Tuesday, 5 April 2011


Gospel John 5:17-30 

Jesus said to the Jews, ‘My Father goes on working, and so do I.’ But that only made them even more intent on killing him, because, not content with breaking the sabbath, he spoke of God as his own Father, and so made himself God’s equal.

To this accusation Jesus replied:

‘I tell you most solemnly,
the Son can do nothing by himself;
he can do only what he sees the Father doing:
and whatever the Father does the Son does too.
For the Father loves the Son
and shows him everything he does himself,
and he will show him even greater things than these,
works that will astonish you.
Thus, as the Father raises the dead and gives them life,
so the Son gives life to anyone he chooses;
for the Father judges no one;
he has entrusted all judgement to the Son,
so that all may honour the Son
as they honour the Father.
Whoever refuses honour to the Son
refuses honour to the Father who sent him.
I tell you most solemnly,
whoever listens to my words,
and believes in the one who sent me,
has eternal life;
without being brought to judgement
he has passed from death to life.
I tell you most solemnly,
the hour will come – in fact it is here already –
when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God,
and all who hear it will live.
For the Father, who is the source of life,
has made the Son the source of life;
and, because he is the Son of Man,
has appointed him supreme judge.
Do not be surprised at this,
for the hour is coming when the dead will leave their graves
at the sound of his voice:
those who did good will rise again to life;
and those who did evil, to condemnation.
I can do nothing by myself;
I can only judge as I am told to judge,
and my judging is just,
because my aim is to do not my own will,
but the will of him who sent me.’

And they only complained about him working on the Sabbath...

I can only imagine the deathly hush following this testimony of relationship and interdependence between Jesus and God, the Father. Either Jesus is mad, overwhelmed by demons or blasphemous; and by this evidence, guilty on all counts.

What is not possible is that any of this is true.

Because Jesus is only a man, a carpenter, Mary's son and a Nazarene and none of those images fit with the idea of the Messiah. The Jews do not expect their saviour to be someone they could only look down on. The Messiah had been lifted onto a high pedestal generations ago and, even he was not God - but sent by God.

Jesus looks, acts and seems like a man - he even admits that his miracles are not 'his' but God's. But then he places himself at his Father's side, in communion with the Father. My Father goes on working... God is not sitting in a tent or on a mountaintop - God is in the details; in the overlooked and unimportant.

Jesus moves between states of power and powerlessness and it seems to be that the Father does the same. A pulse of power and grace that moves from one to the other; that needs one for the other; that is fed from one to the other. God-ness holding the vision; the insight; the 'what will be' and the humanity holding the understanding of loss; of rejection; of hope. The energy, the vulnerability, the creative desire that comes from this is the life that Jesus pours into others; in healing and forgiveness and eventually in redemption.

This is not a faith for the faint-hearted. This is a faith of right here, right now. Lots of questions; lots of uncertainty; lots of responsibility on our part to do the right thing.

It would seem that there is more than one way to observe a Sabbath.



Mari's Cakes said...

You are right, there is more than one way to observe the sabbath, we shouldn't box in in one exact way. What good is it for us to observe the sabbath and not listen to God's will of what he wants us to do on a particular sabbath day, because of sertant "rules".

Have a wonderful afternoon :)

Margaret said...

You know, sometimes I really wish we could have some of that faith for the feint of heart. It would be easier.

Word in the Hand said...

Oh I know Margaret, for me I have found it quite the opposite - I get more and more uncomfortable about how my faith used to be so limited - maybe it has to grow up like the rest of us - different for different peole though.
Yes, Mari - when Jesus 'mis' observes the Sabbath he is doing his Father's work - how can anyone think that that is wrong?
Thank you both - God Bless m+x

Anonymous said...

Great thoughts Word..it's like Jesus defined the Sabbath. Rules are made for man, etc. We sometimes get so blinded by our rules that we forget people, people in need, people who are hurting, people who need to be loved. Jesus never did.

Word in the Hand said...

I think that's true Andie - I think it's fair enough that we are given a day to rest from 'work' - not that many take it these days -but we surely can never rest from our duty as Christians?

Hold my hand: a social worker's blog said...

Good morning!

Thanks for stopping by my blog, and for your kind comment.

And nice meeting you :-)


claire said...

The Jews do not expect their saviour to be someone they could only look down on.
I love this sentence, Word.
You have my imagination going wild on how Jesus will come back, as whom?

Word in the Hand said...

Always the worry Claire - that we are just as capable of overlooking Christ ourselves.

Marinela said...

Great thoughts Word, liked your post and your excellent blog :)

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