Summary: Hear what Jesus confesses about Himself
19 Therefore Jesus answered and was saying to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner. 20 “For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself is doing; and the Father will show Him greater works than these, so that you will marvel.
When I wrote a sermon on the first eighteen verses of John 5, about the healing of the man at the pool of Bethesda, my assertion was that Jesus, while acting with the divine mercy and compassion that characterize our Lord, was nevertheless deliberately instigating one more confrontation with the religious elite.
The work the Father gave Him to do, ultimately, was to go to the cross of Calvary and shed His blood and die as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Jesus said of Himself that the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve and to give His life a ransom for many.
This was His anointed ministry to the world, and Jesus choreographed the whole thing. From the day angels declared to astonished shepherds that in Bethlehem had been born for them a Savior which was Christ the Lord, Jesus was on the road that would end at the crest of Golgotha and a Roman cross.
And from the day He came down to the Jordan River to be baptized by John, He was in control of every meeting, every circumstance, every conversation.
Nothing surprised Jesus, nothing frustrated Him, nothing caught Him unprepared, and while evil men met in dark corners to plot His murder, it was Jesus Himself who had the authority to lay His life down of His own accord, and the authority to take it up again,
Therefore, if anyone would balk at my saying Jesus deliberately instigated this new confrontation with the hypocritical Pharisees, you only need go on and read the rest of this chapter and the words of Jesus’ discourse to them and you will see that in response to their accusation that Jesus broke the Sabbath and spoke blasphemy by calling God His Father, making Himself equal with God, Jesus answers them with a ‘confession’, so to speak; not that He was wrong in making this claim, but that what He has said and what they are accusing Him of claiming falsely, is absolute truth. He is Lord of the Sabbath, Jesus is the Son of God, equal with the Father, and this is what He will openly establish for them in these verses we study today.
They wanted to kill Him. Now, if Jesus was just a teacher, a Rabbi, and a good and honest man but nothing more, His proper response to them would have been to quickly say, ‘No, no! Please don’t misunderstand. I am not the Messiah, I’m just a teacher like John the Baptist and I make no claims to deity!’
Instead, He picks up on what from them constitutes an accusation, and says ‘What you say about Me is true, and here is the complete truth about Me and My relationship with the Father and what this means for those who believe and for those who reject.
In the recent past I have explained Jesus’ use of the word that gets translated, ‘truly’ and the significance of the repetition of it. If you have been a student of the Bible for any length of time you should have heard this at least once or twice. So I don’t want to rehash it all for you here in detail. Just be reminded that it translates to the word we use frequently at the end of our prayers, ‘amen’, and as used by Jesus and other teachers of that culture it was a very strong word, given added strength by its repetition.
So when He began a sentence with ‘Truly, truly, I say to you’, it was tantamount to saying ‘listen closely and understand because this is of great and unchanging significance for you’.
John Wayne would have said, “Listen, and listen tight, Pilgrim”. That might be helpful to you who are fans of the Duke; but Bible commentator Roger Fredrikson made a statement that should drive home the import of this term, when he paraphrases it ‘most assuredly’, and says, “These are life and death words, for the destiny of those who listen hangs on how they hear and respond.” THE COMMUNICATOR’S COMMENTARY, John, R.L. Fredrikson, Word Inc, 1985 pg 117
And could I just toss in a brief word of application here? When we pray I think across the board as modern day Christians we use the word ‘amen’ more as a punctuation than a word with meaning. We end with “in Jesus’ name, amen”, and I doubt that very many of us realize what a solemn oath we utter every time we say it.