Jesus gave them this answer:Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himselfJohn 5:19a
That is probably the most radical statement in the entire Word of God, because it indicates the first step in being a channel of the power of God: a recognition that any effort made to use God's power for one's own benefit will finally leave nothing but a hollow, empty feeling; it will never achieve anything. You may climb to the top of whatever heap you aspire to, and gain the admiration and attention of all the world, but if you have not found this secret, your life will be unsatisfying to you, and of no use whatever to God.
The Son can do nothing of his own accord.
Jesus does not mean that it is impossible for him to do something apart from the Father, any more than it is impossible for us to do things apart from God. We can, and we do—Jesus could have as well. Further on in this account he says that the Father has given him power to act
out of himself. Jesus could have created a whole universe over which he was God. He had the power to do so. But the whole point of this is, he chose never to exercise that power for his own benefit. Never! This is the explanation of his behavior in the wilderness when he was tempted by the devil to change stones into bread for his own satisfaction, to leap from the temple to gain the applause of people, or to gain the whole world for himself. He steadfastly refused to do so. That is the key. God gives his power to those who will not use it for their own benefit. That is one of the most profound secrets in Scripture.
This releasing of the power of God at any point to meet our human need is a simple, yet absolutely profound truth. Our Lord lived like this all the time. It was not merely in raising men from sick beds that he employed the power of God. He did it when he spoke to some lonely, heartsick, broken person and brought him to life and faith. It was the same power that made his words full of impact and meaning to the woman at the well who had had five husbands and was still trying to find satisfaction in living with a man without marriage. Here is the secret of power:
I cannot, I do not have anything in myself that can accomplish this thing, but God can, if he wants it done — and you obey that, it results in a visible release of power. Jesus could say to the impotent man,
Stand up, and the man was immediately on his feet.
Because Jesus was not acting of his own accord, but rather depending on His Father, His word to this man had power. Words are like sails on sailboats. If you go out in a sailboat on a still day and raise the sail it will hang there, limp and powerless. But lift that sail on a day when a strong breeze is blowing and it will fill with wind; it will begin to strain and pull and the boat will move rapidly through the water. That is what a word is like. Words are insignificant in themselves, but if they are in line with the working of God they are filled with impact and power. This is what our Lord is modeling for us.
There is so much I try to do on my own accord. Teach me, Lord, to recognize my own helplessness, trust in you and see your visible release of power.
Jesus' perfect unity with the Father is demonstrated in His perfect obedience and submission to His initiative. Are we compelled by His Love to live in complete dependence upon His power in and through us?