Today’s full reading is John 5:17-33
“The Father judges no one, but has given all judgement to the Son, that all may honour the Son, just as they honour the Father. Whoever does not honour the Son does not honour the Father who sent him.”
The Father is mentioned three times in this short verse and each one contains some glorious truth about who he is and what he’s like.
First of all. Think for a moment about how arrogant Jesus must have sounded when he first spoke these words: …that all may honour the Son… whoever does not honour the Son, does not honour the Father… when he mentions ‘the Son’ he’s talking about himself. Here is Jesus, a poor, wandering (often homeless), preacher from Galilee declaring that unless people honour him they’re not really honouring the Father. How can a mere man make a statement like this? Rather, I should ask, how could a man with the character of Jesus make a statement like this? We’re all familiar with mad men, or foolish men or deluded men making such claims but Jesus doesn’t fit into any of those descriptions. From the record of Jesus’ character revealed in the New Testament he was far from cruel, arrogant or deluded by visions of self-grandeur. Yet here he is making an outrageous claim to grandeur. Whatever are we to make of that?
I’ll leave that question hanging for the day, for you to consider. Let’s move on to consider the nature of the Father revealed in these words:
Jesus’ words reveal a Father who:
- Is generous — ‘has given all judgement to the Son’.
- Wants the Son to be prized and appreciated — ‘that all may honour the Son’.
- Entrusts his Son with genuine responsibility — ‘has given all judgement to the Son’.
- Desires to share his honour with his Son — ‘whoever does not honour the Son…’.
- Sends the Son; there is a difference of roles within the Trinity being shown here — ‘has given…’.
The Father, then, is not controlling and cruel. He has relinquished, given up his right to or his role in, pronouncing decisive judgement over people. He has instead entrusted this to his son. Why? Is it because he can’t do it as well as Jesus can? No, not likely. Is it because his judgement wouldn’t be as accurate as Jesus’? No.
Jesus gives us the reason for it when he says that the Father wants the object of his delight (the Son) to also be the object of other’s delight and the way the Father goes about it (we’re told in these verses) is by making the Son the judge who judges over all the Earth.
I often think of judges and judging as being a negative thing but God doesn’t. The reason I do is probably due to both our society’s ‘anything goes’ attitude and also the inaccurate and impurely motivated judgements I’m too familiar with making. I judge others out of bad heart a lot of the time. But true righteous judgement isn’t a bad thing, in fact it’s very good.
Imagine being a Jew living in the first century AD. As a people they’re occupied by a foreign military, forced to pay extortionate taxes and have vivid memories of recent cruelty inflicted against their countryman and family members. For them judgement means the end of all this. Judgement means justice. It means cruelty gets punished and fairness gets established.
This beautiful and praiseworthy role (of being the one to bring about justice) the Father has given over to his Son. One day the world will marvel and delight in the good judgement of the Son of God. When this happens Jesus will be all anyone will talk about and in the celebration of it all we’ll perhaps remember this verse and marvel: the Father could have had all this honour and merrymaking directed at himself, but he’s given it to his Son. What a Father is he! The Father seeks his pleasure in his Son. How good, how glorious, how lovely is he!
Thank you Father that you are good. Thank you that you are life giving, that you share your glory with your Son. Thank you that you are the God of justice and will one day right every wrong. Today I choose to bow my knee to you, to trust you with my life. I know you can be trusted, now help me to do just that today. Amen.