“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.”
Was it impossible for Jesus to do his own thing during his time on earth?
Yes and no. No because he had the ability.
Yes because it would go against his very nature. It would be sin, and Jesus couldn’t sin without ceasing to be God.
Let me say that again, to do his own thing would be sin. This is so contrary to every instinct we have, but the same truth applies to you and me. To do our own thing, to forge our own way rather than being dependent on God for our every move and breathe, is sin. Not only that, but it is foolishness. Do we think of it that way? Not usually. We applaud those who do their own thing, who rely on their own strength. We are supposed to create our own destiny, make our own happiness. Look out for ourselves because no one else is going to look out for us. Frank Sinatra says “I did it my way.”
What does it look like to follow, rather than to rely on our own strength?
Of course, it is just that. Following. But to be a good follower, we have to be push down our pride and be humble. We have to put the needs of another before ourselves.
Yesterday morning, our furnace broke. My husband came home early from work to try to fix it. He made a dozen or so trips up and down the stairs, and I made a dozen or so trips down to the basement to check on the kids or do laundry or what have you. Every time, and I am not kidding, every time, I saw him, I thought of something very “important” that I needed to tell him. Mind you, it was information that seemed very important to me. Ok, let’s just be honest. Even I knew that the information was not important and that I just wanted to be a jabbermouth. But those words burned on my tongue. Things like, “Hey honey, the baby did the cutest thing today” or “Would you rather that I made white or wheat bread for dinner tonight” or “I just talked to my sister-in-law and here’s what she had to say.” My husband was trying to concentrate, problem solve, and fix a real problem for our family. He needed the space to do that. He needed me to support him by keeping the kids in line, and not distracting him. And so I swallowed back these important words and I did not share all kinds of useless information with him. Though I couldn’t help him fix the furnace, I could be about my husband’s business. I could support him. I could put his needs, his goals, his plans and actions above my own.
I know that this is a silly example, but it seems to fit. How often do I have my own petty goals or priorities rather than being like-minded with God?
This was the problem the Pharisees had. Look again at verse 37-47.
The Pharisees had good intentions. They were diligent about studying the Scriptures. They sought to understand them and to obey them. But they did it apart from God. They were studying words on a page, rather than the words of God. They were seeking their own way to heaven, rather than the way that God would provide. They were looking for a Messiah of their own design, rather than the Messiah God had sent to them. They sought the praise of man rather than the praise of God. They were viewing Scripture through the lens of their own understanding, rather than opening their hearts to what Scripture was really saying.
Oh, I am so guilty of doing this! How often do I sit in church, listening intently to the sermon and when something challenging arises, I think immediately of who else it pertains to? Oh, I hope my husband is listening to this. I sure wish so and so was here today. How could I put this message into words children can understand so I can pass it along to my children? I just think those things because I care so much about the people around me, right? No, I often want to deflect the Word of God off of me and onto pretty much anything else. It is easy also to sit and read a chapter of Scripture without really absorbing it. Or as a Bible study teacher, it is easy to examine a chapter and want to teach it by twisting it just enough to suit my own purposes.
This is what sin is! Sin is about so much more than the big things, though it is that too. But every bit as dangerous, perhaps even more so, is this constant temptation to do it my way, rather than God’s way.
Jesus never did. Jesus always did the work of the Father. He did nothing by himself. He does the Father’s work because he loves his Father, and because he knows that the Father is only good. It was this constant obedience, this alignment with God, these constant good works that provided the most powerful testimony of who Jesus was, that he was God himself. He did what God does, he did the work of the Father, he looked just like God, and that was because he was and is God.
Just as Jesus acknowledged that he depended totally on God the Father, we are to depend totally on Him. Though we face constant temptation to rely on ourselves and to follow in the footsteps of the Pharisees – trying to earn our own way into heaven, being tempted to read the Word of God the way we want to hear it, we must fight the temptation and abide in Him.
Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”