“Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, 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 execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man. Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.” (John 5:25-29)
John wanted his readers to understand that God the Father and God the Son are in unity with one another. The Son is the exact imprint of the Father. Or as Jesus explained it in John 10:30, “I and the Father are one.” This does not mean that they are identical individuals but rather one in essence and substance. The Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit possess the fullness of the divine nature or divinity. Therefore, what the Son does is what the Father does, and vice versa because what the Son is the Father and Spirit are.
This is what Jesus begins to teach the religious leaders of the Jews in John 5. He can heal on the Sabbath because He is the Lord of the Sabbath. What God the Father does is what God the Son does. There is no disharmony.
Jesus begins to explain this harmony between He and God the Father with the subject of raising the dead. God the Father raised the dead (Deuteronomy 32:39; I Kings 17:17-22). So too does God the Son (John 11). So too does God the Holy Spirit (John 3; Ephesians 2:1-10). However, even though the raising of the dead back to physical life is significant, the raising of the spiritually dead to spiritual life is even more so. This too is a work of the Father, through the Son and by the Holy Spirit.
A second harmony between God the Father and God the Son is in the realm of judgment. First, Jesus acknowledges the subject of judgment. The word judgment (κρίσις; krisis) literally means the authority to determine a person’s guilt or innocence (Matthew 5:21). Jesus said that the Father has given the right to judge the guilt or innocence of sinners to the Son: that is Jesus. This not only means the right to judge but also the authority to judge.
A third harmony between God the Father and God the Son is that both are the source of life. Physical, spiritual and eternal. Remember John 1:4 which says regarding the Word (Jesus Christ): “In him was life, and the life was the light of men.” Jesus will also say in John 14:6, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
Now it may be true at this point you are becoming overwhelmed by the theology contained in this passage. Bear with me because John continues to share significant truth regarding the person and work of Jesus Christ.
We should not forget the historical context in which John 5 takes place. I am referring to more than just the fact that Jesus healed an invalid man. The greater historical context is explained as follows:
“First-century Jews differed in their views of the Jews’ proper relationship to the Roman government, the place of oral tradition in Jewish practice, and other issues. Nevertheless, Pharisees, Sadducees, and other Jewish sects held some essential theological beliefs in common. All Jews affirmed that the Lord is the author of all life because of texts such as Genesis 2:7, which says He made Adam a “living creature” by breathing into him the breath of life. Another text, Psalm 90:2, proclaims that the God of Israel is “from everlasting to everlasting.” Only He has the power of life in Himself. He is inherently alive and is incapable, in His divine nature, of death. He has always been and ever will be. As life itself, He grants life to those whom He will.”
Therefore, when Jesus proclaimed to the Jewish religious leaders that He possessed life in and of Himself, He was proclaiming to them once again that He was God. Consider what Saint Augustine has to say about the matter. He writes, “The Father has life in himself, which none gave him, while the Son has life in himself which the Father gave him.” The life in Himself that the Father possesses is no different from the life in Himself that the Son possesses, but this life is a gift from Father to Son, not from Son to Father. Nevertheless, both Father and Son have always existed.”
Additionally, Jesus referred to Himself as the Son of Man, which is a direct reference to Daniel 7 and once again that He was God. Jesus told His audience not to be astonished or amazed at this truth but rather consider that one day soon Jesus will raise the dead. John 5:29 should not be understood as teaching works/based salvation by the sinner. Rather, Jesus was indicating that a person’s works identify whether they have a new nature or not.
Dr. John MacArthur writes, “The theme of these verses is resurrection. Jesus related that all men, saved and unsaved, will be literally and physically resurrected from the dead. However, only the saved experience a spiritual (“born again”), as well as physical, resurrection unto eternal life. The unsaved will be resurrected unto judgment and eternal punishment through separation from God (i.e., the second death; cf. Rev. 20:6, 14; 21:8). These verses also constitute proof of the deity of Jesus Christ since the Son has resurrection power (John 5:25–26), and the Father has granted him the status of Judge of all mankind (v. 27).”
This section, and the one’s to follow, clearly indicate that Jesus identified Himself to many people that He was God in the flesh. Emmanuel. Do you confess Jesus Christ as God? I John 4:1-3 says, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already.”
Soli deo Gloria!