Jesus’ Life and Ministry
Answering His Accusers
IT IS the Sabbath. Jesus heals a man who has been sick for 38 years. But the Jewish religious leaders accuse him of breaking the Sabbath. Jesus answers: “My Father has kept working until now, and I keep working.”
Despite the claim of the Pharisees, Jesus’ work is not of the type forbidden by Sabbath law. His work of preaching and healing is an assignment from God, and in imitation of God’s example, he keeps on doing it daily. However, his answer makes the Jews even angrier than they were before, and they seek to kill him. Why?
It is because now they not only believe that Jesus is breaking the Sabbath but consider his claim of being God’s personal Son to be blasphemy. However, Jesus is unafraid and answers them further regarding his favored relationship with God. “The Father has affection for the Son,” he says, “and shows him all the things he himself does.”
“Just as the Father raises the dead up,” Jesus continues, “so the Son also makes those alive whom he wants to.” Indeed, the Son is already raising the dead in a spiritual way! “He that hears my word and believes him that sent me,” Jesus says, “has passed over from death to life.” Yes, he continues: “The hour is coming, and it is now, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who have given heed will live.”
Although up to this time, there is no record that Jesus has literally raised anyone from the dead, he tells his accusers that such a literal resurrection of the dead will occur. “Do not marvel at this,” he says, “because the hour is coming in which all those in the memorial tombs will hear his voice and come out.”
As yet, Jesus has evidently never publicly described his vital role in God’s purpose in such a distinct and definite way. But Jesus’ accusers have more than his own witness about these things. “You have dispatched men to John,” Jesus reminds them, “and he has borne witness to the truth.”
Just two years before, John the Baptizer told these Jewish religious leaders about the One coming after him. Reminding them of their once high regard for the now imprisoned John, Jesus says: “You for a short time were willing to rejoice greatly in his light.” Jesus recalls this to their minds in hopes of helping, yes, saving, them. Yet he does not depend on the witness of John.
“The works themselves that I am doing [including the miracle he just performed] bear witness about me that the Father dispatched me.” But besides that, Jesus continues: “The Father who sent me has himself borne witness about me.” God bore witness about Jesus, for instance, at his baptism, saying: “This is my Son, the beloved.”
Really, Jesus’ accusers have no excuse for rejecting him. The very Scriptures they claim to be searching testify about him! “If you believed Moses you would believe me,” Jesus concludes, “for that one wrote about me. But if you do not believe the writings of that one, how will you believe my sayings?” John 5:17-47; 1:19-27; Matthew 3:17.
◆ Why is Jesus’ work not in violation of the Sabbath?
◆ How does Jesus describe his vital role in God’s purpose?
◆ To prove that he is God’s Son, to whose witness does Jesus point?