John 5:15-47 — Jesus’s relationship with his Father — LeGrand Baker

The Gospel of John is a testimony rather than a history. The Book of Mormon is the same. Their authors selected sermons that taught principles, then stories that reinforced the messages of the sermons. Both follow the encoded pattern of the ancient Israelite temple drama. However, both also follow a chronological order that creates an internal structure like a history. Both begin in the Council in Heaven. John is more obvious: “In the beginning ….” Nephi began by telling about his father’s sode experience “He thought he saw God sitting on his throne….” Then Mormon followed the same formula, using Nephi’s temple drama sequence as an introduction to his own. {1}

John tells the story of Jesus healing the impotent man who sat by the pool on the sabbath day, and then telling the man to “take up thy bed, and walk.” Thereby he broke all the taboos of what the Jews were then attributing to the Law of Moses. They challenged, first the man, and then Jesus. After telling that story, John gives us a very long speech that Jesus delivered to the Jews. At the beginning of the speech we are told,

16 And therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to slay him, because he had done these things on the sabbath day.
17 But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work.
18 Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God (John 5:16-18).

Given their twice expressed determination to kill him, it seems unlikely that they stood around long enough to hear the long speech that follows. But given the purpose and pattern of John’s gospel, this story of Jesus’s defying the irrationality of the Jewish distortions of the Law of the Sabbath is the perfect setting for John’s declaration that Jesus has the authority to do exactly what he has just done.

So what follows is John’s brilliant, virtually comprehensive analysis of the Savior’s eternal relationship/heirship with his Heavenly Father. It does not matter if Jesus said these things at one time to an angry mob, or if this is John’s compilation of what Jesus said on several occasions. John has made his point: Jesus is the Son of God, and his Father has put all authority into his hands.

This is one of those places in the scriptures where breaking it into verses can easily distort the intent of the writer. For that reason I am going to quote it here without the verse interruptions. Where the Joseph Smith Inspired Version is substantially different I will put those in italics and use them instead.

As is true with most scriptures, the key to understand them is to pay attention to the relationships of the ideas as established by in the verbs and conjunctions. I will structure this to emphasize those relationships and bold most conjunctions and some verbs.
Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.

     For the Father loveth the Son, and sheweth him all things that himself doeth: and he will shew him greater works than these, that ye may marvel.
     For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom he will.
     For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son:
     That [so that] all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him.

Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.

Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live.

     For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself;
     and hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man.

Marvel not at this: For the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice,

     and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation. [JST: resurrection of the unjust.]
     And shall all be judged of the Son of man. For as I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just;
     For I can of mine own self do nothing; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father who hath sent me.
     Therefore if I bear witness of myself, yet my witness is true.
     For I am not alone, there is another who beareth witness of me, and I know that the testimony which he giveth of me is true.

Ye sent unto John, and he bare witness unto the truth.

     And he received not his testimony of man, but of God, and ye yourselves say that he is a prophet,                      therefore ye ought to receive his testimony. These things I say that ye might be saved.

He was a burning and a shining light: and ye were willing for a season to rejoice in his light.

     But I have a greater witness than the testimony of John; For the works which the Father hath given me to finish, the same works that I do, bear witness of me, that the Father hath sent me.
     And the Father himself who sent me, hath borne witness of me. And verily I testify unto you, that ye have never heard his voice at any time, nor seen his shape;
     For ye have not his word abiding in you; and him whom he hath sent, ye believe not.

Search the scriptures; For in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.

     And ye will not come to me that ye might have life, lest ye should honor me.

I receive not honour from men.
     But I know you, that ye have not the love of God in you.

I am come in my Father’s name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive.

How can ye believe, who seek honor one of another, and seek not the honor which cometh from God only?

Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father: there is one that accuseth you, even Moses, in whom ye trust.

     For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: For he wrote of me.
     But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?



{1} In Who Shall Ascend into the Hill of the Lord we examined Nephi’s very closely and only showed Mormon’s outline. In the first edition the chapters are: “Nephi’s Review of the Festival Temple Drama,” 651-63; “Mormon’s Outline of the Book of Mormon,” 655-69. In the second edition (the one on this website), the same chapters are on pages 464-72 and 473-75.


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