When Jesus healed a paralytic at the Sheep Gate in Jerusalem (Jn 5:1-18), the Jews questioned him for healing on a Sabbath and asking the healed person to carry his mat, both of which were considered a violation of the Sabbath. Another accusation was that Jesus “called God his own father, making himself equal to God” (Jn 5:18). That was blasphemy for Jews. So, Jesus defends himself by elaborating on his intimate relationship with his Father. Both the Father and the Son give life to the spiritually dead and raise the dead to life on the last day. The Father has entrusted to His Son the authority to judge all. Jesus assures eternal life to all who hear his word and believe in the Father. At the last judgement, the righteous will enjoy eternal life and evildoers will be condemned.
The Authority of the Son
(Jn 5:19) Jesus said to them, “Truly, I assure you, the Son cannot do anything by himself, but only what he sees his Father doing. And whatever he does, the Son also does. (20) The Father loves the Son and shows him everything he does; and he will show him even greater things than these, so that you will be amazed. (21) As the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so the Son gives life to whom he chooses. (22) In the same way the Father judges no one, but he has entrusted all judgement to the Son, (23) and he wants all to honour the Son as they honour the Father. Whoever does not honour the Son, does not honour the Father who sent him. (24) Truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me, has eternal life; and there is no judgement for him because he has passed from death to life. (25) Truly, the hour is coming and has indeed come, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. (26) For the Father has life in himself, and, he has given to the Son also to have life in himself. (27) And he has empowered him as well to carry out judgement, for he is the Son of Man. (28) Do not be surprised at this; the hour is coming when all those lying in tombs will hear his voice (29) and come out; those who have done good shall rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned.
The gospel of John gives a series of seven signs of Jesus’ self-revelation as the Son of God. Jesus’ discourse after the third sign is what we review here. The first was the transformation of water into wine at Cana in Galilee (Jn 2:1–11). Next was the cure of the royal official’s son (Jn 4:46-54). The third sign was the cure of a paralytic at a pool called the Sheep Gate in Jerusalem (Jn 5:118). He was sick for 38 years. Instead of glorifying God for such a miracle through Jesus and acknowledging him as the Messiah, the Jews found fault with Jesus and attempted to kill him. The reasons were:
(1) The healing was on a Sabbath, a violation of the Sabbath observance (Jn 5:9).
(2) Jesus asked the man to carry his mat, which was also prohibited on the Sabbath (Jn 5:8)
(3) When the Jews questioned Jesus, he answered them, “My Father is at work until now, so I am at work” (Jn 5:17). This was a more serious offence because he “called God his own father, making himself equal to God” (Jn 5:18).
Hence, in the following verses, Jesus defended himself by expounding his relationship with his Father.
(Jn 5:19) Jesus said to them, “Truly, I assure you, the Son cannot do anything by himself, but only what he sees his Father doing. And whatever he does, the Son also does.”
Jesus said to them
Jesus answered the Jews who tried to kill him for violating the Sabbath observance and presenting God as his father. Equating oneself with God was blasphemy. However, Jesus asserted his unique relationship with the Father in heaven.
Truly, I assure you
Jesus often used such a phrase to affirm the importance of what he was to say next.
The Son cannot do anything by himself, but only what he sees his Father doing
John starts his gospel stating, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (Jn 1:1). When we substitute ‘Word’ with ‘Jesus’, we get, “In the beginning was Jesus, and Jesus was with God, and Jesus was God.” John continues, “He was in the beginning with God. All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be” (Jn 2:3). So, God brought creation into existence through his Son, the Word. The Son undertook the will of his Father and did nothing independently (Jn 5:30).
The miracles Jesus did were manifestations of the glory of God. Though others had worked miracles on God’s behalf, none had ever performed as many miracles as Jesus did. Hence, Jesus said, “If I do not perform my Father’s works, do not believe me; but if I perform them, even if you do not believe me, believe the works, so that you may realize [and understand] that the Father is in me and I am in the Father” (Jn 10:37-38).
And whatever he does, the Son also does
Jesus demonstrated several times how he embodies the Father.
1. To the Pharisees who questioned Jesus, “‘Where is your father?’ Jesus answered, ‘You know neither me nor my Father. If you knew me, you would know my Father also’” (Jn 8:19).
2. “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will realize that I am He, and that I do nothing on my own, but I say only what the Father taught me. The one who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone, because I always do what is pleasing to him” (Jn 8:28-29).
3. “The Father and I are one” (Jn 10:30).
4. “Whoever believes in me believes not only in me but also in the one who sent me, and whoever sees me sees the one who sent me” (Jn 12:44-45).
5. “I did not speak on my own, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and speak. And I know that his commandment is eternal life. So what I say, I say as the Father told me” (Jn 12:49-50).
6. At the Last Supper, Jesus told his disciples, “If you know me, then you will also know my Father. From now on you do know him and have seen him” (Jn 14:7).
7. Jesus said to Philip, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on my own. The Father who dwells in me is doing his works. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else, believe because of the works themselves” (Jn 14:9-11).
8. Jesus told his disciples, “The word you hear is not mine but that of the Father who sent me” (Jn 14:24).
The divine sonship of Jesus differs from that of faithful humans. He is the second person of the Most Holy Trinity and so share the essence of God. “The Incarnation of God’s Son reveals that God is the eternal Father and that the Son is consubstantial with the Father, which means that, in the Father and with the Father the Son is one and the same God” (CCC-262). That was unclear to the Jews.
Jesus is one with the Father from eternity and does the will of the Father without fail. The Son’s interest and actions are in congruence with that of the Father and so they are in perfect harmony. Though the incarnation of the Redeemer was revealed several times during the Old Testament period, it was not clear until Jesus came and disclosed himself. Many accepted him as the Messiah, while some rejected and opposed him.
(20) The Father loves the Son and shows him everything he does; and he will show him even greater things than these, so that you will be amazed.
The Father loves the Son
God the Father expressed His love for His Son at the time of his baptism in the River Jordan, to which John the Baptist was a witness – “A voice came from the heavens, saying, ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased’” (Mt 3:17). Peter, James, and John had a similar experience at the transfiguration of Jesus on a mountain – “While he (Peter) was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud cast a shadow over them, then from the cloud came a voice that said, ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him’” (Mt 17:5).
And shows him everything he does
God the Father has nothing to hide from his son. “The Father loves the Son and has given everything over to him” (Jn 3:35).
He will show him even greater things than these
The miracles of Jesus were to help those who were suffering, to manifest the glory of God, and to reveal that Jesus was the Messiah. The present discourse of Jesus was after the third miracle out of seven specially selected miracles John the Evangelist documented in his gospel. The first three miracles are:
1. The transformation of water into wine at Cana in Galilee (Jn 2:1-11).
2. The cure of the royal official’s son (Jn 4:46-54).
3. The cure of a paralytic at the pool in Jerusalem called Sheep Gate (Jn 5:1-18).
After these, John documents the following miracles greater than the previous ones:
4. Feeding the 5000 with five barley loaves and two fish (Jn 6:5-14).
5. Walking on the water in the lake (Jn 6:16-21).
6. Healing the man blind from birth (Jn 9:1-18).
7. The raising of Lazarus (Jn 11:1-45).
The greatest of all the miracles was Jesus’ resurrection from the dead on the third day, followed by his appearance to many. Peter spoke, “We are witnesses of all that he did both in the country of the Jews and (in) Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree. This man God raised (on) the third day and granted that he be visible, not to all the people, but to us, the witnesses chosen by God in advance, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead” (Acts 10:39-41).
So that you will be amazed
Each miracle Jesus performed was amazing for the public. That made many to believe that Jesus was the Messiah and follow him. “The crowds were amazed when they saw the mute speaking, the deformed made whole, the lame walking, and the blind able to see, and they glorified the God of Israel” (Mt 15:31). There were many similar instances when the people expressed their amazement at the miracles of Jesus.
When the disciples of Jesus also healed the sick, onlookers expressed amazement. Peter healed a crippled beggar at the gate of the temple called “the Beautiful Gate”. The people who came to know this, “were filled with amazement and astonishment at what had happened to him” (Acts 3:10).
(21) As the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so the Son gives life to whom he chooses.
Father raises the dead and gives them life
Everyone born in the world has to die physically because death came into the world by the original sin (Rom 5:12). The Father will raise them to another life of joy or sorrow based on their response to the Word of God. Though the common resurrection and judgement will happen at the second coming of Christ, God raised many through his representatives to extend their lifespan. The power of raising the dead is a high attribute of divinity that God shared with His prophets, His Son Jesus, and the apostles of Jesus. They are:
1. Elijah raised the widow of Zarephath’s son. “The LORD heard the prayer of Elijah; the life breath returned to the child’s body and he lived” (1 Kgs 17:22).
2. Elisha raised a Shunammite woman’s son from the dead (2 Kgs 4:18-37).
3. A man was buried in the grave of Elisha. When his corpse came in contact with Elisha’s bones, he came back to life (2 Kgs 13:20-21).
4. Jesus raised the son of the widow of Naim (Lk 7:11–17).
5. Jesus raised the young daughter of a synagogue official named Jairus (Lk 8:40-56).
6. The greatest miracle of Jesus was the raising of Lazarus four days after his burial (Jn 11:1-44).
7. At Jesus’ death on the cross, “The earth quaked, rocks were split, tombs were opened, and the bodies of many saints who had fallen asleep were raised” (Mt 27:51-53).
8. Peter raised Tabitha after her death in the coastal city of Joppa (Acts 9:36-42).
9. Paul raised a young man named Eutychus who died, falling down from the ledge of a window of the third storey where he had fallen asleep, listening to the late-night talk of Paul (Acts 20:7-12).
10. Jesus rose from the dead. That differed from all others because he will not die anymore. Those whom the prophets, Jesus, or the apostles raised from the dead, died again. The resurrection of Jesus is the assurance of our eternal life. “But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a human being, the resurrection of the dead came also through a human being. For just as in Adam all die, so too in Christ shall all be brought to life, but each one in proper order: Christ the first fruits; then, at his coming, those who belong to Christ; then comes the end, when he hands over the kingdom to his God and Father, when he has destroyed every sovereignty and every authority and power” (1 Cor 15:20-24).
The Son gives life to whom he chooses
Father will raise all who have died, and the Son will give eternal life to those who obey him. At the death of Lazarus, Jesus told Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live” (Jn 11:25-26). The life Jesus offers is a spiritual life in this world and the eternal joy in the life after. Thus, there are two types of resurrection: a spiritual one from sin while alive and a resurrection after death.
The conversion of sinners is the new life in Jesus that is necessary for eternal life. That was the goal of his incarnation. Jesus said to Nicodemus, “Amen, amen, I say to you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above” (Jn 3:3). We regain our life of grace through baptism. “Baptism is birth into the new life in Christ. In accordance with the Lord’s will, it is necessary for salvation, as is the Church herself, which we enter by Baptism” (CCC-1277).
(22) In the same way the Father judges no one, but he has entrusted all judgement to the Son.
The Father does not judge anyone directly but through his Son, whom he sent to redeem the world. Thus, Jesus received from his Father the authority to judge humanity. Peter said of Jesus, “He commissioned us to preach to the people and testify that he is the one appointed by God as judge of the living and the dead” (Acts 10:42). He deserves it because he is the Son of Man (Jn 5:27). It is the Father who judges through his son. Paul spoke to the Athenians at the Areopagus, “God has overlooked the times of ignorance, but now he demands that all people everywhere repent because he has established a day on which he will ‘judge the world with justice’ through a man he has appointed, and he has provided confirmation for all by raising him from the dead” (Acts 17:30-31).
Judgement in the Biblical sense is not just rewarding or punishing a person, but administration. “The Hebrew term shofet, which is translated into English as ‘judge,’ is closer in meaning to a ‘ruler,’ a kind of military leader or deliverer from potential or actual defeat” (https://www.britannica.com/topic/biblicalliterature/Judges-importance-and-role). Thus, there were several judges in Israel before they had kings. Those judges saved Israel from their enemies and governed the people on behalf of God.
The Father sharing His authority to govern humanity is a consideration of His equality with the Son. Paul wrote to Philippians, “Though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross” (Phil 2:6-8).
(23) and he wants all to honour the Son as they honour the Father. Whoever does not honour the Son, does not honour the Father who sent him.
He wants all to honour the Son as they honour the Father
God the Father acknowledged the sonship and appreciation of Jesus at the River Jordan immediately after his baptism (Mt 3:17) and at the transfiguration on a mountain in the presence of Peter, James, and John. God instructed the three apostles to listen to Jesus (Mt 17:5). Paul presents Jesus worthy of worship because God exalted him above everyone else – “God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil 2:9-11).
When Pharoah appointed Joseph in Egypt he said, “‘You shall be in charge of my household, and all my people will obey your command. Only in respect to the throne will I outrank you.’ Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘Look, I put you in charge of the whole land of Egypt.’ With that, Pharaoh took off his signet ring and put it on Joseph’s finger. He dressed him in robes of fine linen and put a gold chain around his neck. He then had him ride in his second chariot, and they shouted ‘Abrek!’ before him. Thus was Joseph installed over the whole land of Egypt. ‘I am Pharaoh,’ he told Joseph, ‘but without your approval no one shall lift hand or foot in all the land of Egypt’” (Gen 41:40-44). The people in Egypt were bound to respect Joseph as they had been doing to Pharoah. Jesus came as a representative of God, sharing his power and doing the will of the Father. He said, “I came down from heaven not to do my own will but the will of the one who sent me” (Jn 6:38).
To honour (kavod) in Hebrew means to give weight, respect, reverence, prominence, or glory. It has a similar meaning in Greek as well. God commanded that we honour our parents by obeying, respecting, and supporting them because they take part in God’s creation, protection, and provision for children. Honouring God through Jesus is also similar, but with more weight.
Jesus obeyed his earthly parents when he was young (Lk 2:51). He honoured his heavenly Father throughout his ministry (Phil 2:8-9). Paul advised Christians to have the same attitude of humility and obedience that Jesus had towards his Father (Phil 2:5). When obeying and respecting Jesus, we are honouring God the Father as well.
Whoever does not honour the Son, does not honour the Father who sent him
The elite Jews in Jerusalem dishonoured and killed Jesus, as their forefathers had done to the prophets of yore. Jesus lamented saying, “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how many times I yearned to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her young under her wings, but you were unwilling! Behold, your house will be abandoned, desolate” (Mt 23:37-38). By persecuting the prophets and Jesus, they dishonoured the Father who sent them. Hence, John wrote, “No one who denies the Son has the Father, but whoever confesses the Son has the Father as well” (1 Jn 2:23). So, without honouring and worshipping Jesus, we cannot do the same to God the Father. Through Jesus, we are respecting and obeying the Father who sent him.
(24) Truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me, has eternal life; and there is no judgement for him because he has passed from death to life.
Truly, I say to you
As usual, Jesus emphasizes the certainty and importance of the spiritual truth to follow.
Whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me, has eternal life
Besides normal listening, hearing the word of God can imply several meanings:
1. A deep understanding of what one speaks: When the disciples asked Jesus why he was speaking to the public in parables he answered quoting Isaiah, “they look but do not see and hear but do not listen or understand” (Mt 13:13). They ignored what Jesus taught because their interest was in witnessing the miracles he worked and obtaining favours from him, or they came with a negative attitude.
2. To attend favourably or obey: When God hears the prayer of the faithful, He helps them. “The righteous cry out, the LORD hears, and he rescues them from all their afflictions” (Ps 34:18). But people were not honouring the teachings of the prophets or of Jesus. “Oh, that today you would hear his voice: Do not harden your hearts as at Meribah, as on the day of Massah in the desert” (Ps 95:7-8).
Listening to and obeying the Word of God is essential to inheriting eternal life. Jesus taught, “My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish. No one can take them out of my hand” (Jn 10:27-28).
Whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me, has eternal life
Besides listening to Jesus’ words, one should have faith in God who sent Jesus. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life” (Jn 3:16). Faith in Jesus and his Father is essential to inherit eternal life. Baptism, reception of the Holy Eucharist, and keeping the commandments of God make one eligible for eternal life while alive in the present world. John presents the attainment of eternal life for the readers as his purpose for documenting his gospel and letters. “I write these things to you so that you may know that you have eternal life, you who believe in the name of the Son of God” (1 Jn 5:13).
Jesus assured his disciples in his farewell speech, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God; have faith also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be” (Jn 14:1-3). eternal life
God created everything in the universe for the sake of us, humans, whom he created in his own image and likeness with an immortal soul. Death in this world is the separation of soul from body. Though the body would decay, everyone will face a particular judgement followed by a stage of reward or punishment until the Second Coming of Christ when the Last Judgement will take place. This intermediate stage is clear from the story of the Rich Man and Lazarus and the words of Jesus to the good thief on the cross. “Each man receives his eternal retribution in his immortal soul at the very moment of his death, in a particular judgement that refers his life to Christ: either entrance into the blessedness of heaven – through a purification or immediately, – or immediate and everlasting damnation” (CCC-1022).
At the Second Coming of Christ, all who have died will rise and will face the Last Judgement, as Jesus describes in Matthew 25:31-46. “In death, the separation of the soul from the body, the human body decays and the soul goes to meet God, while awaiting its reunion with its glorified body. God, in his almighty power, will definitively grant incorruptible life to our bodies by reuniting them with our souls, through the power of Jesus’ Resurrection” (CCC-997).
Eternal life refers to a continued life after death without time constraint. The Apostles’ Creed includes belief in the body’s resurrection and life everlasting. “All the dead will rise, ‘those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of judgement’” (CCC-998). Jesus assured eternal life for those who hear his word and believe in God the Father who sent Jesus as the Messiah.
Though the Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection of the dead (Mt 22:23) and the immortality of the soul, the Pharisees and the Scribes did believed in the same. A scholar of the law once asked Jesus, “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” (Lk 10:25). Jesus made him answer from the scripture, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbour as yourself” (Lk 10:27). Jesus then presented the parable of the Good Samaritan as a role model for charity to inherit eternal life.
A rich young man asked Jesus, “Teacher, what good must I do to gain eternal life?” (Mt 19:16) Jesus asked him to keep the commandments. Then he added, “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to [the] poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me” (Mt 19:21). Jesus told the apostles, “Everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands for the sake of my name will receive a hundred times more, and will inherit eternal life” (Mt 19:29).
Jesus established the Holy Eucharist as the food of eternal life. “This is the bread that comes down from heaven so that one may eat it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world” (Jn 6:50-51).
At the death of Lazarus, Martha expressed her faith in the life after death, viz. resurrection: “I know he will rise, in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die” (Jn 11:2426). So, faith in Jesus and the life with him will lead us to a life of eternal joy even after our death.
There is no judgement for him because he has passed from death to life
Each listener of the word of God selects his or her own judgement based on their response to the Word – “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him will not be condemned, but whoever does not believe has already been condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God” (Jn 3:17-18).
There is no judgement for him because he has passed from death to life
We all are born spiritually dead because of Original Sin and sin causes death (Eph 2:1). Only through baptism do we pass from spiritual death to a new life. Jesus told Nicodemus, “Amen, amen, I say to you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. What is born of flesh is flesh and what is born of spirit is spirit” (Jn 3:5-6). “Through Baptism we are freed from sin and reborn as sons of God; we become members of Christ, are incorporated into the Church and made sharers in her mission: ‘Baptism is the sacrament of regeneration through water in the word’” (CCC-1213).
This passage from death to life is of one’s own voluntary choice and not out of compulsion on the part of anybody whatsoever. Jesus has opened the gates of heaven (CCC-637). It is the choice of each individual to listen to and obey Jesus, believe in the Father, and accept baptism in water and the Spirit. They enable us to pass from spiritual death to eternal life through the Church Jesus established.
(25) Truly, the hour is coming and has indeed come, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.
Again, Jesus emphasizes the importance of the statement that follows, emphasizing the authority of his own word.
the hour is coming and has indeed come
The time of salvation with the potential eternal reward had happened for those who accepted the gospel of Jesus and united with him. The same would happen for those who are going to receive him from the day of Pentecost with the inauguration of the Church and anointing of the Holy Spirit. Though the particular judgement immediately after death and the Last Judgement at the Second Coming of Christ will come in the future, the hour of entry into eternal life had begun with Jesus’ ministry.
when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live
The ‘dead’ in this context are not the physically deceased, but the spiritually dead. They had heard or will hear the voice of the Son of God, Jesus. The public ministry that commenced with his Baptism and the Baptism in the Holy Spirit that he introduced would provide spiritual life for those who accept his message and practise it.
When the prodigal son returned to his father for reconciliation, the father said of him, “This son of mine was dead, and has come to life again” (Lk 15:24). When our First Parents exited Paradise on account of their sin, they lost the benefit of a direct connection with God and so spiritually died. Humanity regained life when Jesus reconciled us with his Father.
when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live
Everything was created with God’s Word that later became flesh according to John (Jn 1:1-14). So, the voice of the Son of God is powerful. When Jesus raised the daughter of Jairus, “He took the child by the hand and said to her, ‘Talitha koum,’ which means, ‘Little girl, I say to you, arise!’ The girl, a child of twelve, arose immediately and walked around” (Mk 5:41-
42). When Jesus restored the life of the son of a widow in Nain, he said to the dead body, “‘Young man, I tell you, arise!’
The dead man sat up and spoke, and Jesus gave him to his mother” (Lk 7:14-15). At the raising of Lazarus on the fourth day of his death, Jesus “cried out in a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out!’ The dead man came out, tied hand and foot with burial bands, his face wrapped in cloth. So Jesus said to them, ‘Untie him and let him go’” (Jn 11:43-44). All this goes to show the power of the voice of God’s son to bring back the life of all the deceased from the graves at his next coming in glory.
The spiritually reborn will die and will hear the voice of the Son of God again at his second coming. “The Lord himself, with a word of command, with the voice of an archangel and with the trumpet of God, will come down from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first” (1 Thess 4:16). Jesus said, “the hour is coming in which all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and will come out, those who have done good deeds to the resurrection of life, but those who have done wicked deeds to the resurrection of condemnation” (Jn 5:28-29).
Thus, there are two hearings of the voice of the Son of God. The first one is for those physically alive to rise from a sinful death to a spiritual life through a baptism of water and the Spirit (Jn 3:5). The second one will be at the return of the Messiah, to rise from their graves for eternal reward or punishment. Thus, the dead can mean living sinners or those lying in their graves, the voice can be the gospel of Jesus or his last call to life from the graves, and life can be Christian living after baptism or a post resurrection life to eternity.
(26) For the Father has life in himself, and, he has given to the Son also to have life in himself.
God has no creator and has existed from eternity. So, He has life in himself. When Moses asked God His name, He answered, “I am who I am” (Ex 3:14). This is considered as an assertion of God’s self-existence. Psalm 90:2 articulates the eternal existence of God. “Before the mountains were born, the earth and the world brought forth, from eternity to eternity you are God.”
The Son who shares his essence as one among the Most Holy Trinity also shares life in eternity with Him. The Nicene Creed states, “I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son of God, born of the Father before all ages. God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father; through him all things were made.”
(27) And he has empowered him as well to carry out judgement, for he is the Son of Man.
Both terms, ‘Son of Man’ and ‘Son of God’, represent Jesus, denoting his humanity and divinity respectively. The Son of Man gives importance to the incarnation of Jesus as a human. Because “he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross. Because of this, God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil 2:7-11).
So, God the Father, who sent Jesus as the Messiah, empowered him to judge the universe on behalf of the Father. That is why Jesus said, “Nor does the Father judge anyone, but he has given all judgement to his Son, so that all may honour the Son just as they honour the Father” (Jn 5:22-23). Peter preached, “He commissioned us to preach to the people and testify that he is the one appointed by God as judge of the living and the dead” (Acts 10:42).
(28) Do not be surprised at this; the hour is coming when all those lying in tombs will hear his voice (29) and come out; …
When Jesus raised the dead, it was a marvellous experience for the people. At the raising of Jairus’ daughter, the people “were utterly astounded” (Mk 5:42). “And news of this spread throughout all that land” (Mt 9:26). When Jesus raised the widow’s son at Nain, “Fear seized them all, and they glorified God, exclaiming, ‘A great prophet has arisen in our midst,’ and ‘God has visited his people.’ This report about him spread through the whole of Judaea and in all the surrounding region” (Lk 7:16-17). At the resurrection of Lazarus, “Many of the Jews who had come to Mary and seen what he had done began to believe in him” (Jn 11:45).
Though Jesus raised the widow’s son at Nain (Lk 7:11-17) and Jairus’ daughter (Mt 9:18-26; Mk 5:21-43; Lk 8:40-56), it was soon after their respective deaths, whereas the raising of Lazarus (Jn 11:1-44) from the tomb was on the fourth day after his burial. The voice of Jesus could bring them out of their deathbed or tomb. The resurrection of Jesus was even more marvellous, to which the apostles and others were witnesses. These experiences assured them that when Jesus comes again and calls, the dead will rise from their tombs.
At the death of Jesus, “tombs were opened, and the bodies of many saints who had fallen asleep were raised. And coming forth from their tombs after his resurrection, they entered the holy city and appeared to many” (Mt 27:52-53). This was an additional assurance for the disciples of Jesus in believing the resurrection of the body as Jesus had promised. “We firmly believe, and hence we hope that, just as Christ is truly risen from the dead and lives forever, so after death the righteous will live forever with the risen Christ and he will raise them up on the last day. Our resurrection, like his own, will be the work of the Most Holy Trinity” (CCC989).
(29) and come out; those who have done good shall rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned.
The resurrection of the dead is not limited to the righteous followers of Jesus. It will occur to all for reward or punishment. Daniel had prophesied, “Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake; Some to everlasting life, others to reproach and everlasting disgrace” (Dan 12:2). Jesus revealed the concept of universal resurrection. In Matthew 25:31-46, Jesus details the judgement of the nations. “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne, and all the nations will be assembled before him. And he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats” (Mt 25:41-42). He concludes by saying, “And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life” (Mt 25:46). On the basis of Jesus’ teachings, Paul says, “There will be a resurrection of the righteous and the unrighteous” (Acts 24:15).
Paul wrote on the ultimate destiny of the afflicted and those who afflict others. “For it is surely just on God’s part to repay with afflictions those who are afflicting you, and to grant rest along with us to you who are undergoing afflictions, at the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven with his mighty angels, in blazing fire, inflicting punishment on those who do not acknowledge God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. These will pay the penalty of eternal ruin, separated from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his power” (2 Thess 1:6-9).
1. Jesus and his Father have a loving bond of unity. Jesus exemplifies in the Trinitarian relationship the love, understanding, and conformity. Such a relationship of the Most Holy Trinity is an ideal model for families.
2. When we were born, we were spiritually dead because of Original Sin. Jesus gives spiritual birth by baptism in water and Spirit. Let us try to keep our souls alive by avoiding mortal sin and strong by listening to and keeping the word of God.
3. Jesus came to redeem the world. The present time is a period of redemption. Every day in our lives is a God-given opportunity to do good and to recompense for our mistakes. There will come a day when we cannot do these anymore.
4. Jesus has confirmed the resurrection of the dead followed by judgement of the righteous and the evildoers – “Those who have done good shall rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned.” Where will we be if our lives end today?