Summary: In verses 17–24 Jesus makes five unmistakable claims to full equality with the Father: He is equal with the Father 1) in His person (John 5:17–18), 2) in His works (John 5:19–20), 3) in His sovereign power (John 5:21), 4) in His judgment (John 5:22), and

In a decision being mostly met with a shrug, the Canadian Museum of Civilization is putting the “Christ” back in history. The museum, like many institutions that study history, some time ago dropped BC (for “before Christ”) and AD (for “anno Domini,” the Latin phrase for “in the year of the Lord”) in describing dates. Instead, it has used CE (for “common era”) and BCE (before the common era). But no more. According to a new writing guide from the museum’s administration: “It is now our style to use the Christian calendar abbreviations BC and AD, if necessary, to designate years,”. An official at the museum — which will soon be rebranded the Canadian Museum of History — said Tuesday there’s nothing religious about the change. “There was a decision that we would be using those terms in documents intended for the public because it seemed to be a better, more understood term,” Patricia Lynch told the Ottawa Citizen. “And then for academic and scholarly stuff, we’ll be continuing to use CE and BCE. It has nothing to do with the Christian calendar. It has more to do with the fact that it’s considered common usage.” Reuven Bulka, a prominent Ottawa rabbi and former co-president of the Canadian Jewish Congress, said he prefers BCE because it is more inclusive, but he can live with the change. “I for the life of me don’t understand why anyone would have any problem with [BCE], especially in an inclusive society. But … I don’t see it as an assault on anyone.” “To me the more important issue is: What was the intention of this? … Not one more person is going to become either Jewish or Christian because of it. It’s just a question of: What message does it send?” (

In John 5 Jesus wanted to send a message directly to those who would so quickly dismiss Him as a simple good teacher or wonder worker. He did this by hitting the religious right where they live. The Jews misinterpreted the purpose of the Sabbath day, and imposed many religious restrictions. Jesus sought to directly break their religious rules and in doing so, showed how He was the Lord of the Sabbath, or in other words, God Himself.

Many misunderstand the nature of this life in an effort to be a self-defined good person. They create or adopt religious practices that they think help them be good. What this approach to life forgets is how as a united humanity we all fall radically short of God’s goodness, and it is this gap that cripples us. Like the crippled man at by the pool of Bethesda for 38 years, we have no way to fix our situation. All the religiousity around this crippled man could not help him. Only Jesus can take us in our present crippled state, and make us whole.

This section affirming our Lord’s deity flows directly from the confrontation that arose when Jesus healed a crippled man on the Sabbath (vv. 1–16). The Lord did not violate the Old Testament Sabbath regulations, but rather the rabbinic additions to those regulations. Yet He did not defend Himself by pointing out the distinction between God’s Law and man’s extraneous tradition. Instead, He responded in a far more radical way—He maintained that He was equal with God and thus had the right to do whatever He wanted on the Sabbath. The result is one of the most profound Christological discourses in all of Scripture. In verses 17–24 Jesus makes five unmistakable claims to full equality with the Father: He is equal with the Father 1) in His person (John 5:17–18), 2) in His works (John 5:19–20), 3) in His sovereign power (John 5:21), 4) in His judgment (John 5:22), and 5) in the honor due Him (John 5:23-24).

1) Jesus is Equal with the Father in His Person (John 5:17–18)

John 5:17-18 [17]But Jesus answered them, "My Father is working until now, and I am working." [18]This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God. (ESV)

When this account starts with the statement that Jesus answered them, the verb translated as “answered” is exceedingly rare. It is found only in the context of trials and courtrooms, when a formal defense is given against charges that are made. So John is telling us that Jesus was not simply answering a question. He was giving His legal defense before the authorities who were accusing Him of things they deemed worthy of death (Sproul, R. C. (2009). John. St. Andrew's Expositional Commentary (98). Lake Mary, FL: Reformation Trust Publishing.).

The Charges start in the context of the Sabbath. The Sabbath observance was at the heart of Jewish worship in Jesus’ day. The Lord’s reply to those who challenged Him for violating it (5:16). Jesus said, not “our Father,” but “my Father.” The Jews caught that at once. They knew he was not claiming to be a son of the Father in the same sense as all believers are, but was asserting divine Sonship (Franzmann, W. H. (1998). Bible history commentary: New Testament (electronic ed.) (128–129). Milwaukee, WI: WELS Board for Parish Education.)

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