"For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in himself." (John 5:26)
What does Jesus mean by 'life'?This statement has been grossly misunderstood by sectarian teachers who have taught this means that Jesus is God. Let's clarify Jesus' words:
"Life," derived from the Greek ζωή refers not just to vitality or being animated. It refers to a fullness of existence - "spiritual life" according to the lexicon. It refers to being spiritually satisfied, in other words. This indicates that God is satisfied within Himself. He does not need others to complete Himself. He is already complete. He is already full within Himself.
This contrasts to the notion of being "dead," which Jesus previously defined:
"Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.” (Matthew 8:22)Jesus is saying that being "dead" is the state of existence where a person is empty within themselves. This emptiness pervades the physical world, as we are constantly searching for something that will complete us. We are constantly looking for something that will fulfill us. Such a situation can be figuratively referred to as lifeless.
Are we fulfilled?We seek fulfillment in the wrong places. We seek fulfillment in the temporary physical elements. We seek fulfillment in temporary possessions, which will one day be taken from us. We seek fulfillment in food, which will simply digest and turn into feces.
We seek fulfillment in fame, which dries up with the whims of the crowd's attention (e.g., "15 minutes of fame"). We seek fulfillment in our physical body, which will grow old, become diseased, and die.
We seek fulfillment in family, whose members grow old and move away, and eventually die. We seek fulfillment in a nice house we might call "home," which eventually crumbles or gets taken away by the bank.
None of these temporary forms and things of the physical world bring us fulfillment. This is because we are spiritual by nature. Our only source of fulfillment is to return to our original loving relationship with the Supreme Being. This is why we spend out lives in a constant search for love. We are looking for our lost loving relationship with God.
Will loving God fulfill us?Loving God is the only thing that will complete us. When we return to our relationship with God, we return to the purpose for our creation.
This is because we were created by God to exchange a loving relationship with Him. This is our purpose.
Jesus then states that God grants His loving servant the ability to become fulfilled and complete ("so He has granted the son to have life"). "Son" is translated from the Greek word υἱός. This can only mean a relationship of offspring (father/son) in a "restricted sense" according to the lexicon.
In Jesus' context, it relates to his loving service relationship with God, as taken from the Greek lexicon, is "one who depends on another or is his follower."
In other words, the correct translation* is that Jesus is identifying himself as God's loving servant and representative.
So Jesus is indicating that he has become fulfilled or complete because God has granted him the ability to have a loving relationship with God.
Who will grant us life?The word "granted" in Jesus' statement comes from the Greek word δίδωμι (didōmi) - meaning "to give" and "to bestow a gift." This indicates that Jesus, and the rest of us, are all dependent upon the Supreme Being to grant us the ability to return to our relationship with Him. We can work hard and be determined, but ultimately it is God that grants us this fulfillment.
By Jesus admitting that God "has granted" him the ability to have "life," we know that Jesus is not God. God does not need anyone to grant Him anything. God has all power. God has every ability.
God also does not need to die on a cross in order to save people. God can save a person simply by granting that person to be saved. This is why Jesus recommended his students ask God to forgive their sins in the Lord's Prayer.
Thus we find that the Supreme Being wants each of us to decide we want to return to Him. A loving relationship requires freedom, so we have to first want to return to our loving relationship with God. Once we want it, God will arrange for us to progress spiritually until we are ready.
And the purpose for Jesus' sacrifice on the cross? It wasn't to automatically save anyone who stares at the cross. It was to show how a loving servant of God is willing to give up his life to please God and teach God's message. This ultimate sacrifice illustrates to a person just how important our relationship with God is.
While we may not be able to be so committed to God, we can at least be shown by example how committed one can be. This realization has the ability to save us because it humbles us and draws us closer to God and allows us to become determined to return to our loving relationship with the Supreme Being. This determination is what will save us.
*Here is the translation of this verse according to the Lost Gospels of Jesus:
"For as the Creator has life in Himself, so He grants His Representative life in Himself." (John 5:26)