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.
but what He sees the Father do;
The Son is never in rivalry with the Father. The Son is the unique Son, the One and Only Son (Jn 1:14, 18). The Son in His deity does not deduce what He knows from observation. Rather, since He is in the bosom of the Father and is totally one with the Father (Jn 10:30). His perspective is entirely different from simple human beings. His understanding comes from eternity past and present because of His relation to the Father. He is in constant communion with the Father. Everything that the Son does reflects His joint fellowship with the Father.
The Son is always conscious of the Father’s will. The Son does all the Father does in His absolute equality with the Father.
This is the first of four occurrences of “for.” These “for’s” are explanatory in nature. This one asserts that it is impossible for the Son to take independent action from the Father.
whatever He does,
The Son has no separate interest or action that is different from the Father. The Father is the standard for the Son’s activity. Everything in Jesus’ life reflects the Father.
the Son also does in like manner.
The actions of the Son are the actions of the Father. This is a clear declaration of the Son’s deity. If the Father did something in eternity past, it was the Son doing it as well.
It is impossible for the Son to take an independent action from the Father because they are one. A self-determined action would set Him against the Father making two separate gods. It would also deny His Sonship. The point that Jesus makes is that He is the full revelation of the Father (Jn 15:15; 17:10).
The Son not only does what the Father does but He does it “in like manner.” He comports with the absolute attributes of the common deity. This is a claim to identity or equality with God. Everything the Father does the Son does. This does not mean that the Son acts in a similar way as the Father but that they act as one. The Son continues the work of the Father and they act together and in common. There is an identity of action based on identity of nature. The Son is wholly with God in what He does.
The Father and Son are one in essence. This absolute unity is only possible with those who possess the same nature.
God is one in essence but three in person
Arians, or people like Jehovah Witnesses of today claim that the Son is inferior to the Father because Christ could no nothing by himself. However, the issue is not essence but distinction in person. The Son is subordinate in His role to the Father but not in essence.
Also, Jesus argued how this difference relates to His humanity. The Jews viewed Him nothing more than a human. The argument of Christ is that He used His divine power to heal the lame man. The Jews gave attention to Jesus’ body but Jesus placed emphasis on His deity. When Jesus healed the paralyzed man, He did it with His divine power. This is why there is no difference between the Son and the Father in their work. Since the Father and Son share the same nature they share the same purposes.
Equality with the Father does not mean independence of the Son from the Father. The Father’s role is to plan and the Son’s to execute that plan. All is of the Father and all is by the Son. Both operate in perfect unison.
The Father and Son are one in essence but two in person. Because they are one eternal God the Son’s action is the Father’s action. Everything that the Father does, Jesus does; everything that Jesus does, the Father does. The person of Christ is God Almighty.
It is not enough to think of the Son in terms of the 33 years of Jesus on earth. Jesus was more than a great human being; He was God Himself.
Although Christ is equal to God, He functionally is subordinate to the Father. There is a role difference between the two. Jesus is not independent from the Father but dependent on Him.
The Father and Son are so vitally linked together that they cannot act independently of each other. The Son’s equality with the Father does not mean that He is independent from the Father.