Jesus gave them this answer: “I tell you the truth, 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, to your amazement he will show him even greater things than these. 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. 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. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him.
”I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life. 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. For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son to have life in himself. And he has given him authority to judge because he is the Son of Man.
“Do not be amazed at this, 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, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned. By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.”
John 5:19-30 (NIV)
The picture most people seem to have of Jesus these days is that He was just a very special man. He taught people, He outsmarted the Pharisees and teachers of the Law, He prayed a lot, and He did miracles. But this picture falls desperately short of the reality as Jesus taught it and lived it out.
Jesus was and is God. It is pretty much that simple. Some people balk at this because they refuse to accept the reality of God – obviously if you don’t believe that God exists, it’s silly to believe that a person could be God. Some others balk because “if Jesus was God, who was He praying to? Himself?” And I will admit that it seems a little bit bizarre to have God praying to God. And retreating into our theology of the Trinity, the three-person God of the Bible doesn’t usually help these people to make better sense of the whole thing, because our best theologians usually come up short themselves trying to put the concept of the Trinity into easily understandable human language.
But in this set of verses Jesus directly addresses the issue of how the Trinity actually works. Jesus starts out by telling us that “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.” What He is pointing to here, is an interrelatedness of person that we can hardly fathom – an interrelatedness so profound that two individuals actually act as one. When the Father speaks a word, the Son speaks it with Him; when the Father pronounces judgment, the Son’s voice speaks at the same moment; when the Father has a mission at a well in Samaria, the Son is right there at the moment that the Father acts. And this is not a case of the Father giving the Son an order and the Son smartly saluting and carrying it out. This is actually more like one brain with two bodies that move in perfect synchronization. It is for this reason that Jesus can claim that He is not simply telling the people what God wants them to hear, but that He is actually speaking the Father’s words themselves. Two persons so interrelated that they move and act and speak as one.
Later on, Jesus tells His disciples about the Holy Spirit, the third person in this interrelated organism that they will be able to experience for themselves when He comes to live in them. And, at that point, the disciples themselves will be able to be led and guided and given the words of God to say as the Spirit of God within them moves them in accordance with His will.
And this interrelatedness extends even as far as Jesus’ ability to give life to those who are dead, spiritually or physically. Since God the Father has life in Him, God the Son also has life in Him. Since God the Father can give life to whomever He wants, the Son can, too. And, of course, the greatest life-giving miracle of all will occur on that day when the Father-Son-Spirit calls an end to all time, and raises to life all of those who have ever died on the planet, so that they can be given their appropriate eternal reward or punishment. Imagine the scene as graves burst open and long-decomposed bodies from the land and the sea reassemble themselves to stand before the Son of God in His majesty so that He can deliver to them His verdict as the Judge of the universe.
Jesus proved Who He was over and over again through the miracles that He did: healings, resurrections, controlling the weather. He did it by the words that He spoke. And He did it through His greatest miracle of all, orchestrating His own resurrection from the dead! Jesus was and still is God. But whether we are willing to believe that or not, at the end of all things, every one of us will hear the voice of Jesus calling us back to life, and then stand before Him as Judge of the world.