Podcast Reflections

Reflection on John 5.17-30 (Lent)

Listen to a reflection for Lent 4: Wednesday, 22 March, on John 5.17-30

John 5.17-30

Jesus said to the Jews, ‘My Father is still working, and I also am working.’ For this reason the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because he was not only breaking the sabbath, but was also calling God his own Father, thereby making himself equal to God. 

Jesus said to them, ‘Very truly, I tell you, the Son can do nothing on his own, but only what he sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, the Son does likewise. The Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing; and he will show him greater works than these, so that you will be astonished. Indeed, just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whomsoever he wishes. The Father judges no one but has given all judgement to the Son, so that all may honour the Son just as they honour the Father. Anyone who does not honour the Son does not honour the Father who sent him. Very truly, I tell you, anyone who hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life, and does not come under judgement, but has passed from death to life. 

‘Very truly, I tell you, the hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. For just as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself; and he has given him authority to execute judgement, because he is the Son of Man. Do not be astonished at this; for the hour is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and will come out – those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation. 

‘I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge; and my judgement is just, because I seek to do not my own will but the will of him who sent me.’


Jesus said to the Jews: I seek to do not my own will but the will of him who sent me.

As we journey through the world, as the days of our earthly lives go by, we develop an increasingly intense sense of entitlement. As we journey from childhood to adulthood we are encouraged to develop a sense of self-dependence. Our parents will encourage us to ‘stand up for ourselves’. Our teachers will encourage us to make judgements and decisions based upon our own knowledge and reasoning. As we enter the world of work, and as we climb the ladder of increased responsibility, we will be expected to use our imaginations, our initiative, to bring ideas and schemes to fruition. As we develop this sense of self-reliance and self-confidence we often find ourselves making judgements and decisions based on principles that ignore the needs of others. We find ourselves valuing our judgements before those who know so much more than us. Any innate sense of humility is sacrificed on the altar of self-glorification. As we turn into independent and self-reliant individuals we progressively turn our backs on God.

Today’s reading ends with a clear statement that even Jesus knew that his will was insufficient, all he said and did was done according to the will of his, and our, heavenly Father. We often see Jesus as being in control of the situations created by a flawed religious hierarchy. Jesus’ position, whilst contradicting the self-importance of the Pharisees and the scribes, is always showing us the right path to tread. But, despite the rectitude of Jesus’ words and actions, they are always based in those of God. 

We lay great store by our independence, our right to stand alone. But, that position of isolation distances us from God, it makes us vulnerable to the machinations of the devil. As we journey through Lent we should never forget the way in which it started, with the account of Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness, and Jesus’ strength in setting aside his own will in order that he might remain true to God.

Let us pray that we might be given the strength to set self to one side in order that we might come before our heavenly Father in all humility and submit to his will. Let us pray that we might stand firm in the faith which demands self-sacrifice and self-abasement in order that we might finally be judged worthy of an eternal place in God’s nearer presence.