Powers of Attorney are much used in Jersey. A person wishes to buy a house but does not wish to appear in the Royal Court of a Friday afternoon to confirm the written contract in person in front of the public court. He (or she) appoints an Attorney to do that. He signs a Power of Attorney.
A Jersey resident is now a widow and wants to let her son or daughter look after her bills and bank accounts. She appoints her son or daughter to do that using a Power of Attorney.
There are broadly two types of Attorney – first, one who is given authority only to do a specific thing (like buy or sell a particular house); second, one who is given authority to do anything and everything that the person who signed the Power of Attorney could do. The former is called a Special Power of Attorney; the latter a General Power of Attorney.
It is interesting to see that, when Jesus Christ spoke the first sentence above (“Do not labour for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you”), he was able to say “which the Son of Man will give to you” because he had been given a General Power of Attorney by his Father.
That was, in effect, claimed by Jesus in his next sentence (“For – because - on him God the Father has set his seal”). There used to be a requirement that Powers of Attorney be ‘executed’ under seal – in a very formal way - because they are so far reaching. A seal helped to ensure that the person giving authority to another really knew what he was doing – and that, he, in particular, really trusted that other to act for his good.
Why did Jesus, the Son of Man, think it necessary to provide this reason – the fact that he was acting under the seal of his Father – straight after saying that he will give to people “the food that endures to eternal life”? Was Jesus giving to them something that, as it were, belonged to another? Was he giving something away using, as it were, his authority under a Power of Attorney from his Father?
The original Greek behind the English words “eternal life” provides an answer. “Eternal” is a translation of aionios = lasting for aeons and aeons. And “life” is a translation of zoe = the life of God. The careful writer John used two different Greek words for life in his biography of Jesus Christ: one is bios meaning biological life; the other is zoe used by him always and only for the life of Almighty God. On that day in AD 32, Jesus was giving away the infinite life of the Almighty, his Father. He needed to show his Power of Attorney from the Father.
But Attorney’s are not always trustworthy. And when a son is appointed as his father’s Attorney, he will not always act honestly and in the very best interests of his father. From time immemorial fathers have had some reluctance (some considerable reluctance in many cases) to give a Power of Attorney to a son. So many sons, if not untrustworthy, might well do something with the father’s assets that the father would not wish to happen………..
How interesting then that, a little later in his address to the crowd that day, Jesus gives the reason why his Father was absolutely delighted to give him a Power of Attorney (see bold above) – “For - because - I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me.”
A trustworthy son, a trustworthy Attorney - because he wished only to do what his Father wished: at all times; in all circumstances; in every way.
And what exactly is his Father’s will? Here is where the whole thing comes full circle. Jesus used another “For”, immediately after the last. He said, “For – because - this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life….” And yes, the Father’s will in Greek for those who look is still the infinite aionios zoe.