Then answered Jesus and said to them, Truly, truly, I say to you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he sees the Father do…
I. JUDGMENT APPERTAINS TO GOD. It is His in criminal causes (Romans 12:19) and in civil things (Psalm 82:1). No function of God is so often reiterated. And He is the Judge of judges themselves. Judgment is so essential to God that it is co-eternal with Him.
1. He knows, and therefore naturally detests evil. We are blind, and need the assistance of the law to know what is evil. And if a man be a judge what an exact knowledge of the law is required of him — for some things are sins to one nation which are not to another, and some things are sin at one time which are not at another. Only God has a universal knowledge, and therefore detestation of evil.
2. He discerns when thou committest evil. Hence you have to supply defects in laws so that things done in one country may be tried in another. But God has the power of discerning all actions in all places. Earthly judges have their distinctions and so their restrictions; some things they cannot know — what mortal can, and some things they cannot take knowledge of, for they are bound by evidence. But nothing keeps God from discerning and judging everything.
3. He knows how to punish evil. The office of a judge being not to contract or extend the law, but to declare its true meaning. God hath this judgment in perfection, for He made the law by which He judges. Who then can dispute His interpretation? As, then, God is judge in all these three respects, so He is a judge(1) without appeal;
(2) without needing any evidence (Proverbs 24:12; Proverbs 16:2; 1 Corinthians 4:4); and if so, not only I, but not the most righteous man, nor the Church He hath washed in His own blood, shall appear righteous in His sight.
II. How then, seeing that judgment is an inseparable character of God, can it be said that THE FATHER JUDGETH NO MAN? Not certainly because weary. He judges as God, not as Father. In the three great judgments of God the whole Trinity judges.
1. Before all times in our election.
2. Now in separating of servants from enemies.
3. At the last judgment in separating the sheep from the goats.Consider God altogether, and so in all outward works, all the Trinity concurs, because all are one God; but consider God in relation, in distinct persons, and so the several persons do something in which the other persons are not interested. So the Son judgeth, the Father judgeth not, for that judgment He hath committed.
III. TO THE SON HE HATH COMMITTED ALL JUDGMENT, the image of the invisible God, and so more proportional unto us, more apprehensible by us.
1. But doth He judge as Son of God or as Son of Man. Upon this the Fathers and Reformers are divided. But take this rule, God hath given Christ this commission as Man, but Christ had not been capable of it had He not been God too. The ability is in Him eternally, but the power of actual execution was given Him as Man.
2. All judgment —
(1) Of our election. If I were under the condemnation of the law, and going to execution, and the king's pardon were presented to me, I should ask no question as to motives and circumstances, but thankfully attribute it to his goodness and accept it; so when I consider myself as under God's consideration, and yet by the working of God's Spirit I find I am delivered from it I inquire not what God did in His cabinet council. I know that He hath elected me in Christ. And, therefore, that I may know whether I do not deceive myself I examine myself whether I can truly tell my conscience that Christ died for me, which I cannot do if I have not a desire to conform myself to Him; and if I do that then I find my predestination.
(2) Of our justification, "for there is none other name," etc. Do I then remember what I contracted with Christ when I took His name at baptism? Have I fulfilled those conditions? Do I find a remorse when I have not? Do I feel remission of those sins when I hear the gracious promises of the gospel to repentant sinners? Have I a true and solid consolation when I receive the seal of pardon at the Sacrament? Therefore this judgment is His also.
(3) Of our glorification (Revelation 1:7). Then He shall come as Man and give judgment for things done or omitted towards Him as Man, "for not feeding," etc. Conclusion: Such is the goodness of God that He deals with man by the Son of Man.
1. If you would be tried by the first judgment; are you elected or no? Do you believe in Christ?
2. If by the second, are you justified or no? Do you find comfort in the Word and sacraments of Christ?
3. If by the third, do you expect a glorification? Are you so reconciled to Jesus Christ now that you durst say now, "Come quickly, Lord Jesus"? then you are partakers of all that blessedness which the Father intended for you when, for your sake, He committed all judgment to the Son.
(J. Donne, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: 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.