(For the next few weeks we will pick up again the series of short meditations in John 5 we started some time back)
Short Meditations in John 5: 30. Pleasing the Father
Jn 5:30 By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.
To the questions of how the Father and Son relate to each other, are they equal or are there apparent inequalities, this verse provides answers.
It starts off by Jesus’ declaration of need: “By myself I can do nothing.” Now of course, later in chapter fifteen when he is speaking of the vine, Jesus says the same thing about us and him: “Without me you can do nothing.” Now that is not very surprising because he is God and we are not, but when it comes to his relationship with the Father we may find that a little more surprising; the Son is reliant upon the Father. The Early Church Fathers and those church leaders who followed them struggled to understand the relationship and concluded that Jesus was not created but was begotten – ‘came out of’ the Father and was thus God in nature and being and yet when it comes to working out the relationship it seems that God the original, who we now call Father, is always seen as the initiator, the one who decides and the Son submits to His leadership.
Thus it is now that Jesus clearly places himself under the ‘headship’ of the Father, for the Father is the One who leads the way and the Son follows (see back to v.17-19). It may be that there is more to this that takes into account that when the Son inhabited a human body he clearly put off the glory he had in heaven previously and indeed relied upon the Holy Spirit to expand his human knowledge and experience to more nearly match his heavenly capabilities, thus when Jesus says, “I judge only as I hear,” we may suppose that he is referring to hearing what the Spirit communicates is the Father’s will and the Father knows all those they saw from before the foundation of the world (Eph 1) would be those who would respond to them, i.e. who became ‘chosen’. Thus now, as the Spirit communicates the Father’s will, that includes the revelation of who Jesus encountered that they knew are part of that ‘foreseen’ (and thus ‘chosen’) people. So, again, those Jesus accepts are those ‘chosen’ and he brings life to them, while those he rejects are those that the Godhead saw would be those who would reject them throughout their time here on earth.
Jesus therefore executes the will of the Father by declaring in heaven who are righteous and who are not (as they respond to him) and as he exercises this ministry or divine activity, so he pleases the Father. Indeed at the heart of their relationship is this love where the Father desires to bless the Son and the Son desires to please the Father, and thus provide a picture for us to follow.