If we were placed on trial for being a believer of Jesus, what evidence would counsel present to the judge and jury? What behaviors would they show to prove we follow Jesus daily, asking for His will to be done in His ways, in His time, for His glory? What would they say about our words said causally in conversations or on Facebook with our friends and family members, to people who serve as in the marketplace, to strangers on the street or to foreigners who take up residence in our country to find peace and a better life?
Who are our witnesses? What would our witnesses who say about how we live our lives? What would they say about how we love and treat others not like us? What would they say about our ability and power to forgive those oppose us, hurt and persecute us physically and/or with malicious gossip and sarcasm?
What would they say about our ability to love?
I think these thoughts as we read this passage. The Jewish leaders are circling Jesus like bullies on the playground. The are accusing Jesus of blasphemy. What is that exactly, you ask? According to Webster, blasphemy “is the act of insulting or showing contempt or lack of reverence for God. It involves the act of claiming the attributes of a deity with irreverence toward something considered sacred or inviolable.” Jesus proves them right by the evidence of His actions, but they still did not believe Him. Wait, what?! Read on…
John 10:22-42, The Message
22-24 They were celebrating Hanukkah just then in Jerusalem. It was winter. Jesus was strolling in the Temple across Solomon’s Porch. The Jews, circling him, said, “How long are you going to keep us guessing? If you’re the Messiah, tell us straight out.”
25-30 Jesus answered, “I told you, but you don’t believe. Everything I have done has been authorized by my Father, actions that speak louder than words. You don’t believe because you’re not my sheep. My sheep recognize my voice. I know them, and they follow me. I give them real and eternal life. They are protected from the Destroyer for good. No one can steal them from out of my hand. The Father who put them under my care is so much greater than the Destroyer and Thief. No one could ever get them away from him. I and the Father are one heart and mind.”
31-32 Again the Jews picked up rocks to throw at him. Jesus said, “I have made a present to you from the Father of a great many good actions. For which of these acts do you stone me?”
33 The Jews said, “We’re not stoning you for anything good you did, but for what you said—this blasphemy of calling yourself God.”
34-38 Jesus said, “I’m only quoting your inspired Scriptures, where God said, ‘I tell you—you are gods.’ If God called your ancestors ‘gods’—and Scripture doesn’t lie—why do you yell, ‘Blasphemer! Blasphemer!’ at the unique One the Father consecrated and sent into the world, just because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’? If I don’t do the things my Father does, well and good; don’t believe me. But if I am doing them, put aside for a moment what you hear me say about myself and just take the evidence of the actions that are right before your eyes. Then perhaps things will come together for you, and you’ll see that not only are we doing the same thing, we are the same—Father and Son. He is in me; I am in him.”
39-42 They tried yet again to arrest him, but he slipped through their fingers. He went back across the Jordan to the place where John first baptized, and stayed there. A lot of people followed him over. They were saying, “John did no miracles, but everything he said about this man has come true.” Many believed in him then and there.
WHAT WE LEARN—The Case: Jewish Leaders vs. Christ
The leaders surrounded Jesus in the temple so that He had to stop and listen to them. They had decided that it was time for a “showdown,” and they did not want Him to evade the issue any longer. “How long are You going to hold us in suspense?” they kept saying to Him. “Tell us plainly—are You the Messiah?”
Jesus reminded them of what He had already taught them. He emphasized the witness of His words (“I told you”) and His works (see John 5:17, and 7:14 for similar replies).
Jesus reveals to the Jewish leaders why they did not understand His words or grasp the significance of His works: they were not His sheep. From the human standpoint, we become His sheep by believing, but from the divine standpoint, we believe because we are His sheep. There is a mystery here that we cannot fathom or explain, but we can accept it and rejoice (Rom. 11:33–36). God has His sheep and He knows who they are. They will hear His voice and respond.
Jesus went on to explain that His sheep are secure in His hand and in the Father’s hand. “They shall never perish” is His promise (John 3:16; 6:39; 17:12; 18:9).
Jesus made a statement that He knew would startle His enemies and give them more reason to oppose Him (John 10:30). It was the “plain answer” that the religious leaders had asked for. “I and my Father are one” is as clear a statement of His deity as you will find anywhere in Scripture. This was even stronger than His statement that He had come down from heaven (John 6) or that He existed before Abraham ever lived (John 8:58).
Warren Wiersbe helps to explain “Oneness” in his commentary; “The word one does not suggest that the Father and the Son are identical persons. Rather, it means that they are one in essence: the Father is God and the Son is God, but the Father is not the Son and the Son is not the Father. He is speaking about unity, not identity. (See John 17:21–24 for similar language.)
The Jewish leaders, who knew The Law well but didn’t know God understood clearly what Jesus was saying! Those who heard it knew exactly what Jesus was saying: “I am God!” (Note John 10:33.) To speak this way, of course, was blasphemy, and according to Jewish belief, blasphemy had to be punished by being put to death (see Lev. 24:16; Num. 15:30ff.; Deut. 21:22).
Jesus refutes their argument with the words of Psalm 82. The “picture” in this Psalm is that of a court, where God has assembled the judges of the earth, to warn them that they too will one day be judged. The Hebrew word elohim can be translated as “god” or as “judges,” as in Exodus 21:6 and 22:8–9. It is also one of the Old Testament names for God. The Jewish rulers certainly knew their own language and they knew that Jesus was speaking the truth. If God called human judges “gods,” then why should they stone Him for applying the same title to Himself?
Evidence presented. Truth wins. Jesus is Truth.
John 10:36 is crucial because it gives a double affirmation of the deity of Christ. First, the Father sanctified (set apart) the Son and sent Him into the world, and second, Jesus stated boldly, “I am the Son of God” (see John 5:25). He gave them the “plain answer” they asked for, but they would not believe it!
Time to decide. What say you?
Do you really believe what you believe about God and His Son really real? Pause, take all the time you need to present the evidence and make a decision. It is a matter of life and death.
You continue to light the path to more and more understanding but I find the more I learn, the more I learn I need to know. Guide my thoughts all day long for I’m listening for Your voice above all others in this world. You give life. There is no one like you. You are my Shepherd. You are all I need. You let me rest in green meadows. You lead me beside peaceful streams. You renew my strength. You guide me along right paths, bringing honor to Your Name. Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me. You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You honor me by anointing my head with oil of healing. My cup overflows with your blessings. Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life and I will live in your house forever. Yes! There is NO ONE like you!
In Jesus Name, Amen