“Afterward Jesus found him in the temple, and said to him, ‘Behold, you have become well; do not sin anymore, so that nothing worse may befall you.’ The man went away, and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well. And for this reason the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because He was doing these things on the Sabbath. But He answered them, ‘My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working. For this cause therefore the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because He not only was breaking the Sabbath, but also was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God. Jesus therefore 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. For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself is doing; and greater works than these will He show Him, that you may marvel. For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son also gives life to whom He wishes. For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son, in order that all may honor the Son, even as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him. Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life. Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear shall live. For just as the Father has life in Himself, even so He gave to the Son also to have life in Himself; and He gave Him authority to execute judgment, because He is the Son of Man. Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs shall hear His voice, and shall come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment.'”
This may be the most difficult portion of Scripture to digest. The wheels in Ezekiel and the number 666 (properly six hundred, sixty-six) are much easier to explain than this section in John. I absolutely believe that Jesus has set up a trap for those doggedly pursuing him (persecution) by healing the man 38 years in sickness on the Sabbath and subsequently having him walk with a “load.” Yet once the trap has been sprung, Jesus seems to contradict his own message.
He tells the healed man, “Behold, you have become well; do not sin anymore, so that nothing worse may befall you.” But elsewhere in John we read; “And as He passed by, He saw a man blind from birth. And His disciples asked Him, saying, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he should be born blind?’ Jesus answered, ‘It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was in order that the works of God might be displayed in him.'”
Jesus says to the people doggedly pursuing him, “For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son, in order that all may honor the Son, even as they honor the Father.” Yet in John Jesus also says, “For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through Him.” And, “You people judge according to the flesh; I am not judging anyone.”
Even within today’s text, Jesus seems to contradict himself; “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life.” But also, “an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs shall hear His voice, and shall come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment.”
I truly am an optimist but I also realize that we live in a fallen world. I absolutely believe that the world is much better now than it was in the days of Noah, or even Jesus. The Pax Romana was only peace for the Roman empire and not her subjects, and that, relative. How many Caesars and senators were not assassinated or forced to suicide? But I digress. I believe that the world is moving in the right direction, overall but ebbs and flows exists. In America, in 2020, we’re at the lowest of tides. We want to blame the homosexual community, LGBTQ types, communists, antifa, Democrats, the media but never the prophecy pundits or mega-church pastors. What greater indictment agaists humongous houses of worship than Covid19? Don’t say it’s Satan if you believe in God’s sovereignty. Sinners are supposed to sin, awaiting you to tell them the true gospel, then they either transform towards godliness or remain in sin. But pastors and preachers, theologians and teachers should be different, their minds having allegedly been changed. I am an optimist but I wonder how many pastors could thoroughly explain, rather than explain away, the seemingly contradictory statements, made by Jesus, in John’s gospel account? There is an enormous difference between explaining something and explaining it away.
I should stop writing and start a survey, asking everyone to bring this up to their respective pastors. I would love to hear Joel Osteen’s take on this discourse, although it would force him to read more than one verse. I know good pastors who would stumble over this– imagine what the wolves in sheep’s clothing would say. If good pastors would struggle with today’s text, what are we to do?
Context, context, context! Don’t let modes, models or precarious presuppositions dictate definitions. Let the Bible interpret itself and see the sublime string.
Consider the context, aspirations of the author to his audience, jive with the genre, explore examples using exegesis and not eisegesis, and then divide rightly. CAGED: Context, Aspirations of Author, Genre, Examples and Divide rightly.
To be honest, I was never the biggest fan of “divide rightly ” but it made the acronym work well and it is Scripture, albeit the King James version. It’s familiar to us, for the most part, therefore generally speaking, it does its intent. However, is “divide” the best word to use when we’re actually compiling? Yes, today’s text is absolute proof. There truly are divisions in Scripture, the multiple genres are evidence of this. We don’t follow what Job’s incompetent cronies had to say as doctrine, even though it is Scripture.
I always have to remind myself to keep it simple, stupid. Presuppositions are not necessarily wrong, sometimes they are the backbone of basic beliefs. The presupposition that the Bible doesn’t contradict itself is an essential presupposition when reading the word of God. Therefore if a contradiction is found, it’s in the eye of the beholder and not the mind of the author. Nevertheless, while this presupposition is a lynchpin of a presupposition, generally speaking, the Bible does contain contradictions– it’s full of them.
This is a horrible place to begin a new paragraph in our current cultural climate. My words could be easily misconstrued and ripped out of context in our current cultural climate of soundbites, Twitter and misleading, clickbait headlines. God doesn’t contradict himself in who he is and his revelation to the world but much of the Bible is a historical narrative, made up of contradictory people. Abraham contradicted himself, Jacob contradicted himself as did David, Peter and all of the thousands of people named in the Bible, especially the friends of Job and the Pharisees. God doesn’t contradict nor does he change but he does change us and sometimes he relents and removes rules or changes boundaries but only in the context of our growth; he never changes, and apparantly, never stops working. I agree though, a bit, with the dispensationalists and certainly the progressive-covenant theologians, that while never changing himself, he does reveal himself to us differently at different times. He also has chosen different places of worship, and when and how.
Case in point is the temple itself. Before that was the tabernacle and in John four we read that when Jesus came, neither in Samaria’s mountain nor in Jerusalem were people to worship but in Spirit and truth. Is what Jesus said in today’s text truth? The correct presupposition is that it is, otherwise we cannot trust anything Jesus said or did. Therefor it is our minds that need to understand that which Jesus was saying and to whom and why? It always comes back to considering the context.
What is the context? Historically it is in the reign of Tiberius Caesar in occupied, but not incredibly occupied, concerning what was coming, Jerusalem. Jesus had just healed a man 38 years sick, during an obligatory feast, probably the Passover but I can’t prove it, on the Sabbath, right outside the gates to Jerusalem. The dusty streets are bustling with people like Main Street, USA during Christmas in the 1950’s. It was like Time Square on New Year’s eve, with jubilant people awaiting the year to come whith caution and inhibitions thrown to the wind as the champagne flows. Or like Manhattan during Thanksgiving, with the crowds scrunched up in the streets to witness the festivities and floats on the parade route. I hope you don’t believe any of this because even the Hajj doesn’t come close to giving us a picture of the Passover in those days.
The festivals, whether Passover or not, were obligatory for every able-bodied man, not just once in one’s life like the Hajj, but year to year. Woman and children also attended, making the streets all but impassable. Smoke which constantly rose from the alter, mixed with the smell of blood from the hundreds of thousands of sacrifices. Rome also made her presence known. Thousands of Roman soldiers would have been lining the streets. The point being that it was very crowded in Jerusalem on this high, Sabbath day. The continuing context bears witness.
“After these things there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.” We also read that after Jesus healed the man 38 years in sickness, “he who was healed did not know who it was; for Jesus had slipped away while there was a crowd in that place.” The original Greek will give us some help in understanding the size of the crowd. Jesus didn’t slip away supernaturally, this time, but it was intentional and easily done due to the massive number of people.
Noun – Genitive Masculine SINGULAR From a derivative of echo; a throng; by implication, the rabble; by extension, a class of people; figuratively, a riot. -Strong’s 3793
The size of the crowd is important because it points out how doggedly dogmatic the “Jews” were. Remember that John often generalizes but more often uses the term “Jews” to refer to the highest of the hierarchy and doggedly dogmatic of his tribe. John is not antisemitic and we must not be either. All of the prophets, apostles, church founders and our savior himself were Israelites and most from the tribe of Judah. Nevertheless the Bible is clear who belongs to true Israel. God loves all nations and all nations sin. We don’t want to get lost in terminology used that is in conflict with our current cultural climate but let the context interpret Scripture. Clearly John, the Jew, is writing about religious leaders and their followers when he uses the word “Jews” in this context. But we must keep everything in context also, it may not have been every Jewish person present in Jerusalem but it was more than a simple majority– how else would they have found a man with a little, rolled-up mat, walking in the middle of a huge crowd? Subsequently, how would they have found Jesus? We have to consider the context and understand other examples.
“Afterward Jesus found him in the temple, and said to him, ‘Behold, you have become well; do not sin anymore, so that nothing worse may befall you.'” Jesus found the man for the same reason he disappeared from the man’s view, he was on a mission, it was all intentional. Jesus finding the man in the crowd is evidence of this. We tend to think of Jesus as a mild mannered man with extreme love and compassion, only. We would never think that Jesus would use this superstitious man as a pawn. And while Jesus had extreme compassion on the man, the context will bear witness to the fact that the man who was made well after 38 years, never repented and was indeed used by Jesus as a springboard sign to this discourse.
Let’s rewind for a moment and use our adaptive recall, considering the continuing context and themes, seeing the symbolism and imagery. We remember John’s introduction, or his prologue, about the Word being God, the creator and the light and being made flesh–we will come back to this but keep it in mind. Then we see Jesus introduced to Nathanael and Jesus tips his hand as to who he is and what he will do.
“Jesus saw Nathanael coming to Him, and said of him, ‘Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!’ Nathanael said to Him, ‘How do You know me?’ Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.’ Nathanael answered Him, ‘Rabbi, You are the Son of God; You are the King of Israel.’ Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Because I said to you that I saw you under the fig tree, do you believe? You shall see greater things than these.’ And He said to him, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, you shall see the heavens opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.'”
Nathanael would therefore be looking for these things; we’re looking for these things too. After the miracle of changing worthless water into wonderful wine, John writes; This beginning of His signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory, and His disciples believed in Him.” There are seven signs John recorded in detail, and today’s text is one of those signs. Signs point to something or some things, Jesus is intentional and on a mission which we will see as we watch the sign unfold, considering the context and examining the discourse of Jesus.
I have surveyed some sermons from some men named John, on John 5; perhaps a Piper– maybe a MacAuthor; trustworthy pastors who have an excellent reputation and bear much, good fruit. Though these men, much wiser and more godly than myself, see the same themes as I do (because they consider the context), the fact is that we each let our “eschatological modes” steer the ship. We all understand that which Jesus did but would disagree on the timing. Let’s see if we can let the CAGED method unlock the timing. Therefore first things first, let’s consider the context.
Jesus, after disappearing into the crowd, later finds the man at the temple and tells him not to sin anymore, so that something worse than 38 years in sickness doesn’t happen to him. This is part of the sign. It points towards holiness yet also foreshadows what’s to come. Throughout the Bible we read things like, “be holy, your father in heaven is holy.” In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus magnified and amplified the Law, pointing out the impossibility of being perfect and thus pointed to himself. We see something similar here in John. Signs and subsequent statements point to something or someone, this particular part, points to Jesus’ holiness. We won’t spend much time on this because the sign continues to develop around this. As for foreshadowing what’s about to happen, watch what happens after Jesus tells the man not to sin.
“The man went away, and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well. And for this reason the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because He was doing these things on the Sabbath.”
Was it sin to squeal on Jesus to the Pharisees and Sadducees? Look at the results. They persecuted the only innocent man in history and he was also the Lord of creation. But I am getting way ahead of myself. However John’s point is well seen, Jesus anonymously healed the man but when he revealed himself to the man, the man delivered him over to persecution, knowing full well it would happen. We rewind once again and remember; “Now it was the Sabbath on that day. Therefore the Jews were saying to him who was cured, ‘It is the Sabbath, and it is not permissible for you to carry your pallet.’ But he answered them, ‘He who made me well was the one who said to me, “Take up your pallet and walk.”‘ They asked him, ‘Who is the man who said to you, “Take up your pallet, and walk?”‘”
The man shifted his blame to Jesus– That’s an enormous foreshadowing itself. It’s actually the point, yet it goes much deeper than his. This shows our depravity and the need for Jesus to take the blame, nevertheless the man blames Jesus to get the doggedly dogmatic off his case. In today’s lingo, the healed man threw his healer under the bus. He knew that the Pharisees were upset with him therefore he told them about an anonymous man. But when Jesus came back to the man, he pointed him out to the Pharisees. The man was touched by grace but walked in his newfound flesh in his flesh. He was healed physically but not spiritually– he reverted back to legalism. Squealing on the Savior, they began to persecute Jesus for healing on the Sabbath. They claimed that it was work but Jesus didn’t move, sweat or even lift a finger, he simply spoke– it wasn’t work. But Jesus doesn’t make this argument, rather he rips apart their understanding of God first and deals with the Sabbath by inferences.
“But He answered them, ‘My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working. For this cause therefore the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because He not only was breaking the Sabbath, but also was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God.”
Don’t let our current cultural customs cloud your vision of their cultural customs. Jesus was claiming to be one with the father, they understood it, and even then, after they accused him, Jesus didn’t deny it. Actually, he takes it further than simply calling God his father. Let’s look again at the initial exchange.
“But He answered them, ‘My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working.” Working and the Sabbath bring us all the way back to creation. “Thus the heavens and the earth were completed, and all their hosts. And by the seventh day God completed His work which He had done; and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.”
Did God rest because he was tired? Of course not. He rested because creation was completed. He rested because his creation work was finished and it was good. He rested as an example but he didn’t rest from being God– a perfect creation and a perfect example. The problem is what happened next–sin. After sin, for the sake of the world, God certainly couldn’t rest. Even without sin, God doesn’t really rest, even on the weekends.
Considering what Jesus said in today’s text, the themes in John and the creation narrative, we should look at what the apostle Paul wrote concerning this, “working.”
Concerning Christ Jesus, Paul writes; For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created by Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. ”
Jesus is not only the creator with God the father and Spirit but also the one who sustains. Like the song says, he’s got the whole, wide world in his hands. Jesus and the rest of the triune God, never stop working, especially when it comes to sin.
The Law of Moses, the prophets and the healing of the man 38 years in sickness all point to the need for God to never stop working. We are saturated with sin and a Savior is the solution. Not one who tires or sleeps but one who works for our redemption. I think of Elijah mocking ba’al believers on Mount Carmel. God doesn’t sleep, doesn’t take vacations or get Covid19. Yet Jesus was made flesh, one like us who knows temptation and what it’s like to live in the flesh, but still holy and without sin.
Hebrews 4:15 reads; “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” Jesus “is and was and is to come,” and since sin polluted the world, he’s been working. He came to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, Moses Joshua, the other Joshua and Zerubbabel. He came as a baby boy but the Spirit and the father worked every day in him. Jesus is the example of how not to sin– let God work. We’ll come back to this.
“For this cause therefore the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because He not only was breaking the Sabbath, but also was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God. Jesus therefore 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'”
Keep it simple; Jesus does what the father does because they are of the exact same nature and essence. Words and time fail when trying to describe the unity of the triune God but don’t let my lack of words cause you to stumble over the trinity. The people present surely stumbled, we don’t want to be like them but let the context unfold. Let’s look at the four “fors.” Conjunction, what’s your function?
“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. For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself is doing; and greater works than these will He show Him, that you may marvel. For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son also gives life to whom He wishes. For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son, in order that all may honor the Son, even as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.”
One at a time: God is always working and while Jesus is fully God, Paul wrote; “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
Even though he was God, Jesus relied on God and did what God does. But what is it that God was doing? You probably won’t like the answer at first but I hope it will grow on you. The father was doing the things Jesus was doing. Watch; “for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner.” Jesus anonymously healing the man is what the father was doing. Later revealing himself to the man, Jesus was doing what God was doing. It sounds overly simplified but it is the truth and becomes obvious as we continue in the context but, if you want to know what the father was doing, watch the son.
Why was the father doing these things of which we see the son doing? “For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself is doing; and greater works than these will He show Him, that you may marvel.”
The father loves the son; pause and ponder on this. Even still, with deep reflections and minds in meditation, we don’t get it or understand it. Like the trinity itself, God’s love for God absolutely boggles the mind. Our only hint of this, our only taste is marriage and the family and the gathering– and that, flawed. Nevertheless the dogmatic dispensationalists believe that the church is the bride of Christ but the blood descendants of Jacob are something else. To be honest, I can’t even remember the description of difference because there is no difference between a believing descendant of Jacob and a believing gentile. Conversely, their is no distinction between the unbelieving descendants of Jacob and the unbelieving gentiles. God is not racist or tribalistic but considers all who have the faith of Abraham as descendants. Matthew 3; Romans 4, 9, 10, and 11, Galatians 3, et al. Believers are the bride but pale in comparison to the love between God, God and God. God loves God the way only God can. It is at this point that my mind jumps to the crucifixion; “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” Because of the bride, unable to live and love like God. We see perfect love through the sacrifice. The father loves the son enough to turn his back on him, so that he may purchase a people for himself– a people the father gives to the son and he ultimately delivers them to the father, through and by his blood.
But he didn’t stay dead, did he? “For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son also gives life to whom He wishes.” Jesus came to die and the father loves him enough to let him die but he raised him from death on the third day, so that Jesus could also raise from the dead anyone whom he wishes– some from Israel proper and some from the nations. But here’s where I differ from most pastors and preachers, theologians and teachers; “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”
“For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son, in order that all may honor the Son, even as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.”
I know you are thinking, “Russell P, every christian believes that God loves the world.” Do they? Do we believe that all will honor the son? The dogmatic dispensationalists believe that the world goes to hell in a handbasket. The amillenial theologians believe that the world remains the same– sinful with a few exceptions. We have too much cultural clutter and too many presuppositions from taught traditions and verses out of context to come to an eschatological agreement. Yet the context continuously confirms that Jesus came to reverse the curse of sin by a pinprick of righteousness in human history and it’s pivotal.
We believe the father is the judge but notice the context and examples. God doesn’t have to judge, weighing sins verses good deeds. Jesus makes it crystal clear, he is is given the judgement and this judgment, in this context, concerning eternal life or eternal death, Jesus has summed up before.
“He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”
Today’s text confirms this covenant; “He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him. Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.”
As an amplified aside, as a christian, one will not be judged but one’s works will be. We won’t take time to examine this closely but I want you to be aware of this because many pastors and preachers, theologians and teachers claim otherwise. Also, it looks like a contradiction in the Bible because we see Jesus saying that he doesn’t judge anyone but that he is given all judgment. One must be careful to use exegesis and not eisegesis. Don’t pit words into the mouth of Jesus. He thoroughly explains how the two judgements work but it takes one reading the entire context to understand that their are technically 3 judgements– Belief in Jesus, works in Jesus, evil deeds apart from Jesus. Salvation has nothing to do with works, “by grace are you saved,” but works come from salvation and will be weighed in light of eternity.
Many pastors and preachers, theologians and teachers love to teach about the Bema seat and white-throne judgment. We don’t have time for this and neither did Jesus during his discourse in today’s text. A summary concerning salvation: believe in Jesus Christ and honor him as the son of God and you will be saved and not be judged but enter eternal life. If you don’t believe in Jesus, you have been judged already. Later, God will judge your works but that goes to the degree of punishment or reward in your already predetermined placement, based upon belief. Nevertheless if you are reading this it’s not too late to escape judgment. I know it’s confusing because of my writing but the gospel according to Jesus is simple and he lays it out to the doggedly dogmatic. We, like they, are simply stuck in a stagnant system of neither considering the context nor letting the Bible interpret the Bible.
You can’t know God without knowing Jesus. Yet the Jews claimed to know God. Jesus points this out to them. While there is much application for us, Jesus was speaking directly to them. We must understand the author’s aspirations to his audience before we understand what it means to us. “He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.” This was right in their faces. Remember that they persecuted him for healing on the Sabbath, something that even in their day, shouldn’t be considered “work.” He simply spoke to the man and the man was healed. Remember also that Jesus was claiming to be one with the father and for this, they wanted to kill him. Jesus could have defended his work on the Sabbath as he did at other times and he could have claimed to be a prophet and left it at that. But again, everything in this sign, from the initial healing to the discourse, was intentional. Therefore we must ask ourselves what was the aspiration of Jesus to those doggedly pursuing him? We know their aspirations, they hated Jesus and wanted him dead, but what was the intention of Jesus in this sign?
“Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear shall live.”
Is this sentence able to stand alone? Is it only applicable to them, in its context? Are we looking at what is described as “already but not yet?” We’ve seen a similar statement with the woman at the well. When speaking of whether to worship in Jerusalem or Samaria, Jesus tells the woman, “an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and truth.” Hour means hour but it is also used simply meaning “time.” However, it is usually used as time that is near and not far off, especially when coupled to the word “now.” Yes this statement is part of the continuing context but it is absolutely about their present time and a near future time to them. Nevertheless Jesus does speak of the future.
“For just as the Father has life in Himself, even so He gave to the Son also to have life in Himself; and He gave Him authority to execute judgment, because He is the Son of Man. Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs shall hear His voice, and shall come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment.'”
Once again back to Hebrews: Jesus was tempted like us and walked like us. Because Jesus was the Son of Man and made flesh and died in his perfect flesh, God gave judgment to Jesus. He also gave Jesus life in himself. All life and all authority and all kings and all dominion were given to Jesus. But this particular passage is more specific than that. Jesus is speaking to them directly about himself and his purpose.
Remember that it is one of the seven signs seen in John. These signs are simple if we keep it simple. I know it’s difficult to digest but consider all the context concerning this sign. The miracle itself was met with hostility and persecution. Think about this for a moment: the superstitious man was waiting by a pool, hoping someone would carry him into the water, on a high Sabbath day. Yet Jesus heals him without “working” and is persecuted for it. The man after being healed, is approached by Jesus and he subsequently throws Jesus under the bus. How high can the hypocrisy go?
Therefore when Jesus speaks about his working, oneness with the father, judgment, life and the dead rising to judgment and life, is Jesus really speaking about a far future fulfillment and epoch? Or is Jesus pointing to the new Covenant in his blood and their judgment, against Jerusalem in 70 AD? Considering the context and examples, I believe Jesus is speaking about it all, if we divide rightly the Scripture. Nevertheless he is zooming in on the judgment of Jerusalem as he zooms in on himself.
Why would God judge modern Israel but let the Pharisees and Sadducees get off with a warning? He didn’t, he warned them and warned them and warned them but rather than heed the multiple warnings, they sought to, and eventually, killed him. Jesus said, concerning his discourse in Matthew on the Mount of Olives, to a handful of disciples and no one else, “Behold, I have told you in advance.” And, “Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.”
We’re still soaked in sin but the blood of Christ, like a rock becoming a mountain, will one day cover the earth. Until then, he reigns in heaven with the ancient of days, working towards that end, even though his work in the flesh was fulfilled.
What’s the application to us then? If Jesus is speaking to that generation with a hint of final judgment, where does that leave us stuck in the middle? What application is there in our lives? The Holy Spirit. I am getting way ahead of myself but Lord willing we will see this in the future. But if we jump ahead and take a sneak peek, Jesus describes the role of the Holy Spirit brilliantly in John’s gospel account. Jesus reigns from heaven until all his enemies are subjected to him, the last being death. Until then, God is working and not sleeping. God is winning and not losing, God is with us and not far from us, God’s foot is on the accelerator and not the brake. The Holy Spirit is the exact representation of Jesus and Jesus is the exact representation of the Father. God is working.