"... the Son can do nothing by himself ..." (John 5:19)

For this reason they tried all the more to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God. Jesus gave them this answer: "Very truly I tell you, 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." (John 5:18-19)

Is Jesus talking about himself and God?

Many have misinterpreted this as the "son" being Jesus and the "father" being God. This is why the capitalization has been added by later translators.

Yes, this is essentially the message - that Jesus is referring to his relationship with God. But if Jesus was referring strictly to himself here, why wouldn't he say something like:
"Very truly I tell you, I can do nothing by myself; I can do only what I see my Father doing, because whatever the Father does I also do."
Certainly, this would be a more appropriate statement for Jesus to make if he was referring specifically to himself.

But he wasn't. Jesus was referring to a role - not a specific individual. Yes, he was admitting that he was in that role - but this role was not exclusively himself, or else he would have just said "Jesus" or "me."

Did Jesus really say "son"?

Of course, Jesus was not speaking English here. He was most likely speaking Aramaic, which was translated into Greek in the early Gospels.

The English word "son" is translated from the Greek word υἱός (huios). According to the lexicon, this can only be defined as an offspring relationship (father/son), "in a restricted sense, the male offspring (one born by a father and of a mother)."

Indeed, the word υἱός (huios) has another meaning. It can mean, according to the lexicon, "one who depends on another or is his follower."

Think about this. What is a person who depends upon another or is that person's follower?

This would more practically be defined as being a devoted follower.

Yes, Jesus is speaking of those who have devoted their lives to the Supreme Being. He is not speaking of a physical offspring. And this completely fits Jesus' statement, "the son [devoted follower] can do nothing by himself."

Certainly this is what a devoted follower of God does - he follows God and only does what is pleasing to God.

Does God have only one son?

Another way to look at this issue of Jesus as "son" is to ask this question. The reason is because many sectarian interpreters have indeed considered Jesus to be the only "son" of God. Yet Bible completely contradicts the notion that Jesus is the only "son" of God (the term [devoted followers] has been added for translation clarification:
When human beings began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them the sons [devoted followers] of God saw that the daughters of humans were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose. (Genesis 6:2)
The Nephilim were on the earth in those days—and also afterward—when the sons [devoted followers] of God went to the daughters of humans and had children by them. They were the heroes of old, men of renown. (Genesis 6:4)
Now there was a day when the sons [devoted followers] of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them. (Job 1:6)
Again there was a day when the sons [devoted followers] of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them to present himself before the LORD. (Job 2:1)
When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons [devoted followers] of God shouted for joy? (Job 38:7)
"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons [devoted followers] of God." (Matt. 6:9)
But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons [devoted followers] of God, even to them that believe on his name (John 1:12)
For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons [devoted followers] of God. (Romans 8:14)
For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons [devoted followers] of God. (Romans 8:19)
You are all sons [devoted followers] of God through faith in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:26)
We can see the clear message of each of these verses above when the word "sons" is replaced by "devoted followers." It makes sense in every instance, whereas the word "sons" is confusing, because "sons" is associated with being a male offspring of a physical father.

Does it even make sense that God could only have one son? Most human males can have multiple sons. And God can only have one? Such a notion that God only has one son is preposterous.

The fact is, the Supreme Being has created so many children that it boggles the mind. He is unlimited in His potency to create, and "begot" children.

However, Jesus' use of "son" applies further to creation. He is speaking of a relationship where one becomes a devoted follower of God. A devotee of God. A lover of God.

Jesus' metaphor discusses dependency

Jesus' metaphor, which followed, "I tell you the truth," was told to his followers because each of them had the opportunity to regain their relationship with God and become dedicated to God. This would affect the type of relationship that Jesus is speaking of:

Taking shelter of God. Becoming dependent upon God.

Such is the opportunity for each of us. Any of us can choose to take shelter in God and become one of God's dependents. One of God's lovers. This is what Jesus is trying to teach his students.

Jesus was also illustrating that indeed, he is to be included as someone who has taken shelter in God. Jesus was responding to those wanting to criticize Jesus, saying that Jesus was putting himself equal to God (John 5:17). Jesus clarified that because he (and any of God's loving servants) is dedicated and dependent upon God, the actions of God's loving servants simply reflect God's will.

This occurs in any loving relationship. A person who loves another will do the will of and act on behalf of the one they love. This is the essence of Jesus' life and the essence of Jesus' relationship with God.