The Berean Expositor
Volume 54 - Page 56 of 210
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"For this reason the Jews tried all the harder to kill Him; not only was He breaking
the Sabbath, but He was even calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with
God" (5: 18).
John repeats the clause "they sought to kill Him" in 7: 1, 19, 25; 8: 37, 40, so this
was not just a temporary upset, but a cold-blooded plotting to murder Him.
"Jesus gave them this answer: `I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by
Himself; He can do only what He sees His Father doing, because whatever the Father
does, the Son also does'." (5: 19).
Those who deny the deity of Christ love to pick this verse out because they imagine it
proves their point, but it does nothing of the kind. Verses 19-47 substantiate Christ's
claim of complete unity and equality with the Father when they are taken as a whole.
The Lord Jesus had become incarnate to perform the redemptive purpose of the
Father. This meant a voluntary submission in every detail to the Father's will, thus, He
avoided doing or saying anything on His own initiative. The Father initiated, and the Son
carried this out fully and faithfully. Hence the words, "the Son can do nothing on His
own initiative". He only does what He sees the Father doing. In the following verses this
relates to two things, the impartation of life and the execution of judgment, and in dealing
with these the Lord showed His equality with the Father. Whatever the Father does, the
Son does likewise. Neither is there any limit to what the Father shows the Son, for the
Father shows Him all things, "all He does" (20). Here is equality indeed, and this is
reinforced in the verses that follow:
"For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to
whom He is pleased to give it."
Here is equality again and not only so but:
". . . . . the Father judges no-one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, that all may
honour the Son just as they honour the Father. He who does not honour the Son does not
honour the Father Who sent Him" (5: 21-23).
The One Who will judge all men has been man Himself! The Lord's enemies denied
His equality with the Father (and they still do) but real faith relies solely on what God
had said and accepts it, even though this goes beyond one's powers of apprehension and
understanding. If we honour the Son just as we honour the Father, we shall certainly
avoid belittling Him because of His self-dedication and self-restriction to all the Father
willed. If we do not, then Christ asserts we neither honour the Father, nor the Son, and
are in a sorry state indeed.
The Lord Jesus continues:
"I tell you the truth, whoever hears My word and believes Him Who sent Me hast
eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life" (5: 24).
The word of Christ is a life-giving word which is applied by the Holy Spirit to the
believing one. He then "hears" in a way that he did not experience before. Later on the