John 10:31 – 42
31 Once again the people picked up stones to kill him. 32 Jesus said, “At my Father’s direction I have done many good works. For which one are you going to stone me?” 33 They replied, “We’re stoning you not for any good work, but for blasphemy! You, a mere man, claim to be God.”
34 Jesus replied, “It is written in your own Scriptures that God said to certain leaders of the people, ‘I say, you are gods!’ 35 And you know that the Scriptures cannot be altered. So if those people who received God’s message were called ‘gods,’ 36 why do you call it blasphemy when I say, ‘I am the Son of God’? After all, the Father set me apart and sent me into the world.
37 Don’t believe me unless I carry out my Father’s work. 38 But if I do his work, believe in the evidence of the miraculous works I have done, even if you don’t believe me. Then you will know and understand that the Father is in me, and I am in the Father.”
39 Once again they tried to arrest him, but he got away and left them. 40 He went beyond the Jordan River near the place where John was first baptizing and stayed there awhile. 41 And many followed him. “John didn’t perform miraculous signs,” they remarked to one another, “but everything he said about this man has come true.” 42 And many who were there believed in Jesus.
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This is a very difficult passage to understand as there is so much going on here that is tied in together with the history and the theology of the Jewish people. Take for example the reaction of the crowd in verse 31. What in the world had Jesus done that prompted the people to pick up stones and want to kill him? And we are not talking little pebbles here, but large stones as big as a grapefruit. It wouldn’t take many of these to hit a man and kill him.
We must look back at the previous verse, where Jesus said in verse 30, “I and the Father are One.” It was quickly understood by the Jews that Jesus was not talking about sharing the same purpose of God, but rather the very identity or being of God. And that would go against one of their most sacred Scriptures of Deuteronomy 6:4, “Hear O Israel, the LORD of God, the LORD is one,” and the First Commandment of Exodus 20:2, “You shall have no other gods besides Me.”
Now if we look at the history of Israel after they came out of Egypt in the book of Exodus, we see that they were not very good about keeping these commandments, for they fell so easily into worshipping the many Canaanite gods when they took over the land of Palestine. They eventually suffered deportation to Babylon and slavery for their polytheistic practices.
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When they came back from the Exile seventy years later though, they became (for the most) a very devout, even fanatical, monotheistic people. They had recognized that their worship of false gods had brought about their captivity. So they would have been greatly opposed to anyone suggesting that any other person other than YHWH (the LORD) could be His equal and worthy of worship and obedience.
The people there had finally caught clearly what Jesus had been alluding to for some time, namely that He was talking about Himself as if He were in fact God. That’s why they wanted to kill him. Jesus quickly pointed out again, just like in our last passage, that the miracles that He had been doing should have been enough testimony to His divinity, or at least that God had sent Him to earth as His representative.
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The people did not accept this though, so Jesus did something that was very Jewish in nature. He used the Old Testament Scriptures to back up His claim. This is explained well in “The Translator’s Handbook”:
to assume that Jesus is doing no more than claiming an equal status with the people addressed in that Psalm is to miss the entire point of the passage. Jesus’ argument is, in fact, a typically rabbinical one by which the speaker argues from the lesser to the greater.
According to the rabbis, Psalm 82 was addressed to Israel when they received the Law at Mount Sinai. Jesus’ argument proceeds in this way. If those persons who received God’s Law on Mount Sinai could be spoken of as “gods,” how much more can the one whom the Father has chosen and sent into the world claim to be “the Son of God.”
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I believe that Jesus’ argument for his divinity is logically sound. But we have to realize that a belief in Jesus as being an equal partner in the Godhead, such that He can say, “the Father is in Me and I am in the Father,” has to accepted at a faith level, and not just at an intellectual level. There is so much about God, and His nature, that we will never really understand. At least not until we get to eternity beyond this life.
The question is whether we can accept what Jesus claimed about Himself, or if we dismiss it from the beginning as impossible. If we are open to consider His claims, then the rest of the story about Jesus’ life, His recorded miracles, the idea of being resurrected back from the dead, also become possible to us.
It is my belief that there is enough corroborating testimony and evidence that what Jesus claimed that He could and would do actually did happen as recorded in the Gospels. And if He could perform acts (like the miracles, and especially His resurrection) that speak of divine powers, then I can accept His testimony about Himself, that He is in fact Divine. What do you think?
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