December 7, 2021

Jesus’ Intimacy with the Father

The Son is not able to do anything on His own, but only what He sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, the Son also does these things in the same way. – John 5:19 (HCSB)

If we wish to understand the mind and heart of Jesus, then we must understand that which motivated him. The Apostle John, more so than the other Gospel writers, addresses the driving force behind Jesus’ words and actions.

On the one hand, Jesus was driven strategically by the singular goal of redemptive sacrifice. When speaking to his disciples about the coming crucifixion, Jesus clearly identified this singular focus. . .

“. . . unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains by itself. But if it dies, it produces a large crop. . . Now My soul is troubled. What should I say—Father, save Me from this hour? But that is why I came to this hour. Father, glorify Your name.” – John 12:24,27-28 (HCSB)

His sacrificial death was the “meta-narrative” or over-arching story to Jesus’ life and ministry. It was why he “came to this hour”. He may not have always known what he would be doing in a particular week, but during his ministry he always knew and understood strategically that each new day brought him one day closer to the cross. Regardless of geographical direction, Jesus was always on his way “to Jerusalem” (Matthew 16:21; 20:17, 18; Mark 10:32,33; Luke 9:31, 51, 53; 17:11, 18:31, 19:11, 28; John 12:12).

On the other hand, Jesus also operated tactically, minute by minute and day by day with direction and intentionality. He wasn’t merely blown from one moment to the next by the winds of circumstance. Something was guiding him, informing him, and pointing him in the needed direction.

It’s clear from John that at this tactical level Jesus was driven by a deep intimacy with the Father. If we wish to understand what motivated and guided Jesus day by day, then we must examine the intimate relationship he fostered with his heavenly Father. To that end, consider the following texts, all from John (emphasis added).

The Son is not able to do anything on His own, but only what He sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, the Son also does these things in the same way.” – John 5:19

I can do nothing on My own. I judge only as I hear, and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.” – John 5:30

My teaching isn’t Mine but is from the One who sent Me.” – John 6:16

“And if I do judge, My judgment is true, because I am not alone, but I and the Father who sent Me judge together”. – John 8:16

“. . . what I have heard from Him—these things I tell the world”. – John 8:26

But just as the Father taught Me, I say these things. The One who sent Me is with Me. He has not left Me alone, because I always do what pleases Him”. – John 8:28b & 29

I speak what I have seen in the presence of the Father. . .” – John 8:38

“. . . the truth that I heard from God”. – John 8:40

For I have not spoken on My own, but the Father himself who sent Me has given Me a command as to what I should say and what I should speak. I know that His command is eternal life. So the things that I speak, I speak just as the Father has told Me”. – John 12:49-50

The words I speak to you I do not speak on My own. The Father who lives in Me does his works”. – John 14:10b

The word that you hear is not Mine but is from the Father who sent Me”. – John 14:24b

Clearly, Jesus was operating out of a close, intimate relationship with the Father. The words he spoke, the miracles he performed, and the places he went were not random, but were informed by a line of communication between himself and his heavenly Father.

This relationship was a real relationship between two real and distinct persons. Their communication was not some sort of spiritual metaphor pointing to a transcendent spirituality that can’t be defined. Jesus and the Father were distinct persons who had real communication.

It’s difficult to say just how specific to any particular context this communication might have been. Only John 5:19 refers to Jesus “doing” what he sees the Father doing. This could be a reference to very specific kinds of actions, or it could be a reference to the broader redemptive activity of the Father. Most of the texts above deal with Jesus speaking what he has heard the Father speak. Again, it’s difficult to know just how specific these messages were to any given context.

What is clear is that Jesus was listening to the Father and observing the Father in order to know what he was supposed to do and what he was supposed to say. This should not surprise us. Why wouldn’t the Father and the Son be engaged in intimate communication?

Perhaps more important is to recognize that the relationship between Jesus and the Father provides a model for our own relationship with the Father. There is no reason to think that we can’t also have a comparable relationship with the same heavenly Father in a way that informs our journeys, our conversations, our ministries, and our lives.

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