Wednesday, March 9, 2016

The Promise of Resurrection



The Gospel Reading for March 9th

John 5:17-30 ~ The Authority of Jesus Christ to Raise the Dead
17 Jesus answered the Jews: “My Father is at work until now, so I am at work.” 18 For this reason they tried all the more to kill him, because he not only broke the Sabbath but he also called God his own father, making himself equal to God. 19 Jesus answered and said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, the Son cannot do anything on his own, but only what he sees the Father doing; for what he does, the Son will do also. 20 For the Father loves the Son and shows him everything that he himself does, and he will show him greater works than these, so that you may be amazed. 21 For just as the Father raises the dead and gives life, so also does the Son give life to whomever he wishes. 22 Nor does the Father judge anyone, but he has given all judgment to the Son, 23 so 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 Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes in the one who sent me has eternal life and will not come to condemnation, but has passed from death to life. 25 Amen, amen, I say to 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. 26 For just as the Father has life in himself, so also he gave to the Son the possession of life in himself. 27 And he gave him power to exercise judgment, because he is the Son of Man. 28 Do not be amazed at this, because the hour is coming in which all who are in the tombs will hear his voice 29 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. 30 I cannot do anything on my own; I judge as I hear, and my judgment is just, because I do not seek my own will but the will of the one who sent me.”

The Jewish authorities are enraged that Jesus called God His Father, and they also criticize Him for healing on the Sabbath, which they consider breaking the Sabbath restriction concerning doing no work. Putting his answer in human terms his audience can understand, Jesus compares Himself to a son who imitates his father to learn his father’s trade skills. Jesus is the apprentice of Yahweh, learning by observation and imitation the skills of the Father and by obedience to all He hears from the Father (5:19-21). Jesus’ point is that God works on the Sabbath and those who have been anointed by God are not bound by the Sabbath restrictions because they are fulfilling the will of God. By calling God His Father Jesus is claiming the status of divine son-ship for Himself. He is declaring Himself equal with God for although the Son is less than the Father in His humanity (Jn 14:28), and He is equal to God the Father in His divinity (Jn 10:33; CCC# 253-54).

Jesus’ dialogue in John 5:19-47 is the most complete explanation of God the Son’s relationship to God the Father in the Gospels. Part I includes verses 19-30 in which Jesus addresses both the equity and the distinction between the Father and the Son. God the Father and God the Son are equal: all the Son’s power and authority comes from the Father. In verse 21 Jesus is talking about the nature of the works that He has seen the Father do and which He is doing. The two “works” mentioned in these verses are raising the dead and judgment. Now we can understand the reason why Jesus gave life to the royal official’s son in 4:46-54. It was a “sign” of the life from above that He can truly give because the Father has empowered Him to give life. The connection between the healing of the paralyzed man (5:1-15) and the order to stop sinning (verse 14) is the connection between the greater, eternal death that sin can bring and Jesus’ power over sin to forgive and grant life. The second of the works (verses 22-23) is the power to judge sin. The power over life and death is the power of Christ the judge. Jesus is the supreme judge of the Last Days of mankind (see Jn 5:36-20; Mt 25:31-46; and Rom 2:5-10). For each of us the struggle over life and death begins in this life with the choices we make with respect to belief in Jesus Christ and all that He taught.

24 “Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes in the one who sent me has eternal life and will not come to condemnation, but has passed from death to life.” In verse 24 Jesus gives the second of His three times double “amen” in the dialogue. A double “amen” announces an emphatic statement. Under the Old Covenant the penalty for disobedience to the Law was to be condemned to the curses of covenant failure (see Gen 3:14-16; Lev 26:14-45; Dt 28:15-68; 30:15-20). The earth was already under the curse from the original fall of Adam and Eve. But now through Christ we are provided a spiritual transfer from the curses of the Covenant with Adam and the curses against the failure of Israel to uphold the Sinai Covenant to the blessings of the New Covenant in Christ which were enumerated by Jesus in the Sermon of the Mount (Mt chapters 5-7). Christ has rescued us from the fallen family of Adam, and He has reinstated us in the covenant unity of the divine family of God the Father (see Eph 2:1-5; Rom 5:12-21; CCC# 580, 1470). He is able to do this because the Father has turned over to Him the power of salvific judgment, which in the previous covenants was the prerogative of God. This power that the Father has given the Son should cause men to honor the Son and to recognize His relationship to the Father.

The positive side of Jesus’ power to judge is the judgment on behalf of those who believe in Him to receive the gift of eternal salvation. But the negative side of Jesus’ power to judge is that His judgment is at the same time a condemnation of those who refuse the Son. Verse 24 reemphasizes the eschatological message of this Gospel. Judgment, condemnation, and passing from death to life (verse 24) are all part of that “hour” (verse 28) which Jesus tells them in this discourse is now here (verses 25 and 28). The Son has been given authority by the Father to “judge the living and the dead” (Nicene Creed) and to decide each man and woman’s eternal destiny (Mt 25:31-46; Acts 10:42 and CCC# 679). The third double “amen” is in verse 25 as Jesus refers to Himself as “the Son of Man.” Each time this title is used it refers back to the vision of the Messiah as the kingly judge of all nations in the Book of Daniel 7:13-14.

28 “Do not be amazed at this, because the hour is coming …” There are two dimensions to the “hour” of Jesus. One meaning is connected to His Passion and the other to the liturgical life of His Bride, the Church. The gift to the Father of the sacrifice of Christ on the cross cannot be divided from the sacramental gift of Christ to His Church in the Eucharist.

28b “… in which all who are in the tombs will hear his voice 29 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. ” Christ has been given the power and authority to raise all men and women from death—both the saints and the sinners (Acts 24:15). This future event in the Last Days” at the end of time was prophesized by the prophets Daniel (Dan 12:2) and Ezekiel (Ez 37:1-4) and by St. Paul (1 Thes 4:16). In Daniel’s vision he sees the final separation of the righteous and the unrighteous once their bodies have been awakened from death. Ezekiel has a vision where he is commanded to speak to piles of bones and when he speaks flesh is joined to the bones and the bodies rise and are made to live again. Jesus is the supernatural Son of Man whose voice raises the dead from their graves (Jn 5:28) and who will separate those who come forth to life everlasting from those who come forth to judgment eternally (Mt 25:31-46; Jn 15:29; CCC# 997-1001, 1038).
Michal E. Hunt Copyright © 2016

“Do not be amazed at this, because the hour is coming in which all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and will come out."

(All tombs are not physical, and the hour has come..."the Kingdom of God is at hand" Mark1:15. Now.)