For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself (John 5:26).
“Life in himself”… what does that mean? Whatever it is, Jesus has it because the Father has it; and the Father has granted Jesus to have it.
As always, the context of the passage clarifies the mysterious statement. Let’s examine the complete record of the full statement Jesus said:
25“Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. 26For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. 27And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man. 28Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice 29and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment (John 5:25-29, ESV).
First, one can notice Jesus is speaking about the resurrection of the dead. Apparent from other passages, the resurrection was a touchy subject in His earthly day (Matthew 22:23, 29-32, 27:52; Mark 12:18, 24-27; Luke 20:27, 34-38; John 5:28-29; Acts 4:2, 17:18, 23:8, 24:15, 26:8; 1 Corinthians 15; Revelation 20:12-13; Daniel 12:2).
Jesus not only affirms the prophetic phenomenon of the resurrection, but also, He makes Himself the source of that resurrection when he says, “the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God.”
Because Jesus is the eternal second Person of the Godhead, He always has had the ability to merely speak, and things come into existence and hold together (Genesis 1-2; John 1; Romans 1:20; Colossians 1:15-20). That is power, and it certainly is a result of Jesus’ having life within Himself.
SON OF GOD & SON OF MAN
Jesus’ earthly existence also has everything to do with His declaration of having life in Himself. The second Person of the Trinity has always existed. There are many temporal appearances and self-revelations by Him in the Old Testament (John 1:15, 8:58). But, there was a point “in time,” when YHWH took on the labels of the Son of God (John 3:16) & the Son of Man. The second Person of the Trinity became incarnate, robed with untainted humanity. That event brought a new species to the earth, with unique genetics and composition. Hence, He is the Son of God, the “only begotten of the Father.”
The title “Son of Man” is both a prophets’ title (Ezekiel 30:2) and a label, which indicates the human side of the God-Man. At the point the second Person of the Trinity was incarnated, the God-Man, Jesus of Nazareth, became the first human being to possess the power to create life by His words. Whereas before He exercised that power as a Spirit in Heavenly realms and affecting the temporal realm, now He exercises that power as a human being.
Because Jesus is the Son of God, the Father, He has life within Himself and is able to merely speak in order to raise the dead. He is God. Because Jesus is human—the Son of Man—He was able to atone for the sin of mankind and then be resurrected from the dead by the will of the Father and the Power of the Spirit. In that way, He is the “first fruits of those who sleep” (1 Corinthians 15:20).
Jesus is the highest ranking human, having tasted death only to defeat it, because… you guessed it…. He has life within Himself. What is more, He is the only human to have power enough to grant life again to whomever He pleases. All those in Christ shall rise again!
What is your superpower of choice? For Jesus of Nazareth, it is the power not only to create life with his words but also to bring those who have died back to life again!