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 argued 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 was possible. Jesus was about to vindicate that He and the Father were one (Jn 10:30).
This discourse shows how the Son was 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 was at odds with other members. Both the Father and Son had one purpose and they worked that purpose in unison. Their activities were in perfect harmony. Jesus was the agent on earth for whatever needed to be done.
Verses 19-22 argue the equality of the Son and the Father, who are not able to contradict each other.
The word “then” means therefore. Jesus was 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 was one with the Father in every action. He would show the relationship between His deity and humanity.
“Most assuredly” always introduces a very important pronouncement by Jesus. He was about to make a solemn statement. Of the 25 times these words are used, this discourse has two occurrences. What Jesus was about to share with His hears was true without question. His point was that the Son was equal to the Father.
I say to you,
Jesus would now explain how Christ could perform miracles while in His humanity. The Jews needed to understand how Jesus claimed to be God. Christ was more than His humanity.
John used the words “the Son” eight times in this passage and only five times in the remainder of the gospel. The Father did 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 were tied directly to the Father. The Father and Son worked in perfect harmony. The Son could not act independently of the Father. He was one in will with the Father.
The Father and the Son could not 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 was the same as the Father’s authority. They did not usurp the authority of the other. The Son did not even act on His own initiative.
It was impossible for the Son to act in independence from the Father. He and the Father could not act separately. Both continually contemplated together. Their relation was absolute and uninterrupted. Therefore, whatever the Father did, the Son did. This was not a matter of imitation but it arose out of the sameness of their nature. Although the Father and Son had sameness of nature, the Son had 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.