It is necessary for us to see that Jesus Himself lived in the constant awareness of how much He needed the help and strength of God, His own Father. This is shown to us clearly in His encounter with the Jewish religious leaders recorded in chapter five of the Gospel of John. Here’s the scenario: Jesus has just healed a crippled man in a wonderful way, and the Jews are upset because He did it on the Sabbath day. Jewish tradition and religious legalism had turned the day of rest into a spiritual and social prison by restricting activity instead of calling the people to a day of intimate communion with God designed to bring rest to their bodies, souls, and spirits. So, when Jesus revealed the tender mercy of God by healing this man on the Sabbath, the Jewish leaders missed the whole point, and were furious.
When they questioned Him about the event, Jesus’ reason for healing him was a surprising one:
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. (John 5:19)
Here’s the startling truth of this confession: Jesus, the Son of God, is declaring that He can do nothing on His own initiative! The most powerful man in the universe is admitting that He has no strength unless the Father gives it to Him! Then Jesus goes on in the next verse to reveal the delightful dimension of intimacy with His Father that releases this strength and authority in His life:
For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself does; and He will show Him greater works than these, that you may marvel. (John 5:20)
It is so important that we grasp what is being shown us here! Jesus, the ultimate man, is declaring that He has no ability to do anything on His own. Jesus can’t do anything for God! All He can do is what God gives Him the strength to do in the context of their intimate friendship. He is completely dependent upon His love relationship with His Father to know what to do, and to have the ability to do it. This is poverty of spirit at its best, and the example is given to us that we might embrace the same reality in our lives.