The “Verily, verily” statement in this verse is “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise. (ESV)”
As I said last week, the big idea of this passage is that Jesus is equal with God, meaning, Jesus is God. And the key phrase here is “Son of God”. There are many, many reference to Son of God throughout the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. And Jesus openly admits to this truth in Matthew 16:16-17. Here is that passage: “16 Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. (ESV)”
Here in John, and throughout the teachings He taught, He is showing us how we are to live in relation to God. Using the title “Son of God” is showing that He is submissive to the Father. He does not come of His own accord, but to do what the Father wills for Him to do. This submission is showing us to have that same full allegiance to the will of God. We are to have a commitment to obedience under the lordship of God. This obedience is to be faithful and complete. And Jesus perfectly followed God’s will. Another way to say this is that the Son does the same works as the Father in perfect union with Him and His will.
In verse 20, we note that the Father loves the Son. That is, the Father has a personal relationship with the Son, and He is well-pleased with Him. The word “love” here is not the normal word “agape” that is in other places throughout the Scriptures. The word here is “phileo“, meaning to liked, pleased with, or to be fond of. The Strong’s Concordance states that it is to mean “tender affection”, and that this word here is never used as a command to men to “phileo” God. This is a personal feeling type of love. And this love that the Father has toward the Son is the same love the Son has with those that do His will. Jesus is perfectly exemplifying the type of submissive obedience that allows Him to be pleased and tenderly affectionate toward us.
The Father shows the Son His will and that He Himself is showing us what to do. And He shows us “greater works than these”. He shows us these greater works that we may marvel. The word here in the Greek is thaumazo, which is a word that means to wonder, wonder at, marvel, to be wondered at, and hence, to be had in admiration (Strong’s concordance). As you have probably noticed, I went to the Strong’s concordance for a lot of guidance into the base meaning and principle of this passage. I wanted a deeper and base meaning. I was searching down to the bare bones of what God is trying to reveal to me, more than the surface, but the skeleton of it. What is God building on here?
The core principle He teaches is: obey the things that I am showing you that it may be pleasing to Me. Jesus and the Father are One. He says this over and over. Jesus is the image of the Father. He is the example. He is the image that we are to look at in the mirror when we look at ourselves. The “Son of God”. The “submissive servant”. That is what we are emulate and do with love and unity in Him. At its very essence, He is saying, “Copy me and you will be pleasing to God.” It doesn’t get any plainer than that.
I don’t really know how to say it any plainer, but the original audience would have understood this. And this is why the Jewish authorities wanted to kill Him. He was living life according to Scripture, which, when we really get down to it, He gave to mankind to follow and that the people over time manipulated and morphed it into what is called the “Traditions”. They had grown comfortable in their control and superiority. They didn’t want to relinquish that control that was meant only for God. They didn’t want to give up that ability to feel more important, “godly”, and respected. They were supposed to be emulating what God wants the people to do. As leaders of the people, they were supposed to show the people that only God is to be worshiped and adored. He alone is to give us our “marching orders” so to speak. We are not to be puffed up and vain. So Jesus came to do what the leaders and by proxy the rest of the people were supposed to be doing to please God. We were designed for a purpose – both generally speaking and individually.
Being a Son of God also shows that we have personal relationship. The phileo love here shows the relational interaction we come to God with. He is not just our Lord and Master, but also our Father, Comforter, Provider, Protector, and Confidant. He is so much more than a “Boss”. And Jesus is teaching this in a way that can be remembered. The Hebrews were a very ‘feeling’ people. The words they spoke were not simply words on paper, but they held deep-rooted feelings and background information in them. They thought holistically in stories and songs. It wasn’t a simple research paper to be turned in and read by members of the class.
If we can grasp that idea that we are to copy what Jesus taught and did (in general terms – fulfilling the Will of God), then we can be exactly what God created us for. And having a personal relationship with Him allows us to know the specific Will He has for us.
Gotta go fill up my cup…..