So Jesus answered them, “I tell you the solemn truth, the Son can do nothing on his own initiative, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, the Son does likewise. For the Father loves the Son and shows him everything he does, and will show him greater deeds than these, so that you will be amazed. For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whomever he wishes. Furthermore, the Father does not judge anyone, but has assigned all judgment to the Son, so that all people will honor the Son just as they honor the Father. The one who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him. (John 5:19-23 — NET)
Jesus had just got through healing a man that had been disabled and unable to walk for 38 years, but the Jews were unhappy because this miracle had been done on the Sabbath—a day of rest for the Jews. Their religious blindness made them condemn Jesus for “working” on the Sabbath, when Jesus knew that this was not breaking the Sabbath—if anything, more healings should have been performed on that day, it was a day for worshipping God.
When Jesus says that the Son can do nothing on His own initiative… the point He is making is that the Father and Son are so close that one would not do something that the other would not approve of. In other words, the Father agreed with His healing on the Sabbath. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are one; there is perfect union between the three. But, if we are truly God’s children, shouldn’t we be able to say the same about our lives? When we belong to God we no longer have desires that are exclusively our own… any desire we have will include God and His plans in some way or another. When we belong to Him there is unity between us and God. On the other hand, when our plans and desires are in conflict with God’s, or when we don’t take His plans seriously, we can be sure that we do not belong to Him.
Father, Son, and Spirit cannot be separated. We cannot believe in one and not in the other two. God is a package, and we have to obey and love all three persons. Any person or church that tells you anything different is dangerous and unbalanced. They are basing their faith on sand, not on the rock.
Though this passage applies to us, it does not mean that we should relax and let God do everything for us. We need to have initiative—that is what faith is about—but our initiative will not conflict with God’s. Since we are His, what we fight for and believe in, what is most precious to us, will also be what God fights for, believes in, and what He considers precious.