‘The Apprentice’ who never gets fired – 4th Week of Lent, Wednesday
John 5: 17- 30
You are listening to Christology from the very lips of Jesus, not some theologian. Jesus is discussing His equality with the Father and He does this in a number of places in the gospels. It is this teaching, combined with His healing of the cripple on the Sabbath, that triggers off the plot to kill Jesus (verse 18).
In this pericope, we see two sections describing the activity of the Son; namely that He ‘gives life’ and He ‘judges’. It is through Jesus that one goes to the Father. He is not only the ‘true agent of the Father’ (JBC), but He is also an excellent ‘apprentice’! All through his gospel in 7:18, 8:28 and 14:10, John will tell us that Jesus never acts on His own authority, but only on what He hears from the Father.
It is the mission of Jesus, mandated by the Father, to ‘give life’ to those who believe. But there will also be those who refuse to believe, like the Jewish authorities, and they will find themselves under judgment. So while Jesus, in humility, presents Himself as the ‘apprentice’, He undoubtedly is equal in purpose, performance, power and praise with the Father.
He is equal in purpose when He tells us that “His Father is still working and so is He”. He is equal in performance when He says, “The Father loves the Son and shows him all that He is doing”. He is equal in power when He says, “Indeed, just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whomever He wishes.” He is equal in praise when He says, “So that all may honour the Son just as they honour the Father.”
And yet He is the humble apprentice before His Father for He can do “nothing on His own except what He sees the Father doing (verse 20)”. So what’s our take away from all of this? Christ is calling us to imitate Him. We are called to imitate Him like a humble apprentice.
St. Paul, writing to the Philippians, pens down what seems to be the oldest Christological hymn in honour of Christ. In it, he calls us to have this humble ‘apprentice- like’ mind of Jesus.
“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross.
Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, 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” – Philippians 2:5-11.
May these words, which form an integral part of the liturgy of Good Friday, transform us to be ‘apprentices’ in the sight of God.
Written on behalf of the Holy Spirit- References from the Jerome Biblical Commentary.
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