19 Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner.
Beginning from verse 19 to the end of the chapter there is a shift from dialogue to monologue. The subject of this monologue is Jesus’ right to claim to be God Himself. Instead of qualifying His statement in the previous verse about His equality with the Father, Jesus now argues for it in a greater way.
This is the first extended discourse by Jesus in this gospel. The dominant theme of this discourse is central to Christianity. No other passage sets forth the unity of the Father and Son as does this passage.
The question of the Jews was “How can the eternal God exist in a human being?” They wanted to kill Him for His claim. This discourse is Jesus’ explanation of how this is possible. Jesus is about to vindicate that He and the Father are one (Jn 10:30).
This discourse shows how the Son is related to the Father. No finite human being can see this relationship. It was hidden from the possibility of human judgment.
Jesus’ answer revolved around the unity of the Godhead. No member of the Trinity is at odds other members. Both the Father and Son have one purpose and they work that purpose in unison. Their activities are in perfect harmony. Jesus is the agent on earth for whatever needs to be done.
Verses 19-22 argue the equality of the Son and the Father. They are not able to contradict each other.
The word “then” means therefore. Jesus is drawing an inference from the Jews’ anger about His claims.
Jesus answered and said to them,
Although official Judaism expressed their rejection of the deity of Christ, Jesus developed His relationship to the Father even further. He is one with the Father in every action. He will show the relationship between His deity and humanity.
“Most assuredly” always introduces a very important pronouncement by Jesus. He is about to make a solemn statement. Of the 25 times these words are used, this discourse has two occurrences. What Jesus is about to share with His hears is true without question. His point is that the Son is equal to the Father.
I say to you,
Jesus will now explain how Christ can perform miracles while in His humanity. The Jews need to understand how Jesus claimed to be God. Christ was more than His humanity.
John uses the words “the Son” eight times in this passage and only five times in the remainder of the gospel. The Father does not have a number of sons, just One equal to Himself.
can do nothing of Himself,
Jesus asserted His dependence on the Father in His humanity. Also, His role as the Son placed Him in a subordinate role to the Father. All the Son’s activities are tied directly to the Father. The Father and Son work in perfect harmony. The Son cannot act independently of the Father. He is one in will with the Father.
The Father and the Son cannot contradict themselves. It is impossible to have two absolute conflicting wills. That would mean there would be two gods each opposing the other. There cannot be two supreme beings. The implication is that the Son’s authority is the same as the Father’s authority. They do not usurp the authority of the other. The Son does not even act on His own initiative.
It is impossible for the Son to act in independence from the Father. He and the Father cannot act separately. Both continually contemplate together. Their relation is absolute and uninterrupted. Therefore, whatever the Father does, the Son does. This is not a matter of imitation but it arises out of the sameness of their nature. Although the Father and Son have sameness of nature the Son has a subordinate role to the Father.
The humanity of Christ operates as a genuine person with its limitations.
If Christ is God Almighty, why is it that He cannot do things “of Himself?” The answer to that question has to do with the role the Father had for Him on earth. Jesus is the mediator between God and man. He had to function as a genuine person in that role and not in His role as God. Jesus completely depended on the Father while he was a man on earth. That was true for not only what He did but what He said. As mediator, the Son submitted Himself for His time on earth. There was a time for which the God-man was to do what the Father told Him.