My Father and I Have Been Working
16 For this reason the Jews persecuted Jesus, and sought to kill Him, because He had done these things on the Sabbath. 17 But Jesus answered them, “My Father has been working until now, and I have been working,”
18 Therefore the Jews sought all the more to kill Him, because He not only broke the sabbath, but also said that God was His father, making Himself equal with God. 19 Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what he sees the Father do; for whatever he does, the Son also does in like manner.”
Let’s review, for review is always good and puts things in perspective. Christ’s Judean ministry was coming to a close. Excluding his trip through Samaria, Jesus had turned the water into wine, cleansed the temple, spoken with Nicodemus and now healed a man beside the pool of Bethesda. These are the events that were recorded, but the implication is that he performed many miracles and spent much time in teaching and preaching.
There is also the testimony of John the Baptizer that Jesus was the promised Messiah. Yet it was the healing of the crippled man lying beside the pool of Bethesda that caused great concern with the Jewish leaders.
Why all this concern? Should they not rejoice, along with the man that had been healed? But instead of rejoicing they hauled Jesus before the Sanhedrin wanting to know first why Jesus performed work on the Sabbath, and then later in their discourse, by whose authority was Jesus able to call himself an equal with God.
The leaders of the nation sought to counteract Jesus undeniably great influence over the people. So they had spies to watch him in an attempt to build a case against Jesus so they could put Him to death. They made a public proclamation warning the nation against Him. They did all this in full knowledge that their opposition to Him was without cause and so they became even more bitter toward Him.
From this point forward, they began laying plans on how they might take His life. This they succeeded in carrying out two years later at the Passover of CE (AD) 31.
Yet by the time they in CE 29, hauled Jesus before the Sanhedrin they had ample evidence that Jesus was indeed the Messiah. They all knew the vision of Zacharias (Luke 1:5-20) of the announcement to the Shepherds and even of the coming of the wise men. They also remembered His visit to the temple when he was 12 years old. It was at that time before the religious leaders that Jesus had first declared that He must be about his Fathers business. And as mentioned earlier, they all had the witness of John the Baptizer that Jesus was indeed the Christ, the Messiah. The Pharisees being learned men of all the scriptures also new of the many prophecies concerning the Messiah, it was impossible for them to deny that Jesus was He.
Strangely the Jews did not punish the man for carrying his bed on the Sabbath, beyond censuring him publicly. But Jesus, the author of the miracle they sought to kill. They sough to kill because he had healed the man, but also because he had commanded the man to break the Sabbath by carrying his bed.
While it was, by Jewish law, ok for a person to treat a man who was acutely sick on the sabbath, the treating of a chronic case such this crippled man was actually forbidden.
Their man-made commentaries actually read as such. “Is a person allowed to heal on the Sabbath? Our Masters have taught: Mortal danger overrides the Sabbath; but if it is doubtful whether he (the sick person) will regain health or not, one should not override the Sabbath (on their account).
Jesus’ choice in the present instances of a man who had been ill for 38 years seems to have been made purposely to demonstrate the fallacy of such Jewish legal restrictions and to show that showing mercy and love to another who is suffering is above the keeping of the commandment to Remember the Sabbath Day.
Although our work for our own gain (income or prophet in our chosen occupation) should be set aside on the Sabbath, our focus on the Sabbath should now become concern for others who are not in a position to help themselves. This means to help them physically, emotionally and spiritually. All this is in keeping with the restoration God wanted the Sabbath to be for all mankind. The Sabbath should not only be a day for worship, but what better way to worship God, than by restoring others to a relationship with Christ.
So Christ made the point of telling the Sanhedrin and all present that quite literally, “All heaven is working until now, on every day of the week including the Sabbath to restore mankind to their rightful place with God. Jesus assured His listeners that God, who had created the world, was still actively working in their midst, even on the Sabbath day.”
Jesus sought to dispel the belief in some circles of Judaism that made God so distant from the world that He had little contact with it. Even more, Jesus’ words were an assertion that His own words as revealed in the miracle of healing He had just performed were indeed the work of God.
Jesus emphasized the role of the Father, but then emphatically stated “and I” which Christ used to state that He and the Father are equals
A note before we continue this thought in our next post. During the nearly 400 years that is known as the intertestamental period, Jewish literature began to refer to God as “The Father of the Jews”. Therefore, when Jesus spoke of the Father, it was not entirely foreign to the Jewish leaders thought. By Jesus calling God in heaven His Father, he was acknowledging the teachings of the Jews regarding God as the Jew’s Father, but He went a step further by then stating equality with God, the Father of the Jews.
But it was not calling God the Father that they now accused Jesus of blasphemy, but because he claimed equality with God the Father.
Jesus responds by stating, “As my Father has been working for the salvation of all mankind, I too have been working for the assure the same salvation for all.”
John the disciple understood this to be the case and this why he started out his gospel with “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Paul in Philippians 2:5-7 understood this concept as well. We will start in verse 5. “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7 But made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of bondservant and coming in the likeness of men.”
It would be hard to miss the fact that Christ was indeed the Messiah, yet stubborn pride kept them from accepting Him.
From time to time, do we not suffer from that same stubborn pride. So today the question before us is this. “Is our pride such that it will keep us from experiencing salvation as the Jews of old? “