There are two themes in John’s Gospel that may appear to be contradictory, but together teach an important lesson about the Christian life.
The first theme is the divinity of Christ. The Gospel begins and ends with two statements that Jesus is God. They act like bookends for the Gospel. The very first verse reads, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1). And near the end of the book, we read Thomas’ exclamation, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28). In-between are several others statements meant to lead you to that conclusion, such as Jesus is the source of creation (John 1:3), eternal life (John 1:4; 14:6), and the judge of the cosmos (John 5:22). Who else does that describe but God?
The second theme is Jesus’ inability to do anything on His own. “I can of Myself do nothing” (John 5:30). His words, works, and will, were all dependent upon the Father working in and through Him (John 5:19; 7:16; 12:49; 14:10).
Are those two themes contradictory?
If Jesus was God, couldn’t He do anything?
They key is to remember that the Son of God became a man. A real man. The Word of God became flesh (John 1:14). And in that process, He voluntarily humbled Himself (Phil 2:7). He lived as a true man would live.
Of course, Jesus performed many miraculous acts. He cured the sick, stilled the storms, and raised the dead. But Jesus did not do those things using the divine powers that belonged to Him by nature. He didn’t do those works using His own innate powers as the Son of God. He could have. But he did not. Instead, Jesus made a point of teaching that He depended on the Father’s power for everything (John 14:10, 11, 20).
In other words, Jesus lived as humanity was originally designed to live.
You were never meant to live independent of God. On the contrary, you were created to depend on Him for everything.
A light bulb is supposed to depend on electricity. An engine is supposed to depend on gas. And you were supposed to depend on God’s power. Without it, you cannot function normally. As Major Ian Thomas wrote, “He so engineered us that the presence of the Creator within the creature is indispensable to our humanity” (The Indwelling Life of Christ, 28).
This becomes a key theme in Jesus’ discipleship teaching in the last supper. That’s why He promised to send the Holy Spirit to indwell the disciples. They, too, would learn to become totally dependent on God. “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you” (John 14:16-17).
Jesus is the picture of normal humanity. Are you normal, too?