Several times in the Gospels, Jesus said or did things which demonstrated to others that He is truly God in the flesh. As we have seen in previous articles, sometimes it was a direct statement of Jesus or others affirming His divinity. However, in the passage today, it was the implication Jesus’ hearers perceived which showed His divine nature. In addition, He then claims to have the ability to do something which only God could do—raise the dead.
But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work. 18 Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God. 19 Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise. 20 For the Father loveth the Son, and sheweth him all things that himself doeth: and he will shew him greater works than these, that ye may marvel. 21 For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom he will. (John 5:17-21)
These two words, “My Father”, caused offense among the Jews. They understood this as Jesus stating that He and God were equal. In Greek, it’s the word isos, which can mean equal in either quantity or quality. Here, it is obviously quality. That’s why the Jew were upset.
In verse 19, Jesus goes on to explain that the Father’s work and His work are the same. Then Jesus tells them that they haven’t seen anything yet! (vs. 20) As a matter of fact, Jesus tells them that He can raise the dead! (vs. 21) That was something only God Himself could do. Since God created life, He can give life to whoever He wills. Likewise, Jesus said that He could do the same thing. Notice in verse 21 that Jesus states that He can quicken (make alive) whoever He (Jesus) wills.
Do not miss the significance of this. The Jews accuse Jesus of making Himself equal with God, then Jesus goes on to state that (1) the Father and the Son do the same things, (2) the Father reveals His works to the Son, and (3) the Father and the Son both have the power to accomplish them. Essentially, Jesus was telling the Jews that they were absolutely correct—He is equal with the Father.