Jesus rejects equality with God - How does this statement reconcile with traditional teachings? It doesn't.
The 'equality' teaching is indeed a tradition.
If Christ was not convincing enough in John 17, other writings especially Isaiah 40:25 leave no room for options, as also Christ says that scripture cannot be broken.
"To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?" says the Holy One.
There are 2 things to qualify first before embarking on illustrating how Christ is, or not, 'equal' to the Father;
A. The term 'God'
B. The phrase 'equal with God'
A The term 'God'
In the spirit, essence is directly related to power.
I am the LORD, and there is none else, there is no God beside me: I girded thee, though thou hast not known me:
The Father is saying there are gods indeed, but none in all His creation is like Him.
Messiah says in John 10;
34 Jesus replied, “Is it not written in your Law: ‘I have said you are gods’?
35 If he(ultimately the Father) called them gods to whom the word of God came — and the Scripture cannot be broken
36 then what about the One whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world? How then can you accuse Me of blasphemy for stating that I am the Son of God?
Now compare Psalm 8:5,
Yet You have made him a little lower than God, And You crown him with glory and majesty!
Job 40:15, on the issue of 'making' man alongside that of another entity;
“Behold, Behemoth, which I made as I made you; he eats grass like an ox,
It's the same notion in Psalm 8:5 where man is contrasted to the entity 'god,' whose coming into existence is attributed to the Father just as man's is.
The inference is that there are 'gods' since the Father cannot contradict His word and all are because of Him, so often the term 'god' is an allusion to essense.
B Equal with God
The mist in the term equal with God then clears, making it to be true or false on the back of what scriptures above indicate as the position and nature of the Father, alongside that of gods who are by the same Father.
The question now is what do they mean by 'equality' if God in this phrase refers to the Father?
"Make them one even as we are One" and "I and the Father are one" don't make Messiah equal to the Father, rather, they depict both being of the same mind to achieve that for which Messiah is in flesh.
As also it should be obvious that the former saying doesn't mean that believers in Christ get to be equal.
Messiah is a highly distinguished 'Son of God', this makes Him God by essence, and when in the throne of the Father, He is God by title.
In Job 40, the Father describes the capabilities of an entity with a title of God.
9 Hast thou an arm like God? or canst thou thunder with a voice like him?
10 Deck thyself now with majesty and excellency; and array thyself with glory and beauty.
11 Cast abroad the rage of thy wrath: and behold every one that is proud, and abase him.
12 Look on every one that is proud, and bring him low; and tread down the wicked in their place.
13 Hide them in the dust together; and bind their faces in secret.
14 Then will I also confess unto thee that thine own right hand can save thee.
This is what is ascribed to entities labelled as Elohim, the same beings in Psalm 82:1
Yet even with all the preferment, Messiah categorically indicates many times that in His capacity He is only doing the Father's commandment and will.
In the famous I am ascending to My Father and your Father, to My God and your God, as well as in Revelation, when Messiah and the Father are in the same circumstances as opposed to Him being in flesh while the Father was in heaven, Messiah still refers to the Father as 'my God'.
Be alert and strengthen what remains, which is about to die, for I have not found your works complete before My God.
Messiah was given to believers to be 'worshipped. To 'worship' means essentially to fashion a heart's desires after a doctrine or way of life, and messiah's words aren't His words but the Father's ultimately. So, He's worshipped as the Father is also worshipped;
And in places like Hosea is where all this was foretold.
5 Afterward the sons of Israel will return and seek the LORD their God and David their king; and they will come trembling to the LORD and to His goodness in the last days.
David is a messianic reference, as also the term seek is peculiar to issues of the heart of man. The same seeking is in;
You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. SO the children of Israel in the days of this 'David' will seek David as well as the LORD at one and the same time in the last days, a time unique associated with the start of Messianic duties.
In John 17 Messiah refers to the 'glory' that He had with the Father before the world begun, which existence before the world begun is mistaken for equality with the Father.
So Jesus rejects equality with God is a true statement as many scriptures indicate and therefore it conflicts with the traditional teaching of the 'Father being equal with His Servant.