The fact that the people were more interested in Christ’s teaching than they were in the dry, tedious arguments of the Jewish teachers, maddened the scribes and Pharisees. These teachers spoke with uncertainty, interpreting the Scriptures to mean one thing, and then another. This left the people in great confusion. But as they listened to Jesus, their hearts were warmed and comforted. He presented God as a loving father, not as an avenging judge. He drew all, high and low, rich and poor, to see God in His true character, leading them to call Him by the endearing name, “Our Father.”
By loving words and by works of mercy, Christ bore down old traditions and man-made commandments, and presented the love of the Father in its exhaustless fullness. His calm, earnest, musical voice fell like balm on the wounded spirit. He was revealing the image of God mirrored in himself. He presented to His hearers the truths of the prophecies, separating them from the obscure interpretations which the scribes and Pharisees had attached to them. He scattered the heavenly grains of truth wherever He went.
Determined to hear what Christ said to His disciples, the scribes and Pharisees kept spies on His track. These spies noted His words, and reported them to the Jewish authorities, who, when they heard them, were almost beside themselves with ill-concealed rage, which they interpreted to be zeal for God.
As the members of the Sanhedrim counseled together, there were not wanting men with strong, determined prejudices, who advised that this man who claimed so much be at once put down. If He were allowed to go on as He had been going, healing the sick on the Sabbath day, the sacredness of the day would be set at naught.
They saw that Christ’s influence over the people was fast becoming greater than theirs. They longed to crush Him for daring to make their traditions of none effect, but they feared to move openly, because of the people. They thought that if they worked secretly, watching His words and actions, they would soon find such accusations against Him that He could be put on trial for His life. Declaring that the end justified the means, they decided to circulate falsehoods among the people, declaring that Jesus of Nazareth was an impostor, and that He was making of none effect Jewish traditions and customs. They declared that if these traditions were criticised by this man, the whole Jewish economy could be criticised by any crazy enthusiast. The nation would become distracted, and the Romans would come and take away the power they still possessed.
“Therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to slay Him, because He had done these things on the Sabbath day. But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work.”
Christ was accused of breaking the Sabbath by doing upon it works of healing. But He justified himself by stating that His work admitted of no interruption. He must work constantly, even as His Father works. It is by God’s unfailing care that we are provided with daily food. Then should we not trust in Him who has undertaken our salvation. The knowledge that the Father and the Son are united in the work of redemption should give courage and hope to the most desponding.
Christ, the surety of the human race, works with uninterrupted activity. He speaks of himself as working in the same way as the Guardian of the universe. He worked untiringly for the people of Israel. He sought to lead them to trust in Him who can save to the uttermost all who come to Him. Christ is the light which lighteneth every man that cometh into the world. From Adam, through the patriarchal age, this light made plain the way to heaven. To it gave all the prophets witness. In mysterious procession future things swept before their vision. In every sacrifice Christ’s death was pointed out. His righteousness ascended to God in every cloud of incense. His majesty was hidden in the holy of holies. Christ was as truly a Saviour before as after His incarnation. At the very moment of transgression and apostasy, He entered upon His work, laboring for the salvation of man with an activity equal to the activity of God.
“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.” The whole nation called God their Father, and if Jesus had done this in the same sense in which they did, the Pharisees would not have been so enraged. But they accused Jesus of blasphemy, showing that they understood that Christ claimed God as His Father in the very highest sense.
Christ threw back the charge of blasphemy, with the words, “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 showeth Him all things that himself doeth.” My authority for the work that I am doing, He said, is the fact that I am God’s Son, one with Him in nature, will, and purpose. I co-operate with Him in His work. My Father loves me, and communicates to me all His counsels. Nothing is planned by the Father in heaven that is not fully opened to the Son.
“The Father loveth the Son, and showeth Him all things that himself doeth: and He will show Him greater works than these, that ye may marvel.” Christ was to do greater things than even the healing of disease. By His power the dead were to be raised to life. Scribes and Pharisees were to see that which would astonish them, at which they would be obliged to marvel, even though their hearts would be too proud and hard to make any acknowledgment.
“For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom He will.” What a statement to make before those whose hearts were already filled with hatred and murder. Christ was giving the rulers of Israel light, which would make them inexcusable. Nothing was left undone that could be done to convince them of their error.