The narrative of today’s Gospel occurred in the Temple in Jerusalem. It was just after Jesus identified himself to the man whom he had cured at the pool called Beth-zatha. It was Jesus’ response to the accusations that he had broken the Sabbath Law and had spoken blasphemy. (Jn 5:16-18) After meditating on this Gospel reading over some length of time I came to see this discourse as pivotal.
When the initial period of his ministry was over, Jesus was met with hostility and opposition. Accusations and questions were put to him by those representing Jewish power. Their understanding was based on a narrow view of their own history. They did not understand who Jesus was, or where he had come from. They misread the signs; showing kindness and doing mercy, are not work, they do not break the Sabbath!
Jesus decided it was the time to clarify for other people his relationship with God the Father. In this discourse that relationship between the Father and the Son is spelled out explicitly in terms of the mutual love between the Father and the Son. (v. 20ff)
An innate sense of obedience for doing the Father’s will was derived from the mutual love shared by Jesus and the Father. We know from all of the Gospels that Jesus often went apart to quiet places to pray. (E.g. Mk 1:35, Mt 14:23, Lk 5:16). I feel that at least some of those times were spent perceiving the Father’s will.
We are told in the course of this discourse that the Father gave Jesus authority to execute judgment. I think that we can see in this the affirmation of the title Jesus sometimes used for himself, “The Son of Man”. It carries with it affirmation of Jesus’ humanity. (vv. 22 & 27)
I have come to agree with the opinion of Abp. Wm. Temple that Jesus faced the ferocity of his accusers with unruffled calm. (Temple, Readings in St. John’s Gospel, p.106) It is in keeping with the mutual love shared by the Father and the Son that Jesus normally gave soft answers and avoided harsh words. (Cf. Prov. 15:1)
Does reflection on this discourse of Jesus help you to understand the relationship between Jesus and God the Father during his ministry here on earth? Does it help you to honor the Father through the Son.
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