Meditations on Jesus in John’s Gospel : 33 : Jesus, Co-Worker with the Father
Jn 5:17-20 Jesus said to them, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working…… I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does.”
It is a common thought among Christians to wonder about God’s activity, for it seems sometimes as if the Lord is still and quiet and doing nothing, but we’ll suggest from the outset that this perception is either because He hides His activity from us, or we simply aren’t looking. The reason for saying this is in these verses today.
Jesus makes a quite remarkable comment: My Father is always at his work. Add to that his comment that the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing and you realize, looking at the number of things Jesus did, that the Father must be very busy. Indeed when you consider John’s comment at the end of his Gospel, “Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written” (Jn 21:25), you realize just a little of how much the Father is doing. The Father instigated and the Son implemented. Does the Lord do just as much today? Yes, why not? It’s just that we don’t see it. As we’ve said previously in these meditations, we need to learn to observe when the Father is working. That person who suddenly starts asking questions about the Christian faith after years of no interest, why are they doing it? The Father is prompting them. Why do you sometimes find yourself thinking about faith issues? Because the Father is prompting. Why do people venture out in great new faith ventures? Because the Father is prompting.
So here we see Jesus declaring that he only does what he sees his Father in heaven doing. It is a perfect partnership. If you didn’t take in what we said earlier, here it is again: the Father instigates and the Son implements. The Father had the perfect overall picture and therefore know who was ready for what and conveys that to the Son in the limited human body, who then stretches out, speaks a word and brings about what is on the Father’s heart.
The apostle Paul said, “we are God’s fellow workers” (1 Cor 3:9) conveying the same idea. (Also 2 Cor 6:1). It is this same idea of partnership, working alongside God to do His bidding here on the earth. What are the requirements to be one of God’s fellow workers? Well, first of all it has to be availability. You may remember the writer to the Hebrews: “when Christ came into the world, he said: Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me; with burnt offerings and sin offerings you were not pleased. Then I said, ‘Here I am–it is written about me in the scroll– I have come to do your will, O God’.” (Heb 10:5-7). Jesus accepted that the Father had given him a human body so that he could do God’s will on the earth – availability!
The second thing has to be a sensitivity to the prompting of the Holy Spirit, for that is how the Father conveys His intentions to us. Yes, He may convey His will through His word, through other people and through circumstances, but for the daily moment by moment service, the Father looks for our availability and your sensitivity to His leading. When He finds that He leads and we follow as His co-workers, just as Jesus showed us (Jn 14:12).