March 11, 2013
From the desk of Dr. A.J. Higgins
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 in like manner.
John 5:19 Newberry
Does this verse suggest, at first read, that the Lord was in some way limited? Think again. It is just the opposite. Look at the context – “My Father worketh hitherto and I work” (v 17). The healing on the Sabbath evoked the anger and criticism of the leaders. They claimed that God was “resting” since it was the Sabbath. The Lord Jesus affirmed that God was active in the work of removing the effects of sin.
Look at what the Lord Jesus is declaring. There are many things which we can do, and perhaps unfortunately do, which the Father is not doing. For the Lord Jesus, doing anything which the Father was not doing was an impossibility. The Lord Jesus stated that He has perfect knowledge of all that the Father is doing in our world. There is absolutely nothing which the Father was doing while the Son was upon earth, that the Son was not also doing. Who else could claim that?
He then declares that whatever the Father is doing, He is doing also. No work of God is omitted. Is that a statement that any other man could make?
But then He adds another aspect to that claim: that whatever the Father is doing, He is not only doing, but doing in exactly the same manner. No omissions of detail or any work could be charged to Him. Did any servant prior to Him ever make that claim?
Rather than a refutation of His deity, it is an affirmation of the strongest kind. The impossibility – “The Son can do nothing of Himself” – is a moral impossibility. Such is the fellowship and unity of Father and Son, that there is nothing that the Son does which is not what the Farther is doing. What man, be he prophet or priest, could ever have made or make those assertions?
1. Look at all the Sabbath day miracles and encounters of the Lord Jesus with the leaders of the nation, and notice a progression in them.
2. Do you think the animosity of the Jews, mentioned in verse 18, “The Jews sought the more to kill Him … said that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God,” was based on a misunderstanding? Or is this the prime reason presented in John’s Gospel for the rejection of the Lord Jesus? He actually claimed to be, and they understood that He claimed to be, God the Son.
3. The verse which follows, verse 20, speaks of the Father loving the Son. Collect the verses in John which speak of the Father’s love for the Son. There is only one verse in the Gospel which speaks of the Son’s love for the Father. When did He express that statement?