My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working. (John 5:17)
Jesus spoke the words above after being openly criticized for healing a crippled man on the Sabbath. His critics felt that He was doing unlawful work on the Sabbath. In reality, this was simply a smokescreen for the jealousy of those who were in power. They felt threatened by Jesus and wanted to remove His influence from among the people.
nonetheless, I have often wondered how to square Christ’s words above, that His Father is always working, with other words of Scripture that say the Father has finished His works.
For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His. (Hebrews 4:10)
Not only does the Scripture paint a picture of the Father resting from His works, but we also know that Jesus has “sat down at the right hand of God…where He waits….” (see Hebrews 10:12-13) At the Cross, Jesus cried out, “It is finished.”
But a thorough review of Scripture shows us that God has NOT taken an early retirement. He does not have a vacation home on the backside of the universe from which He monitors our work! Actually, the work He has already finished is the work of establishing everything necessary for us to know and love Him and to walk with Him as His sons and daughters. But the real work of developing His sons and daughters into their glorious position with Christ is ongoing!
When a woman gives birth to a baby it is called “going through labor.” And rightly so. I am told that it is very hard work. It could be accurately stated that when the baby is born the labor has ended.
NOT. (Yes, ladies, I felt the pushback on the statement above!)
The work of giving birth and the subsequent years of relationship and training are two very different things. They are both work, howbeit different kinds of work. And here’s the immediate application for us.
God doesn’t need us to conceive or initiate anything. He does all that Himself.
What the Father has for us is the grand privilege of walking in a real and personal love relationship with Him that flows out in a blessed partnership (obedience)…daily…for the rest of eternity.
Get the next statement that our Lord makes (after saying that His Father is always working):
Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner…I can do nothing on My own initiative. (John 5:19, 30a)
Jesus operated in freedom that only comes from being properly oriented and submitted to the Father and His activity.