GREATER WORKS THAN THESE
John 5:17-20 But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work. Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill Him, because He not only had broken the Sabbath, but said also that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God. Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He seeth the Father do: for what things soever He doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise. For the Father loveth the Son, and showeth Him all things that Himself doeth: and He will show Him greater works than these, that ye may marvel. (Also see John 5:21-30)
Charged with violating the Mosaic Law of the Sabbath by healing the physically paralyzed man on that day, Jesus begins His defense before the Jewish leaders, who were probably members of the Sanhedrin. His answer to them was, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work. To say that God "worketh hitherto" means that He also works on this day in question, that is, on the Sabbath day. Therefore, Jesus told them that He, also, must work on this day. But from what works did God rest? The law of the Sabbath represents God's day of rest following the creation of all things of the universe, as we know it to be. God completed the creation in six days, and He rested from this work on the Sabbath, or on the seventh day. From Jesus' answer, we know that, although God rested from His creation, He never rests from ruling over that which He created. And this especially applies to all men and women that were created in His image. God never takes a holiday from, or a day off, when it comes to protecting, listening to the prayers of, giving guidance and counsel to, and healing all men and women of the world that He deems necessary and worthy of His intercession. We are assured that our Heavenly Father is always watching over us, twenty-four hours a day, and all seven days of each week, of each month, of each year, etc.
Just as God is always diligently watching over us, so too this must be the work of His Son, Christ Jesus. Indeed, God did command the Hebrew nation to observe the Sabbath in very severe terms. Exodus 31:14-16 tells us that the law of the Sabbath was not to be defiled, stating that whosoever doeth any work in the Sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death. "Work," as it is used here, means the labor put forth to acquire provisions for sustaining life - the things done to earn a living for one's self and his or her family. In order to insure the proper and careful observance of the law of the Sabbath, Jewish religious leaders added many "laws" that modified and extended the meaning of the original law given to Moses on Mount Sinai. Although these different interpretations made by the scribes and other Jewish leaders went beyond its true meaning, benevolent works of love, mercy, and necessity, have always been exempt from the law of the Sabbath. On a similar occasion Jesus and His disciples were accused by the Pharisees of violating the Sabbath for picking corn from the field to eat on that day. Jesus responded in a manner proving His divinity by telling them that the Son of man is Lord even of the Sabbath day (See Matt. 12:1-8). Jesus often referred to Himself as "the Son of man" to describe His human element, and "the Son of God" to reveal His spiritual, or divine, element of being. Since God ruled over the Sabbath day, so did His Son.
In verse 16, the Jews sought to slay Jesus for healing the impotent man on the Sabbath. Now, after admitting Himself to be God's Son, the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he ... said also that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God. Here, as well as in other places of the New Testament, Jesus always told the truth even at times when in endangered His life. As an example to us, we too can never be faulted for telling the truth. If someone becomes irritated because of the truth, it is their lack of understanding that is to be blamed. And often, the more truth is proclaimed the more unbelievers become enraged. Such seems the case here with these Jewish leaders. For one to claim to be equal with God was blasphemy in the eyes of these disbelieving Jews.
To give further proof that He was the Son of God and possessed a power equal to His, Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He seeth the Father do: for what things soever He doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise. One cannot separate the works of God, the Heavenly Father, from His Son. That which the Father has done, can do, and will do in the future, is the same as that of His Son, Jesus Christ. God is ever governing, protecting, and, where He sees a just need for healing, He restores health and strength to those having faith in His power to do so. This, God does even on the Sabbath day. And like His Father, these also doeth the Son likewise.
And why is this true? For the Father loveth the Son, and showeth Him all things that Himself doeth. Nothing has been hidden from the Son by His Heavenly Father. Although much has been hidden from earthly beings throughout all ages, all things have been revealed to Christ Jesus from the beginning of time to the present, and will be revealed to Him until the end of time. If that isn't enough for all mankind to comprehend, the apostle John, by revelation, tells us that He (God, the Heavenly Father) will show Him (His Son, Jesus the Savior) greater works than these, that ye may marvel. To this point in the life of Jesus, many miracles had been preformed before multitudes of witnesses that established without question that He was the Son of God, the promised Messiah, and the Savior of the world. The last of which was the healing of the impotent man, whom, after he was healed, Jesus told him to rise, take up thy bed, and walk (Vs. 8 above). Considering all of these miracles, John assures us that God, through His Son, will perform greater works than these, and all who observe them will be filled with wonder and amazement.
Verses following the lesson text tell us about some of these marvelous works. Through God's Son, Christ Jesus, the dead will be brought back to life (Vs. 21). The ruler's daughter (Mark 5:35-42), the widow's son in the city of Nain (Luke 7:11-15), and Lazarus in the city of Bethany (John 11:14-44) are examples of Jesus raising the dead. Also, all mankind of the world will be judged by Him (Vs. 22). It is also implied that, as He raised these during His earthly ministry, so will He raise all people from death on the Day of Judgment. Therefore, the next verse tells us that Jesus has been given the ability to look into the hearts and minds of every man and woman of the world, whether they were raised from death or were alive at His coming, and with His omniscient wisdom, He will understand and rightly judge that person based on their conduct of life on earth. These will be performed by Jesus so that all men should honor the Son, even as they honor the Father (Vs. 23). To accept and honor Jesus as the Savior of mankind is to accept and honor God as the provider of eternal salvation through the sacrificial blood of His Son, Christ Jesus. Hearing the Word of God and believing Jesus to be God's Son, will cause one to obey the will of God that is necessary in order to obtain everlasting life. The dedicated student of God's word will find this meaning in verses 24-30, which follow.