As we learned in the previous post, Jesus not only disobeyed the law, he said that could do so because he is God. Thus he put himself in a very precarious position. Some of the most powerful leaders in the land want to kill him on what they believe are justifiable grounds. What will Jesus do? Get out of their fast? Flee? Hide? Nope. He dives in deeper. Look at John 5, verses 19-23.
“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’.”
Do you see how Jesus dives in deeper? He clarifies even further that he and the Father are one. Jesus is the Son, and God the Father is the Father. Jesus describes himself as an obedient son, which he was. He says, “You’ve seen the miracles I’ve done. Well, you’re about to see even greater things. You’re going to see the dead raised to life.”
In verse 21, it is uncertain what Jesus was referring to when he says, “The Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it.” There is no doubt that Jesus is the giver of life. In chapter 11, he will raise his friend Lazarus from the dead. In chapter 20, Jesus himself will rise from the dead. So, his statement certainly relates to near-future resurrections.
But there is also something interesting Jesus said in chapter 10, verse 10, that helps us understand the multi-layered meaning of Jesus’ phrase, “The Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it. In John 10:10, Jesus says, “I have come they might have life and life abundantly.”
In John 10:10, Jesus is not talking about raising dead people to life. He is also not talking about eternal life. He’ll get to eternal life here in chapter 5 in just a moment. But in chapter 5, verse 21 and in chapter 10, verse 10, when Jesus says that he is the bringer of life, it also includes a kind of flourishing life now, on earth, before we die. It is a life where injustice in society and culture is rectified. It is a life where people experience reconciliation. It is a life where people are filled with the Spirit, so the Fruit of the Spirit is growing in us, and flowing from us in ever-increasing quantity and quality. Imagine that. A life of such goodness, gentleness, peace, joy, love, patience and self-control.
Jesus is the bringer of life. Interestingly, this life-giving capacity of Jesus is in direct conflict to the legalistic, binding nature of the religious leaders. They said to the man Jesus healed, “You may not carry your mat on the Sabbath!” By imposing laws like that, they have overturned the heart of the sabbath. Legalism is a deceptive monster. Instead of freeing us to be holy, a legalistic spirituality leads us to be law-breakers. Jesus comes to that and says, “No, I have come to give you life that is real life, the freedom to truly live.”
So how does this relate to eternal life? We’ll find out in the next post.