, which better describes you: fearful slave or free, intimate Son? Why? How do we drop the chains of the one and enter the dance of the other?
Abba, let this be my primary, defining image of you: Abba! Send that cry into my heart afresh, and let it wash away the chains of religious servitude and bondage to fear. Draw me into the Father-Son, Father-Daughter intimacies that you have intended all along. Through Jesus.