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Honoring the Son – John 5:16-23

This post is part of an ongoing series in the study of John we are doing during January. Subscribe to the blog for daily updates in the Bible Study posts. Subscribe to the podcasts to hear our discussion of the book of John throughout this month. Join us in your daily devotions as we travel through this fascinating account of the life of Christ.

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For this reason the Jews persecuted Jesus, and sought to kill Him, because He had done these things on the Sabbath. But Jesus answered them, “My Father has been working until now, and I have been working.” 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.  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. For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself does; and He will show Him greater works than these, that you may marvel. For as the Father raises the dead and gives life to them, even so the Son gives life to whom He will. For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son, that all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him. John 5:16-23 (NKJV)

The apex of all we can see, know, understand, or experience rests in the Son of God. When philosophers and poets ask, “What is the meaning of life?” The answer is Christ. Unraveling the mystery of Christ is the nature of human life.

This is what Paul describes in Philippians:

I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith. I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead! Philippians 3:7-11 (NLT)

Examinations on the historical Jesus are all well and good, but they miss the point. The Son of God transcends human history. He is bigger than that. Just as John 1 explains how the Word was with God and was God, Jesus repeats here that all things of the Son are reflections of the Father. The Son can do nothing except what He sees the Father doing. They are intimately and directly linked together. That is not a limitation on the Son because the Father shows the Son everything.

These same themes are repeated elsewhere in the New Testament.

And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Matthew 28:18 (NKJV)

who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, angels and authorities and powers having been made subject to Him. 1 Peter 3:22 (NKJV)

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence. Colossians 1:15-18 (NKJV)

Jesus, the Son of God, is high and lifted above all else. That is how God intended Him to be perceived, and that is how we are designed to understand. This is the position of honor that we should honor the Son of God with.

Judgment

Our posture towards His Son defines our judgment before God. Jesus makes that explicit in the final verses of this passage in John. We cannot say we honor God but then fail to honor Christ.

For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son, that all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.

This is the defining characteristic of the Christian faith that distinguishes it from all other religions – honoring Christ, the Son of God. There are no half measures in the statements of Jesus here. We either honor the Son, or we don’t. Many faiths claim to honor God but fail to honor the Son. Based upon these words from Christ, that places them on the wrong side of the design of God.

Considerations

  • What does honoring the Son of God look like in my life?
  • Am I on the right side of this equation where God has based life and judgment in the hands of Christ?
  • How can I grow in my personal discovery of Christ?

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JB Shreve

JB Shreve is the host of the JB Shreve podcast and the End of History podcast channels. He is the author of multiple books.

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