He did not stutter. He did not flinch. He did not blink. When Jesus was confronted by the religious elites about His healing of the lame man, Jesus stood firm in the truth and gave an answer that confirmed His identity. “My Father worketh hitherto, and I work.” The Jewish listeners inferred that Jesus was claiming that God was His Father. Not only was God His Father, but in Trinity, this meant that as the Son of God, Jesus was Himself God. This was not a truth lost on the audience.
For any who would come along and level again the charge that Jesus never claimed to be God, they have not read nor understood John 5:17-18. The reaction of the Jewish leaders indicates fully that they knew Jesus was claiming that He was equal with God. Instead of skirting the issue and backing down from His original statement, Jesus began to teach more clearly what His role was and what God the Father’s role was.
The Jews had come to him wanting to kill him, but that changed. Now, the fact that they wanted to murder Him didn’t change, the only thing that changed was why they wanted to murder Him. At first, they wanted to kill Him because He had instructed someone to walk and carry their bed roll on the Sabbath. That was despicable in their eyes, even worthy of death. But having confronted Him, they heard something even more appalling to them, He claimed to be equal with God.
The stoning that they were going to give Him for breaking the Sabbath was negligible compared to the stoning that He was going to get for what amounted to blasphemy in their eyes. Jesus later refers to Himself as “The Truth,” and there is no better time when that reveals itself than right here. Instead of softening His answer and walking away, Jesus squared His shoulders and began teaching with such obvious confidence that the religious leaders must have been dumbfounded.
By the time we get to verse 36-38, Jesus explains that God the Father sent Jesus because the Jews had been living a lie. Instead of living in faith trusting and believing God, they have departed into a wicked religion built on good works and striving for the unearnable merit of God. Jesus, having been validated by God as the embodiment of Truth has shown up, and the Jews still don’t want to believe. Now, Jesus, the deliverer, reveals the stark contrast between Himself and the broken, defunct, religious captivity that the religious leaders have shackled themselves and God’s people to.
Food For Thought: What were the two reasons that the Jewish leaders wanted to kill Jesus for? How does Jesus say that He is equal to God in today’s text?