In our daily meditations, we look at some of the things Jesus taught His disciples. One time, after healing an invalid at the Pool of Bethesda on the Sabbath (John 5:1-16), the Jewish leadership began persecuting Jesus because He healed the man on the Sabbath, and the Pharisees believed that healing was work forbidden on the Sabbath. Amid the persecution against Him (John 5:16), Jesus replied with five claims of equality with God. We'll focus today on the first two to keep this meditation short.
1) Christ is Equal with God in His Person (vs. 17-18).
17Jesus said to them, "My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working." 18For 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 (John 5:17-18).
Some people say that Jesus never said that He was and is God. I don’t know where they get that notion because the Lord clearly states His divinity in this passage of Scripture alone. Just as His Father never stopped working on the Sabbath, it was the same with the Lord Jesus. The religious Jews certainly understood Him to say that He is equal to God (v. 18). For that reason, they responded by trying even harder to kill Christ (v. 18).
2) Christ is Equal with God in His Works (vs. 19-20).
19Jesus 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. 20For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, to your amazement he will show him even greater things than these (John 5:17-20).
Jesus stated that He could only do what He saw His Father doing. We should not see this as a statement that Jesus is weaker or inferior to the Father, for that would be heresy, but the Lord is stating that everything He did was in cooperation with the Father and out of their Oneness. There is only One God, and Jesus is 100% God in human flesh. In one place, Christ said to the disciple Philip:
Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father?' (John 14:9).
The Lord Jesus taught discipleship through modeling. He did everything through listening to and doing what the Father showed Him. As disciples of Christ, we should always have one thought uppermost in our mind, “Lord, what do you want to do through me in this situation? What do you want me to say to this person?” Sometimes, we might fall flat on our faces because we have said or done something that we thought the Lord was saying yet saw no visible result. Even though we do not see results, we must trust that God is at work and be obedient to the leading of the Spirit. I remember sharing Christ many years ago with a couple of young girls. After sharing how they could be saved, I never followed up with them because there didn't seem to be a level of interest. Later, I found out they were so hungry for God that they took the initiative to return to me and ask me if I would share more with them. I led them both to Christ. How blind I was to the work of the Spirit of God! The more we learn to be sensitive to His voice and leading, the more we see Him work through us.
We must listen for that gentle whisper (1 Kings 19:12) of the Spirit that becomes clearer the longer we walk with Him and are obedient to His prompting. Remember that the whisper of the Spirit never contradicts the Word of God. The prompting of the Holy Spirit will always seem like something that Jesus would say and agree with the Scriptures. The Lord said that this relationship between the Father and Son operates out of love for one another, “For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does” (v. 20). When a person is genuinely in love with Christ, the gifts of the Spirit will flow in him and through him to touch lives. Jesus was saying that He was and is equal to the Father and that all He did flow from the Father's prompting. Keith Thomas
This meditation is a shortened version of the in-depth study: Jesus the Life-Giver.