Why Our Relationship With God May Not Be What We Thought It Was

March 9, 2017

John 5:16-23

16 So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jewish leaders began to persecute him. 17 In his defense Jesus said to them, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working.” 18 For this reason they tried all the more to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.

19 Jesus gave them this answer: “Very truly I tell you, 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. 20 For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, and he will show him even greater works than these, so that you will be amazed. 21 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. 22 Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, 23 that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him.

CONSIDER THIS

Throughout this Gospel, John will bring us on the inside of sidebars like we see in today’s text. In response to the persecution of the religious leaders about Sabbath breaking, Jesus   reveals a much bigger picture of reality. This vision will continue to unfold as the Gospel progresses.

Jesus gave them this answer: “Very truly I tell you, 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.

Jesus here reveals something profoundly new about the nature of God to these paragons of monotheism (One God). Within the oneness of God are three persons: the Father, the Son (both explicitly noted here) and the Holy Spirit (referenced throughout). To behold one is to witness all. “See what I do,” says Jesus, “and you see what my Father is doing.”

We can’t come down too hard on these Pharisees. After all, the bedrock foundation of their understanding of God was revealed to them in the opening words of the Shema, which says, “Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one.” Deuteronomy 6:4. A God who is one and yet two, much less three persons, would have been incomprehensible. It would likely have the same effect if someone came to us claiming to be the fourth person of the quadrenity today.

For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, and he will show him even greater works than these, so that you will be amazed.

This is why John’s Gospel, with its seven I AM statements and seven signs, is such a magisterial proclamation and demonstration of the identity of Jesus as the complete revelation of the nature of God. The bottom line breaking news here: God is relationship. God is One God in Three Persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit and is made manifest and known in all of their glorious interrelationships.

To say we have a relationship with God is not to say we have a relationship with the Father and a relationship with the Son and a relationship with the Holy Spirit as though there were three relationships. Neither is it to say we have relationship with this conglomerate of divine persons. To be in relationship with God, means we are brought on the inside of the very relationship of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Taking a sneak peak of what’s coming, note these words from Jesus prayer in John 17: My prayer, . . . , is that all of them would be one, Father, just as I am in you and you are in me. May they also be in us so the world will believe you have sent me (vv.20-21).

It’s one thing to become friends with another person. It’s quite another to be brought into the inside of their friendships with others—into their community. This is the essence of the gift of our relationship with God. We are born again (i.e. baptized), by the power of the Holy Spirit, into the family of God. From there we grow up into the grace of God, discipled by Jesus to abide in the very life of God (the bond of Father, Son and Holy Spirit), whose name and nature is love.

Our calling is to do nothing by ourselves but only what we see Jesus doing, which is in point of fact, what the Father is doing.

The Gospel of John is like the ocean. We are edging into the deep end.

THE PRAYER

Abba Father, thank you for your son, Jesus, who is the image of God in human flesh. We thank you for the way he brings into his relationship with you. Come Holy Spirit and open our eyes to the wonders of the Godhead and bring us deeper into this fellowship. We pray in Jesus name. Amen.

THE QUESTIONS

1. What do you think of this statement from today’s reflection, “God is relationship.”

2. What difference does it make to understand our relationship with God as being brought into the relationships of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, rather than simply having a relationship?

3. What might it look like for us to behold the things Jesus is doing in this Gospel and then to do such things ourselves? Could it even be possible?

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J.D. Walt, is a Bond Slave of the Lord Jesus Christ. jd.walt@seedbed.com.

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