John 5:8 Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” 9 At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.
Jesus has just performed a miraculous healing. He proceeds to give an explanation regarding how he was able to do it.
John 5:19 …the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing…
He reveals that in doing the miracle he was depending completely upon his Father to show him what to do. Because of this, many believers want to depend upon the Lord to lead them before they undertake anything for His kingdom.
20 For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, to your amazement he will show him even greater things than these.
But there will be even “greater things” to come. What could possibly be greater than the mighty miracles Jesus was doing? For a possible answer, let’s look at the very next verse.
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.
Perhaps Jesus was referring to the authority that the Father would give him. With this authority he could give life to whomever he wished to give it. However with this we find a contradiction with Jesus’ earlier declaration that he could do nothing by himself, but only what he saw his Father doing. If this were true, how could he give life to whomever he chose to give it, even though he had not seen his Father do 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.
Amazingly, Jesus goes on to declare that all judgment had been entrusted by the Father to him, and that the Father would not be passing judgment on anyone. This was so that the Son would be honored equally with the Father.
John 5:26 For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the son to have life in himself.
The pattern continues as Jesus is given the authority to have life in himself, just as the God Almighty Himself.
27 And he has given him authority to judge because he is the Son of Man.
Jesus repeats that the Father has given him authority to judge because he was not only the Son of God, but also the Son of Man who had humbled himself to become a human being and experienced life as a man on earth.
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.
Amazingly, Jesus appears to contradict himself in the above verse. For in verse 22 he said, “Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father.” How do we reconcile this to verse 30 above?
We may not be able to resolve this completely to our satisfaction with earthly logic, for Scripture contains mysteries that will be understood only in heaven. But in the above verses we can unearth some underlying reasons for the apparent conflict. One revolves around the seemingly different goals of the Father on the one hand and the Son on the other. The Father desires that “all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father.” The Son, on the other hand, seeks “not to please myself but him who sent me.” These two different goals result in the apparent contradiction we have discovered. How does this discovery affect our ministry for the gospel?
Like Jesus, we should seek to be balanced. We should seek to be led by the Lord in what we do, yet at the same time recognize that He has given us a measure of authority to do certain things for the sake of the gospel. Being unbalanced in either direction can result in undesirable consequences. If we will not lift a finger until the Lord leads us to do so, there will be a tendency toward inaction because the Lord generally does not lead us in every single matter in life. This inaction on our part can rob God of the glory He deserves to receive through our ministry. There will be situations in which the Lord desires us to move by faith alone in His written word. On the other hand, however, if we fail to seek the Lord’s guidance and rush headlong into every ministry opportunity, we will become exposed to the danger of presumption and wasting time and strength doing things we have not been called to do.
There are commands given in Scripture concerning which we might not need a rhema or a specific word before we obey them. For example, we love our enemies, we forgive those have wronged us, we tithe to our local church without necessarily needing any specific guidance from the Holy Spirit. There are other commands which I believe have nearly the same universal applicability for us: “Preach the gospel, heal the sick, cast out demons, make disciples.” In general, we are to obey such commands “in season and out.” We should not need a specific leading or rhema from the Lord in every instance before we engage in these because they can be considered the general will of God.
There is still other light in which we can consider this balance. When Jesus woke up in the morning, often he would seek His Father in prayer. His attitude would be of humility, helplessness, and complete dependence before the Father: “the Son can do nothing of himself.” But after prayer he would rise and go forth into battle to preach the gospel, heal the sick, and cast out demons. Authority and sovereignty from the Father would rise up from within him; he would heal whatever infirm person he wished and cast out any demon he chose: “Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.’” (Matthew 28:18)
We ministers of the gospel should likewise walk in this balance. There is a time to go before the Lord in complete humility; this “pleases Him who sends us.” (John 5:30) There is also a time to march forward with assurance and boldness to destroy the works of the enemy with powerful weapons. These weapons the Lord Jesus has entrusted to us are far superior to anything the enemy has, and they consist of authority to heal the sick to prove to lost souls that Jesus is indeed the Son of God and that only he can save them. In such a way, “all will honor the Son just as they honor the Father.” (John 5:22)
Obviously, in ourselves, we believers have no absolute sovereignty. But in John 14:12 Jesus says that for the purpose of confirming his identity as the Son of God “anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing…”