Christians believe in what we call the ‘Trinity’. We have one God; but that one God has three persons: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit.
But are all three persons of the Trinity equal to one another? Is Jesus slightly less or lower than his Father? How does that work?
John 5:16-30 sheds light on this question – read it through and notice what is said about Jesus’ relationship to God the Father:
16 So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jewish leaders began to persecute him. 17 In his defense Jesus said to them, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working.” 18 For this reason they tried all the more to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.
19 Jesus gave them this answer: “Very truly I tell you, 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. 20 For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, and he will show him even greater works than these, so that you will be amazed. 21 For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it. 22 Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, 23 that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him.
24 “Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life. 25 Very truly I tell you, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live. 26 For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. 27 And he has given him authority to judge because he is the Son of Man.
28 “Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice 29 and come out—those who have done what is good will rise to live, and those who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned. 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.”
According to Jesus – who would know! – God the Father and God the Son work together. All the time. Jesus never works apart from his Father. The Father never works apart from the Son. The Father gives life and the Son gives life; the Father judges – but through entrusting judgment to the Son; the Son is to be honoured as the Father is honoured; the Father has life in himself and the Son has life in himself; the Father has authority and he has given the Son authority. Jesus’ testimonial about his interrelationship with his Father is crystal clear:
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.” (v30)
Jesus cannot do anything without the Father. He judges only with the Father’s judgment, and seeks only to please his Father. He and the Father are one. Indeed, this whole trail of teaching was kicked into gear when the Jewish leaders understood that Jesus was ‘making himself equal with God’ (v18).
There is no illustration in the universe to help us understand this, because the relationship between God the Father and God the Son is entirely unique. All we can do is allow our minds to be expanded (and blown!) by Scripture, and grow in awe of the human who walked earth as fully God – even the earth he had created! – yet laid down his life to save us.
Head: Read through the passage again and notice the things said about both God the Father and God the Son. What have you learned?
Heart: Do you think of God the Father and God the Son (aka Jesus) as equal to one another? Even way back in your subconscious, are you tempted to think of Jesus as anything less than fully God? If so, what can you do about it?
Hands: Who can you tell today about God the Son coming into the world as a man in order to save us?
Prayer: Heavenly Father, my finite mind struggles to appreciate the glory of your Son. Sometimes I don’t think of him as fully God. I fail to see how glorious he is. Please forgive me. And help me, as I study John’s Gospel this term, to grow in my appreciation of your Son – fully God, fully man. Help me to see that Jesus does your will; that you and he work together. By the power of your Holy Spirit, help me to worship and love you, my one God. In Jesus’ name, amen.
A song to listen to: Our Saviour & Our King