John 5:19

Most of our Lord's discourses concern man and his spiritual life, are moral and practical. But this passage is, in the true and proper sense of the term, theological, informing us of the relations between the persons of the Godhead, and revealing, so to speak, the inner springs of our Saviour's ministry, by giving us a glimpse into the Divine nature and purposes.

I. THE FATHER IS EVER CARRYING ON BENEFICENT OPERATIONS IN HUMAN SOCIETY. The whole discussion originated in the cure of the infirm man at Bethesda; this being wrought on the sabbath occasioned the murmurings of the Jews, and elicited the defence of Jesus. Now, an ordinary physician, had he effected such a cure, would have been rightly satisfied to fall back upon the fact that the man's sufferings were relieved, and that human strength and comfort are an abundant justification for any measures not morally wrong. But the Divine Physician fell back upon the working of God in the world and among men. What he says does not remove all mystery, for he tells us nothing to explain the existence of sin and of suffering. But he does give us to understand that God is ever working among men in the very way in which he - Jesus himself - had been working, when he had healed the infirmities of the sick.

II. THE FATHER, LOVING THE SON, SHOWS HIM WHAT THINGS HE IS EVER DOING. This language is, of course, accommodated to our powers of comprehension. However the world, or the Jews in particular, might hate Christ, he was the beloved of the Divine Father, and as such was admitted to the Father's intimate and affectionate confidence. What a qualification for him who came to this earth as Prophet, Priest, and King of humanity! How wise a provision was thus made for our salvation! A perfect sympathy exists between the Personal Power of beneficence in the universe and the Teacher, Saviour, Lord of man.

III. THE SON, SEEING THE FATHER'S WORKS, DOES THE SAME IN HIS EARTHLY MINISTRY AND IN THE EXERCISE OF HIS MEDIATORIAL SOVEREIGNTY. Here was the all-sufficient vindication of our Lord's miracles themselves, and also of their manner and circumstances. The Father is ever working for man's welfare, on the sabbath as on other days. Every day of the week his sun shines, his air passes gently over the earth, his streams flow, his flowers bloom, his birds sing, his creatures rejoice in his bounty and kindness. He is all day long and every day promoting not only the bodily, but the intellectual and spiritual welfare of his dependent children. And what the Father does, that the Son does, moving amongst men, seen or unseen, a Presence of grace and comfort, of inspiration and of peace. Thus he ever works his Father's works, and forwards the cause which is dear to the Father's heart. Where we see the triumphs of the Gospel in individual hearts, in human society, let us recognize the tokens of the Saviour's holy and benevolent ministry, and be assured that this is the work of God himself.

IV. THE PAST OPERATIONS OF DIVINE MERCY ARE A PLEDGE OF GREATER AND MORE MARVELLOUS WORKS IN THE FUTURE. Our Lord, unlike a human teacher or leader, always represented what he did as only the promise of greater and better things to come. This assurance of his foreknowledge was verified in the marvels of Pentecost, and in the fruits which have been yielded throughout the long centuries of the spiritual dispensation. - T.

The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He seeth the Father do.
The Jews sought to kill Jesus in obedience to the law(1) because He wrought a miracle on the Sabbath;(2) because He vindicated Himself on the ground of His equality with God, who constantly works such miracles in His providence on the Sabbath. So far from disclaiming the Jewish inference He here confirms it. Note —


1. Unity of operation. These words assert that as it is impossible for the Son to do anything of Himself, so it is impossible that the Father can do anything without the Son. The cure of the impotent man, therefore, was by both.

2. Distinction of persons. The Father shows, the Son sees; the Father purposes, the Son executes.

3. Identity of works. They do the same, not similar things. The same Jesus stands in the midst of us and says, "Wilt thou be made whole?" If we despise Him speaking in His word we despise the great God with whom we have to do.


1. Love is the expression of the Father's feeling toward the Son.

2. He communicates Himself to the Son and makes Him His counsellor.

3. This relation Christ made known that they might marvel — admire God's glorious manifestation of Himself and give Him glory.


1. (ver. 21). Resurrection and quickening, including no doubt the physical, but referring mainly to the spiritual process.(1) Raising up. Sin, as a frightful incubus, rests on the soul exerting its paralysing influence. This spiritual death is chased away.(2) Quickening. New life is imparted. Death implies previous life. A tree cut down and withered is different from a stone. In Adam the soul died; when the Son quickens a new and more glorious life is communicated.(3) There can be no consideration more alarming than our continuance in this death. How dreadful to pass away without having the experience of this raising up and quickening, and to lie for ever in condemnation as self-destroyed.

2. (vers. 22-23). Judgment.(1) To Him is committed the whole administration of the gospel; and when His supreme government is asserted as here, it means that the Father judgeth no man alone — both judge.(2) He will preside at the eternal awards.


1. If Christ is not worshipped God is not (ver. 23). God must be approached according to the revelation He has made of Himself: we cannot do so unless we know Him as the Father who sent the Son.

2. Salvation comes by the word of Christ (ver. 24).(1) This hearing, no doubt, includes listening with the outward ear; a great and necessary duty. But it is also (ver. 25) of a kind which awakens to life, with the mind and spirit, therefore, prompting to action, so that we become not hearers only, but "doers."(2) Salvation is by resting on the true object of faith — in God as sending the Son not as the Creator, etc.(3) This salvation is everlasting life — a great salvation therefore. "How shall we escape if we neglect it."

(A. Beith, D. D.)

I. THE FATHER LOVETH THE SON. What has this to do with us What have we to do with the Son? The answer to the latter will answer the former. If we are one with Christ the fact that God loves Him —

1. Will solve a number of curious and doubtful questions. Satan is always trying to draw believers away from what is simple. The Father loveth the Son. Can Satan deny that? If not, then if I be the Son's, all the outgoings and principles of God concerning me must be of love. Everything must be consistent with that.

2. Will lift us up above a number of depressions.

(1)Are we tried?



(4)weary and worn. Whoever was so tried as the beloved Son?


1. Wherever love attains its highest form there is rest. It puts away all ifs and speculations, and goes down into the ocean depths of certainties which are beyond the reach of surface storms.

2. This should give us great power

(1)in prayer, passing into God's mind through an inlet of love; its answer coming forth through the outlet of love;

(2)in faith;

(3)in hope.


(P. B. Power, M. A.)

resembles Luther's: "I cannot do otherwise"; or, to take a nearer example, Jesus puts His work under the guarantee of the Father's, as the impotent man had just put his under the shelter of Jesus.

(F. Godet, D. D.)

Neither the man nor the angel exists who could dare to say of himself: "I can do nothing of myself;" because no man's and no angel's self is essentially and inseparably one with the self of God. The creature can tear itself away from its Creator, and place its I in opposition to Him; it can seek its life in itself, instead of in Him, and it can act "in its own name" (John 8:44); the Son of God, on the contrary, has nothing of His own, no self, which does not eternally contain the same life which the Father has.

(R. Besser, D. D.)

The Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment to the Son. —
I. JUDGMENT APPERTAINS TO GOD. It is His in criminal causes (Romans 12:19) and in civil things (Psalm 82:1). No function of God is so often reiterated. And He is the Judge of judges themselves. Judgment is so essential to God that it is co-eternal with Him.

1. He knows, and therefore naturally detests evil. We are blind, and need the assistance of the law to know what is evil. And if a man be a judge what an exact knowledge of the law is required of him — for some things are sins to one nation which are not to another, and some things are sin at one time which are not at another. Only God has a universal knowledge, and therefore detestation of evil.

2. He discerns when thou committest evil. Hence you have to supply defects in laws so that things done in one country may be tried in another. But God has the power of discerning all actions in all places. Earthly judges have their distinctions and so their restrictions; some things they cannot know — what mortal can, and some things they cannot take knowledge of, for they are bound by evidence. But nothing keeps God from discerning and judging everything.

3. He knows how to punish evil. The office of a judge being not to contract or extend the law, but to declare its true meaning. God hath this judgment in perfection, for He made the law by which He judges. Who then can dispute His interpretation? As, then, God is judge in all these three respects, so He is a judge(1) without appeal;(2) without needing any evidence (Proverbs 24:12; Proverbs 16:2; 1 Corinthians 4:4); and if so, not only I, but not the most righteous man, nor the Church He hath washed in His own blood, shall appear righteous in His sight.

II. How then, seeing that judgment is an inseparable character of God, can it be said that THE FATHER JUDGETH NO MAN? Not certainly because weary. He judges as God, not as Father. In the three great judgments of God the whole Trinity judges.

1. Before all times in our election.

2. Now in separating of servants from enemies.

3. At the last judgment in separating the sheep from the goats.Consider God altogether, and so in all outward works, all the Trinity concurs, because all are one God; but consider God in relation, in distinct persons, and so the several persons do something in which the other persons are not interested. So the Son judgeth, the Father judgeth not, for that judgment He hath committed.

III. TO THE SON HE HATH COMMITTED ALL JUDGMENT, the image of the invisible God, and so more proportional unto us, more apprehensible by us.

1. But doth He judge as Son of God or as Son of Man. Upon this the Fathers and Reformers are divided. But take this rule, God hath given Christ this commission as Man, but Christ had not been capable of it had He not been God too. The ability is in Him eternally, but the power of actual execution was given Him as Man.

2. All judgment —(1) Of our election. If I were under the condemnation of the law, and going to execution, and the king's pardon were presented to me, I should ask no question as to motives and circumstances, but thankfully attribute it to his goodness and accept it; so when I consider myself as under God's consideration, and yet by the working of God's Spirit I find I am delivered from it I inquire not what God did in His cabinet council. I know that He hath elected me in Christ. And, therefore, that I may know whether I do not deceive myself I examine myself whether I can truly tell my conscience that Christ died for me, which I cannot do if I have not a desire to conform myself to Him; and if I do that then I find my predestination.(2) Of our justification, "for there is none other name," etc. Do I then remember what I contracted with Christ when I took His name at baptism? Have I fulfilled those conditions? Do I find a remorse when I have not? Do I feel remission of those sins when I hear the gracious promises of the gospel to repentant sinners? Have I a true and solid consolation when I receive the seal of pardon at the Sacrament? Therefore this judgment is His also.(3) Of our glorification (Revelation 1:7). Then He shall come as Man and give judgment for things done or omitted towards Him as Man, "for not feeding," etc. Conclusion: Such is the goodness of God that He deals with man by the Son of Man.

1. If you would be tried by the first judgment; are you elected or no? Do you believe in Christ?

2. If by the second, are you justified or no? Do you find comfort in the Word and sacraments of Christ?

3. If by the third, do you expect a glorification? Are you so reconciled to Jesus Christ now that you durst say now, "Come quickly, Lord Jesus"? then you are partakers of all that blessedness which the Father intended for you when, for your sake, He committed all judgment to the Son.

(J. Donne, D. D.)

That our Saviour was perfect God and perfect man is a truth which cannot be denied and Christianity not fall to the ground. But this very combination will cause apparent inconsistencies in the way in which He is spoken of. And it should be remembered that what holds good of Him in one capacity may be inapplicable to Him in another. As God judgment could not be committed to Him. He had it by Divine necessity and right. But it is as Mediator, a Being in which the two natures combine, that He is entrusted with the authority as Judge.

I. HE WILL JUDGE AT THE LAST DAY. What are the qualifications requisite for such an office?

1. Obviously no mere creature can fulfil that function. There must be acquaintance with secrecies of character as well as open actions. Hypocrisy must not pass undetected, nor unobtrusive merit fail of recompense. Angels cannot be judges of human character, nor possess themselves of all the necessary evidence. Omniscience alone will suffice.

2. But if we cannot approach an angelic judge with confidence, how approach omniscient Deity? A created judge is immeasurably nearer than the Creator, though of a different nature.

3. You ask, therefore, for one who shall have a thorough fellow feeling with those brought to his bar, i.e., a man. But how can you hope to have a man who, qualified by sympathy, should yet possess the qualification of omniscience?

4. This combination, however, does exist. A man sits on that "great white throne," "bone of our bone," but God to whom all things are naked and open.

II. HE JUDGES NOW, for all judgment is committed to Him.

1. To this we are indebted for that tenderness which characterizes God's present judgments. Afflictions are not allowed to come together; "the rough wind" is restrained till "the east wind" has passed away. Chastisement is very different conceived as inflicted by God and inflicted by the Mediator.

2. If this be so how heavy will be the final judgment! There will be no pleading that our case was not thoroughly understood. All along we have been drawn by the cords of a man; then the impenitent will be judged by the Man who died for them and tried by every possible means to turn them from enemies into friends. His presence itself will condemn, and they will call to the rocks, etc., to hide them from not the thunderbolts of avenging Deity, but from the face of Him who became man for their salvation. Anything might be better borne than the glance of this face so eloquent of rejected mercies.

(H. Melvill, B. D.)

Men will have views very different from what they now have.

I. THE MISER will see a life spent in gathering gold with terror.

II. THE AMBITIOUS will wonder that he could barter his soul for office.

III. THE SENSUALIST will dread to review his luxury and lewdness.

IV. THE SOPHIST will argue no more against Divine truth.

V. THE IMPENITENT will be amazed at his madness in clinging to his sins.

VI. THE MOCKER will jest no more about sacred things,

VII. THE PROFANE will howl over the folly that resulted God.

(W. H. Van Doren, D. D.)

I will tell you a dream of one of quality, related to myself by the dreamer himself. Said he, "I dreamed the day of judgment was come, and all men appeared before Christ. Some were white, others spotted. Methought," said he, "I was all white, saving that I had one black spot upon my breast, which I covered with my hand. Upon the separation of these two sorts I got among the white on the right band. Glad was I; but at last a narrow search was made, and one came and plucked away my hand from my breast; then appeared my spot, and I was thrust away among the spotted ones."

(Thomas Larkham.)

That all men should honour the Son even as they honour the Father. —

1. Because the perfections of the Father are those of the Son (ver. 26). Omnipotence, Omnipresence, Omniscience, Holiness, Love, etc.

2. Because the works of the Father are those of the Son (ver. 19). Creation, Providence, Redemption, Resurrection.

3. Because the administration of the Father is that of the Son (ver. 22).(1) Now over kingdoms, cities, families, individuals.(2) At the great day.

4. Because it is the special desire of both the Father and the Son.(1) Of the Father, because on the honour of the Son the whole blessedness of the universe is centred.(2) Of the Son, because the Father is only honoured through the Son. God was not honoured in Judaism, witness its lapses into idolatry and its ultimate formalism; nor by Mohammedanism, witness its cruelty and licentiousness; nor in heathenism, where He is not known at all; nor by Deism, as proved by its development into agnosticism and atheism. Only in Christendom is God honoured, because Christ is honoured.

II. How?

1. By admiring the perfections of the Divine Son. "The chiefest among ten thousand," etc.

2. By acknowledging the services of the Divine Son. We are His because He made, preserved, and redeemed us; therefore we should glorify Him as our Master, Friend, Saviour.

3. By co-operating with the rule of the Divine Son.

(1)By obeying it ourselves.

(2)By securing its recognition in others.

4. By making the Supreme desire in the universe the master passion and motive of our souls; doing all things with the one aim of securing the honour of the Son and of the Father through Him.

III. Where?

1. At home.

(1)In secret prayer. This will test the purity and constancy of our motive.

(2)In our families, bringing them up to honour Christ by reverencing His name, word, and ordinances.

2. In the sanctuary.

(1)By attentively listening to the Word.

(2)By regular attendance at His table.

(3)By heartiness in His worship.

3. In the world eschewing all business, amusements, etc., likely to bring dishonour on Him.

(J. W. Burn.)

Amphilochus, Bishop of Iconium, entered the palace of Theodosius, and bowed to the Emperor, but not to Arcadius his son. The Emperor reminding him of his neglect, the good man still refused, and on his showing great displeasure, Amphilochus replied, "O king, how much more will Jehovah abhor those rejecting His Son!"

(W. H. Van Doren, D. D.)

Napoleon I.
Across a chasm of eighteen hundred years Jesus Christ makes a demand which is beyond all others difficult to satisfy. He asks that for which a philosopher may often seek in vain at the hands of his friends, or a father of his children, or a bride of her spouse, or a man of his brother. He asks for the human heart; He will have it entirely to Himself; He demands it unconditionally; and forthwith His demand is granted.

(Napoleon I.)

"And they worshipped Him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy." Did they sin in worshipping the Lord Jesus Christ? After their long career of intimacy, did love to such a being, who had exhausted the symbolism of life to express His life-giving relations to them; with every conceivable incitement, reverence, and worship; with love, wonder, joy, and gratitude kindling their imaginations towards Him; without a solitary word of caution lest they should be snared by their en- thusiasm, and bestow upon Him the worship that belonged only to God — did they sin in worshipping Him? If they did, was not Christ Himself the tempter? If they did not, may not every living soul worship Him?

(H. W. Beecher.)

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