John 5:15-23 : The man went away, and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well. For this cause the Jews persecuted Jesus, and sought to kill him, because he did these things on the Sabbath. But Jesus answered them, “My Father is still working, so I am working, too.” For this cause therefore the Jews sought all the more to kill him, because he not only broke the Sabbath, but also called God his own Father, making himself equal with God. Jesus therefore answered them, “Most certainly, I tell you, the Son can do nothing of himself, but what he sees the Father doing. For whatever things he does, these the Son also does likewise. For the Father has affection for the Son, and shows him all things that he himself does. He will show him greater works than these, that you may marvel. For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son also gives life to whom he desires. For the Father judges no one, but he has given all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son, even as they honor the Father. He who doesn’t honor the Son doesn’t honor the Father who sent him.
In this passage, we find out why the Jewish leadership wanted to kill Jesus. The reasons were:
- He healed on the Sabbath.
- He made Himself equal with God.
In regard to Jesus healing on the Sabbath, Jesus said that the Father is working so He was too. This may sound strange unless you understand the basis for observing the Sabbath. This rule is the fourth of the famous Ten Commandments:
Exodus 20:8-11 : Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. You shall labor six days, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to Yahweh your God. You shall not do any work in it, you, nor your son, nor your daughter, your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your livestock, nor your stranger who is within your gates; for in six days Yahweh made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day; therefore Yahweh blessed the Sabbath day, and made it holy.
Notice that it says: “…for in six days Yahweh made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day;” The reason for the rest that the Jews were required to do on the Sabbath, was that God rested and they were to imitate Him. Jesus’ reasoning was that His father was not resting and He was to do whatever God is doing now. He was following the spirit of the law by doing what God was doing right now not by merely copying what God did at one time. That is what is truly important; imitating God, not following rules.
Now Jesus gives out a hint about the amazing sign He will be doing publically. He says: “For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son also gives life to whom he desires.” Jesus is going to be raising the dead in front of them all, but we aren’t to that part yet…
So Jesus tells the critical leaders that He plans to come out with a bigger sign that will prove that He is who He says He is, but evidently, they would rather finish Him off before He can prove it. Jesus gives another reason why they should listen to Him. It’s more of a warning.
He says that God has given Him the power to judge. In other words, they should respect Jesus, because He will be the one deciding the fate of men. Jesus honestly tried to give these men fair warning, but clearly they refused to listen even though their own fate was in the balance. To top that, Jesus said that their failure to respect Him was going to be judged as a failure to respect God and “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” (Hebrews 10:31)