February 19 – John 5:19-29


Main focus: Here we see the mission of the Son is to do the Father’s work, to accomplish redemption and one day sit in judgment over all.

Last week we looked at the Son pre-incarnate; this week we look at him incarnate. By turning to that tile, Son, we’ll have an opportunity like we had a few weeks ago with the title Father to ask, why does God use this name to describe the second member of the Trinity? In John 5 and Philippians 2 we’ll see that Jesus’s role as Son highlights his sent-ness, his fulfillment of the Father’s mission rather than his own, as well as his humble submission to the Father’s will.  We’ll then wrap up discussion looking at what Jesus’s role means for our lives.

All the names and titles of the members of the Trinity are burgeoningly intentional, so when speaking of the second member of the Trinity, Son is not merely a relevant descriptor following Jesus’s incarnation, as if he had to first be born as a human before he could be called the Son of God. Instead, Son helps us grasp something of the inter-trinitarian relationship prior to creation and the incarnation. In the High Priestly Prayer, Jesus prayed, “Father, glorify me…with the glory that I had with you before the world existed,” and “Father…you loved me before the foundation of the world” (John 17:4, 24).

Particularly in this context, we have to conclude that Jesus intends the terms Son and Father to communicate something about the essential, eternal nature of God. As mind-boggling as it is for Jesus to be “begotten, not made”, as the Nicene Creed outs it, this helps us understand that the internal relationship of the Trinity is mutual love and affection, the Father willing and the Son delighting to do what is willed, the Son glorifying the Father and the Father delighting to glorify the Son. 

But the title Son also relates to God’s work in time through salvation, which is itself patterned off the internal relationship of the Trinity. For example, God the Son is eternally begotten of the Father, in some sense both uncreated and ‘from,’ and thus is temporally sent from the Father to do the Father’s work. Here in John 5:19-29, Jesus gives us a kind of job description for that work—he came to accomplish redemption and give life to whom he will (5:21), and to one day sit in judgment over all souls (5:22). In an overarching sense, Jesus came to do the Father’s bidding in order to make the Father known (5:19; cf. 17:25-26).

Also, in discussion we’ll touch on Jesus’s mention of judgment and resurrection briefly, primarily because we tend to overlook the former. But, according to Jesus, judgment is part and parcel with his mission; he cannot save anyone if there isn’t something from which they must be saved. 

We’ll also use this passage to discuss how Jesus’s son-ness affects the way we relate to him; by emptying himself and coming down to our level, we can know with confidence that we have access to God for finding mercy; that God’s love is so great he would willingly condescend to become like us, the master becoming the servant of his own creation; and that in Jesus our elder brother we have a high priest who can sympathize with us in our weakness.

As Paul finishes in Philippians 2:12-13, Jesus’s humble service provides a way for salvation but, more than that, is meant to lead us somewhere. Under this banner of Jesus’s Sonhood we’ll wrap up our discussion by considering what it means for us to be children of God following in the footsteps of our elder brother, walking in the example of his humble service and growing in our likeness to him.

We’ll then turn to Philippians 2 to focus in on Jesus’s sonly role as a servant. Here we see his equality with the Father and his self-emptying act of incarnation—the Athanasian Creed describes him as “equal to the Father as regards divinity, less than the Father as regards humanity.” The vision of our savior in this passage, humbly submitted to the Father and subsequently exalted in grandeur over all creation, should challenge any two-dimensional views we have of him and lead us to worship our servant sovereign. 

Questions for Discussion

• Could someone read John 5:19-29 for us?

• What stood out to you from the passage?

• Based on this passage, what is the job description of the Son of God?

• Why do you think Jesus brings up judgment and resurrection?

• Could someone read Philippians 2:1-13 for us?

• How does this passage add to our understanding of Jesus’s role?

• How might Jesus’s son-ness influence your relationship with him?

• According to this passage, what does Jesus’s example have to do with our lives?

• In what ways do you want God to grow you in practicing Jesus’s sort of servant humility?