Daily D – John 5:17

by | Sep 15, 2021 | Daily D | 0 comments

Jesus responded to them, “My Father is still working, and I am working also.”
JOHN 5:17 (CSB)

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Does God keep his own laws?

Earlier in this chapter of John’s Gospel, Jesus healed a man on the Sabbath who had been disabled for thirty-eight years (verse 5). Then he told the man, “Pick up your mat and walk,” (verse 11).

Carrying a load from one house to another on the Sabbath was forbidden by the Tradition as a protective measure to prevent a person from breaking God’s law against work on the Sabbath. Jesus instructed the man to break the Tradition which was considered a more serious violation than breaking the Tradition himself. Causing someone else to sin was a greater sin than the sin the other person committed.

When Jesus was inevitably confronted on this matter he said, “My Father is still working, and I am working also.” At first glance, Jesus does not say much here that we are not accustomed to hearing. Look closer.

Jesus said, “My Father.” This little pronoun followed by this noun is a powerful theological construction. The Jews understood immediately what Jesus meant. “Not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal to God,” (verse 18).

The pronoun, My, denotes an exclusive relationship. It is what John has been telling us since 1:1. It is the main feature of 3:16, 17. Jesus has a unique, one-of-a-kind relationship with God the Father. No one else has this unique relationship. The Jewish leaders understood the implication. They also rejected it.

Then Jesus said, “My Father is still working, and I am working also.” This was piling heresy on top of heresy to the Jewish leaders. Their understanding of Creation was that when God finished his job of creating the heavens and the earth, he entered into a permanent Sabbath rest. He would not lift anything above his head or carry a load from one house to another.

Does God keep his own laws?

In another context, Matthew 12:9-14, Jesus healed another man on the Sabbath. Again, he was challenged. He provided this rationale:

“Who among you, if he had a sheep that fell into a pit on the Sabbath, wouldn’t take hold of it and lift it out? A person is worth far more than a sheep; so it is lawful to do what is good on the Sabbath.”
 
Works of mercy and necessity are both permitted and lawful according to Jesus. He ought to know because of who he is (John 1:1-3; Matthew 1:23). In the words of a television commercial, Jesus “knew a thing or two because he had seen a thing or two.”
 
God is finished with creation and rests from that labor. He continues his works of mercy and necessity in restoring the goodness of his original creation to those whose lives are damaged by our sinful world and our sinful choices.
 
One other thought to think is important here. In Matthew 6, Jesus teaches about prayer. In verse 6 he says, “pray to your Father who is in secret.” In verse 8 he says, “your Father knows the things you need before you ask him.” Then he teaches us how to pray in verse 9:
 
”Therefore, you should pray like this:
Our Father in heaven,
your name be honored as holy.
 
Jesus has an exclusive, one-of-a-kind relationship with God the Father. He invites us into that relationship as adopted sons and daughters. He includes us in the family. Jesus alone can truly, authentically say, “My Father,” (John 5:17). When we accept his invitation into God’s family, he gives us the privilege and blessing to say, “Our Father.” We come to God the Father with Jesus because of what Jesus did for us in his atoning work on the cross.
 
Our Father is so much more meaningful than a polite introduction to prayer. It is a declaration of relationship and an allegiance leading us to live and love like Jesus.

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I will live as our Father’s son. 

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Our Father, how awesome it is to come to you with this declaration. We belong to you. You welcome us into your presence. You receive us as your dearly loved children. You work your works of mercy and necessity in our lives. You are not finished with us yet. You love us just as we are. You love us so much that you continue shaping our lives into unique masterpieces of your own creation. How wonderful and humbling are these truths! Thank you. Amen.

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The New International Version (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011), Ge 15:6.