Explore the profound implications of Jesus calling God "Father" in John 5:18, delving into its theological, relational, and cultural significance in Christian belief.
John 5:18 — Father and Son — Aneel Aranha
Hello and welcome to the Bite-Sized Gospel with Aneel Aranha. Today we will reflect on John 5:18. Listen.
[Because of what Jesus said, the Jewish leaders] tried all the more to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.
Jesus calling God his "Father" is one of the most profound and revolutionary aspects of his teachings. This term carries deep theological, relational, and cultural implications, and we will look at these today. Please don't get intimidated by the jargon; I will keep it simple.
First, the theological aspect. The Jews saw God as the Father of Israel in a collective sense (e.g., Exodus 4:22, Isaiah 63:16). However, Jesus' use of "Father" in reference to God was personal and intimate. And by consistently referring to God as "My Father," Jesus was asserting his unique Sonship and divine identity.
This relationship between Jesus (the Son) and God (the Father) forms the foundation for the Christian doctrine of the Trinity. This doctrine states that God exists in three persons (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) who are distinct yet one in essence. Jesus' interactions and references to the Father (and the Spirit) provide the scriptural basis for this central Christian belief.
Second, the relational aspect. By calling God "Father," Jesus introduced a level of intimacy previously unheard of in a religious context. This wasn't a distant, impersonal deity he was calling to mind, but a close, caring Father. This intimacy is further emphasized in the Aramaic term "Abba," akin to saying "Daddy" or "Papa" in English, which Jesus uses several times in his conversations (Mark 14:36).
In his letters, Paul expands on this theme, suggesting that through Christ, believers too are adopted into this intimate family relationship with God (Romans 8:15, Galatians 4:6). This means believers are not just servants or subjects but children of God, with all the rights and privileges of that status, including the inheritance of eternal life. Let that sink in for a moment.
Third, the cultural implications. In the Jewish religious context, Jesus' constant and intimate reference to God as his Father was radical and often considered blasphemous. It challenged the idea of God's transcendence and separateness, which upset his Jewish listeners greatly.
Jesus' reference to God as his Father also redefined divine kingship. In many ancient cultures, kings were often seen as sons of gods or even gods themselves. However, Jesus' claim to divine Sonship was different. He wasn't asserting political power or dominion but was revealing a relationship based on love, obedience, and sacrifice.
All this was so foreign to his Jewish listeners that they doubled down on their efforts to kill him. They eventually did, but only succeeded in fulfilling God's plan of salvation for the world.
God bless you.