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When the priests in Jerusalem accused Jesus of “making Himself equal with God” in John 5:18, Jesus began His explanation in verse 19 with “Amen, Amen.” There is no indication that the priests had adjured Jesus to testify, but nonetheless, He treated their question as if He were under oath in court. The relevant law is found in Leviticus 5:1,
1 Now if a person sins, after he hears a public adjuration to testify, when he is a witness, whether he has seen or otherwise known, if he does not tell it, then he will bear his guilt.
In other words, a public adjuration compels men to testify what they know about a case. They cannot plead a Fifth Amendment right to be silent. For this reason, when Jesus was formally tried before the Sanhedrin, He “kept silent” until He was adjured (Matthew 26:63). Once adjured to testify, Jesus told them the whole truth to give His identity in regard to “whether You are the Christ, the Son of God.” Then Jesus not only confirmed it, but He gave them the full truth that He would be the One “sitting at the right hand of Power (Psalm 110:1) and coming on the clouds of heaven” (Matthew 26:64; Daniel 7:13).
Why did He break His silence? Because Leviticus 5:1 said that to refuse to testify when adjured was a sin. Jesus could not violate the law of public adjuration.
Today in our courts of law (USA), the witnesses take an oath, saying, “I do.” God’s law uses the term “Amen, Amen.” The Hebrew word Amen means “truly,” and when used twice is an emphatic oath to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth. For this reason, the remainder of the fifth chapter of John should be taken as Jesus’ testimony in court about His relationship with His heavenly Father. This relates directly to the first few verses of John’s gospel, where he speaks of the Logos being “with God” and “God” (without the definite article, “the”).
Father and Son Raise the Dead
As we will see, Jesus’ testimony in John 5:19-47 is lengthy, and yet He says nothing about the Trinity, nor does He claim equal authority with His Father. As always, He remains subject to His Father and claims only to be a perfect Son in the image of His Father. In verse 19 He claimed to do whatever He saw His Father doing. In verse 20 He stated that “the Father loves the Son and shows Him all things that He Himself is doing.”
In other words, Jesus conducted His life according to the revelation of His Father, and because the Father loves the Son, He shows the Son what He is doing, so that the Son has the ability to manifest the glory of the Father in the earth. Jesus then alluded to “greater works” that He would be doing in the days ahead. John 5:21 says,
21 For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son also gives life to whom He wishes [thelo, “wills”].
This is the prime example of the Son doing the will (thelo) of the Father. Thelo is the verb form of the noun, thelema. The Father raises the dead, so the Son does so as well. First of all, when one is baptized, he or she symbolically dies to the old life and the old self and is raised to newness of life (Romans 6:4, 5). John 5:22, 23 continues,
22 For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son, 23 so that all may honor the Son, even as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.
Here we see that the Father has delegated “all judgment to the Son.” Hence, the Father is doing the judgment through the agency of His Son. This is how we are to interpret Daniel 7:11-14,
10 I kept looking until thrones were set up, and the Ancient of Days took His seat… 13 I kept looking in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven One like a Son of Man was coming, and He came up to the Ancient of Days and was presented before Him. 14 And to Him was given dominion, glory, and a kingdom….
First we see “thrones” (plural) being set up in the divine court. In Revelation 20:4, John writes, “And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given to them.” He then tells us that these thrones are for the overcomers who will reign with Christ (Revelation 20:6).
Yet when Daniel “kept looking in the night visions,” he saw “One like a Son of Man” coming to the Ancient of Days. The Ancient of Days is the Father, and the One coming with the clouds of heaven is “One like a Son of Man.” When Jesus was adjured by the high priest at His trial, this is the prophecy that He claimed for Himself (Matthew 26:64).
The purpose of presenting the “Son of Man” to the “Ancient of Days” is to delegate all authority for judgment to the Son, as Jesus said in John 5:22. To dishonor the Son, then, is to dishonor the Father, the Ancient of Days. It is mandatory that all men respect the authority of the Son and treat Him as the authorized agent of the Father. To do so, Jesus said in John 5:24, will result in “eternal life.”
24 Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life [Life in the Age], and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.
Later in the chapter, Jesus will distinguish between the two resurrections that are a thousand years apart (Revelation 20:5). But in verse 24 above, Jesus focuses upon “he who hears My word and believes Him.” These are given Life in the Age. In other words, they will be raised in the “first resurrection” (as John calls it in Revelation 20:5), so that they receive “life” (immortality) at the beginning of that Age and may enjoy it throughout the Age.
These are the overcomers. Having been raised in the first resurrection, they will not need to be raised at the end of that Age when the general resurrection takes place. Neither will they “come into judgment.” That is, they will not be judged at the Great White Throne with the rest of humanity. Instead, they will be given “thrones” and the authority as agents of the Son of Man to participate and assist in the judgment of the world. We might think of the overcomers as a jury in the divine court. They qualify because they too have the mind of Christ and are in agreement with Him and His laws.