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February 13th, 2020

Good day, everyone! This session we're opening again to our series in John, continuing with our Lord's confrontation with the Jewish leaders in John 10. I'm glad you've come along!

Joy to you in Christ,
Pastor Paul

 
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Blasphemy or Unbelief?

John 10:31-39


Greetings

Greetings, everybody! Welcome to Thursday’s edition of EDiBS, and God’s blessings of joy and peace to each of you today in our Lord Jesus. It’s great to have you along as we study our Bibles together, and I pray that as we open the Scriptures over these next few minutes, we’ll all be expecting great things from our Savior, who is always ready to lavish us with His gifts!  We’re continuing on in John 10 today, so if you’ll find your place, we’ll pray and begin.

 

Prayer 

Father, thank you for your love – lavished upon us to overflowing, and never-ending because you are its source. We are grateful for the way you have come into our lives, and we pray now that you will draw us closer to you as a result of being in your Word. Please bless our study time. This we pray in Christ’s holy name, amen. 

 

Getting Started 

As we get started today, things are starting to go downhill once again as Jesus and the Jewish leaders tangle with each other. Our focus: Blasphemy...or unbelief? 

 

John 10:31-39 

31Again the Jews picked up stones to stone him, 32but Jesus said to them, "I have shown you many great miracles from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?" 33"We are not stoning you for any of these," replied the Jews, "but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God." 34Jesus answered them, "Is it not written in your Law, 'I have said you are gods'? 35If he called them 'gods,' to whom the word of God came—and the Scripture cannot be broken— 36what about the one whom the Father set apart as his very own and sent into the world? Why then do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said, 'I am God's Son'? 37Do not believe me unless I do what my Father does. 38But if I do it, even though you do not believe me, believe the miracles, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father." 39Again they tried to seize him, but he escaped their grasp. 

 

Over the many years that we’ve been doing EDiBS, we’ve occasionally come to passages of Scripture which are hard to understand; verses, or groupings of verses, that are just plain hard to get ahold of. Today’s reading here in John 10 happens to be another one of those passages, but it is unique on two counts: the first portion of this passage actually clears up an earlier ambiguity for us, and the second part introduces a new one! Let’s see if we can make sense of what God is saying to us through John. 

 

Verses 31-33: First off, in picking up the narrative at verse 31, let’s remember how yesterday’s passage ended: Having given an explicit presentation of the fact that eternal life is given by the Son, Jesus finished up that mini-Gospel sermon by declaring for the umpteenth time that He and the Father are One. Over the past several chapters...every time those words or that concept has come up... I’ve told you that for the people listening to Jesus, that statement on His part would be taken by them as nothing less than a claim to be God. But some of you have wondered about that, because to you the actual wording has never seemed to be unequivocal; it’s never seemed to cross the threshold of finality for you. I’ve shared with you that for those Jewish listeners hearing the words of Jesus in their particular theological and cultural context, it wasn’t even a question. The declaration of deity was, for them, as plain as day. Yet still the question wasn’t answered to your satisfaction. We have been dealing, it seems, with an issue whose clarity has been lost in translation. Well — in the first half of today’s passage, any remaining ambiguity on that issue is now thankfully washed away. 

 

After declaring again that He and the Father are One, the Jews pick up stones to kill Jesus. Why? Not because of the miracles He’s done…not even the Sabbath miracles! No, the Jews tell Jesus in verse 33 that the reason they’re intent on stoning Him is because of blasphemy – that He, a mere man, claims to be God. So there we have it. That perception on their part has now been made utterly clear to us, and what is equally compelling is that in response to this charge, our Lord Jesus does not attempt to correct them. Just as He willingly received worship from the blind man whom He made to see, He now lets this charge on the part of the religious leaders in His midst hang uncomfortably in mid-air. In fact, instead of refuting this charge, Jesus will now proceed to anchor it. Not through any man-made argument, but by using the example of the Scriptures themselves. Yes, I AM God, Jesus says...and one way or the other, you’ve got to come to terms with that truth. That, incidentally, is what introduces our second conundrum of the day, so let’s move into the next section and work our way through it. 

 

Verses 34-36: Let’s start by simply repeating what Jesus says in verses 34-36. In response to the Jewish leaders’ charge of blasphemy, our Lord says this: 

 

34 “…Is it not written in your Law, 'I have said you are gods'? 35If He called them 'gods,' to whom the word of God came—and the Scripture cannot be broken— 36what about the One whom the Father set apart as His very own and sent into the world? Why then do you accuse Me of blasphemy because I said, 'I am God's Son'? 

 

What Jesus is referring to here is those places in the Old Testament where Almighty God, due to the authority He had given them in their office, called His earthly judges “gods” (note the little ‘g’). The judges in Psalm 82, for example, are called gods. In Exodus 21 and 22 we see the same moniker ascribed to earthly judges. 

 

The point, says our Lord, is that if God gave these judges the title ‘gods’ because of their office  — mere men and women, and sinful men and women at that — why should the Jews consider it blasphemy that Jesus calls Himself the 'Son of God' in light of His testimony and His works? Let’s be clear: Jesus is not taking the statement "you are gods" in Psalm 82 and applying it to all humanity, or to all believers. The use of ‘gods' in Exodus and the Psalms was a metaphor — and Jesus is using it here to expose both the ignorance and inconsistency of His accusers. As commentator David Guzik emphasizes regarding this passage, Jesus is saying that His words and His actions give all the testimony needed that He is indeed the One sent to be the Messiah for the world. 

 

Verses 37-39: In the final three verses of the text today. Jesus completes His argument. If the Jews could show that Jesus did not do the works of His Father, then they would do right to disbelieve and declare Him a blasphemer. However, if Jesus was doing the works of His Father but the Jews still had trouble accepting His claims as God’s own Son, then they should at least believe the works and conclude from them that Jesus was of one essence with the Father. By believing Jesus’ works, the Jews would by that route come to know and realize more and more that the Father was in Jesus and Jesus was in the Father. Through His works they would ultimately find His words to be true. 

 

Wrapping Up 

As we wrap things up for the day, what we find in closing is that as reasonable as that line of argumentation is coming from our Lord Jesus, it is nonetheless one that is not received by His opponents. Instead, our Lord’s words only fuel the fire of their hatred for Him and His message. The passage ends the same way it began: with the Jews attempting to seize Him. 

 

As you get ready to head out and go on with the rest of your day, think about this: Jesus, all through this Gospel narrative thus far, has not once called out for a blind, unreasoned faith. Instead He has called for an intelligent, eyes-wide-open belief in who He is and what He has come to do. There are no secrets; it has been, and is, and will continue to be, all out on the table for you and me to consider. Hear the reasoned words of Christ today from this passage and take them to heart. I’m confident that in doing so, you’ll find much to draw you in to our Almighty God. 

 

Have a terrific day everyone, and I’ll see you back here tomorrow to close out the week. Until then, God’s rich blessings to you in Christ, and do take care! 

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