Let’s read John 5:16-18: “And therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to kill Him, because he had done these things on the Sabbath. But Jesus answered them, ‘My Father has been working until now, and I have been working.’ Therefore the Jews sought all the more to kill Him, because He not only broke the Sabbath, but also said that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God” (NKJV). In explaining this very important passage, we will consider two questions: “What did Jesus mean when He spoke of His Father and Him working”; and “Why did the Jews believe that Jesus was making Himself equal to God by calling Him His Father?”

In Genesis 2:2-3 we read, “And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made” (NKJV). What a blessed day it was when God rested from His marvelous work of creation! In Genesis 1:31 we read these marvelous words, “And God saw everything that He had made, and, behold, it was very good.” Everything was GOOD, but it didn’t last long! For in a very short time Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden fruit and plunged the human race into ruin; SIN had marred God’s fair creation. As a result of this, God had to start working again. Why? Because He loved us and in order to restore man back into fellowship He had do a work to put away our sins. The prophet Isaiah speaks of this in Isaiah 43:24, “Thou hast bought Me no sweet cane with money, neither hast thou filled Me with the fat of thy sacrifices: but thou hast made me to serve with thy sins, thou hast wearied me with thine iniquities.” God has been working tirelessly to recover us from this terrible state of sin and this included sending His Son into the world to finish the work to put away our sins. This is why Jesus said, “My Father has been working until now, and I have been working.”

When Jesus called God “My Father,” they believed that He was claiming to be equal with God. If He had called Him “THE Father,” or “OUR Father,” they may not have objected, but to say “MY Father” implied that God was His Father in a way that no other person could claim it. They believed He was claiming a unique “Sonship” that included equality of nature. Add to this the fact that He had also claimed to be working right alongside His Father and this only added to their conclusion that He was “making Himself equal with God.”  This was blasphemy in their minds and they thought He deserved to die.

There are those today who would say about this passage, “Jesus wasn’t really making Himself equal with God; the Jews just thought He was making this claim.” In other words, the Jews had reached a false conclusion. But if Jesus wasn’t claiming equality with God, this would have been the perfect time for Him to say, “Look, I’m not saying I’m equal with God.” But instead of correcting them, He goes on to say in John 5:22-23, “For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son, so that all will honor the Son even as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him” (NASB). The word “honor” means to “respect.” Jesus is saying that all men should RESPECT the Son even as they RESPECT the Father. Those two little words “even as” are so important, for it means what we’ve been saying, “All men should RESPECT equally the Son and the Father. Why? Because they are both GOD and thus they are EQUAL!  (193.1)  (DO)