Were They Mistaken?
She looked at me as if I had come from a nearby planet. Why couldnt I understand what she was saying? Standing at my door, Bible in hand, she stated that Jesus was only a man and much inferior to the Father.
She said, "notice how the Jews mistakenly thought He was making Himself equal to God". She added, "He tries to explain that He was only a man and so He says [5:19] "The Son can do nothing of Himself.""
But, The Other Verses:
I suggested it was vital to read the whole chapter. The Jews were upset because He called God "His Father." Then does He take back His words? No, He speaks further of "the Father" twelve times and once of "my Father" in the chapter. He doesnt renounce their charge - He supports it. And in chapters eight and ten as He talks to the Jews He uses the phrase "my Father" 14 times more.
Furthermore He supports their statement by
indicating that He was equal in:
v. 19 Works - "these also doeth the Son likewise"
v. 20 Knowledge - "showeth Him all things"
v. 21 Resurrection - "the Son maketh alive whom He will"
v. 22 Judgement - "committed all judgement unto the Son"
v. 23 Honor - "that all men should honor the Son"
v. 26 Life giving - "the Son hath life in Himself"
If He was trying to explain that He was not equal then He adds fuel to the fire- since all of His following words only support His claim of equality with God.
Notice the Four Important Words of v. 19 that also declare His Deity.
1 - "Verily:" the Importance
He stresses here "Verily, verily." This emphasizes the importance of the words to follow. And He adds, "I say." He is speaking as the Living Word, as the voice of God, with authority and finality. In these first twelve chapters of John we meet "verily, verily" seventeen times. He not only speaks Truth, but He Himself is Truth. No mere human could speak the way He does. Hebrews 1:2 says, "God... has spoken to us in (the person of) the Son." [JND]
2 - "Son:" the Dignity
John records eight different descriptions of Christ using the word "Son"; (Son of God, Son of Joseph, etc). In this chapter "Son," an abbreviation of the title Son of God, is used eight times.
Does the word "Son" imply He had a beginning or a celestial mother as some cults teach? No, it speaks at least of His nature and character. Consider how the word "son" is used in Luke 16:8. We read of the sons of this world and the sons of light. The former have that nature, they are worldly. Sons of light on the other hand are characterised by moral light. When the Bible speaks of "the Son" or "Son of God ,"it is speaking of His nature as God, i.e. deity. In His character He ever has been the expression of what the Father is.
Its first use in John 1:18 helps us to see the meaning - "the only begotten Son...He has declared Him." Because He is equal with God He fully declares Him and displays His wonderful attributes.
3 - "Whatsoever:" the Extent
"Whatsoever" implies a rather large range of ability. He is not limited. "Whatever" the Father does, He does. The Father even "shows Him all things that He Himself does." No creature, no matter how divine or exalted could ever speak like this.
He does nothing "OF Himself", but only "what He sees the Father do." Some say the phrase, "can do nothing OF Himself" is emphasizing His Manhood. That is not the case at all. He is speaking of the impossibility of doing anything outside of the Fathers will and of His unity with the Father. The phrase expresses His Deity. We cannot say we do nothing "OF" (source) ourselves. We often do things not only "of" ourselves but "by" ourselves, independent of God. It was impossible for the Son to act this way.
4 - "Likewise:" the Degree
Note the big importance of the little words, v. 21 "even so," v. 23 "even as," v. 26 "so." These join v. 19 "likewise" to declare or emphasize the degree of His equality in the various points that are mentioned. His works declare His equality and the people take note.
Nicodemus states "We know that thou art come from God for no man can do the miracles The man born blind exclaims, "since the world began was it not heard that any man opened the eyes of one that was born blind" (9:32). Christ Himself tells them, I did "among them the works which none other man did" (15:24). What the Father can do, He does "even so " and "likewise."
Which Way Is South?
How does my heart respond to these statements of the outshining of His glory? See v.23 "that all men should honor the Son even as they honor the Father." You know of course that if your compass needle points north then it is very easy to know which way is south. And so if we honor Him we will know what direction to take in our choices in the assembly and at school, work and home .