Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him. Jesus answered them, Many good works have I shewed you from my Father; for which of those works do ye stone me? The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God. Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods? If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken; say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God? If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not. But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works: that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him. Therefore they sought again to take him: but he escaped out of their hand, And went away again beyond Jordan into the place where John at first baptized; and there he abode. And many resorted unto him, and said, John did no miracle: but all things that John spake of this man were true. And many believed on him there.
The real object, as we have seen before in the writing of this gospel, is that men might believe that Jesus is the Son of God and that believing they might have life through His name. So we have had one incident after another, all intended to make clear the Deity of our Lord Jesus Christ and His eternal relationship to the Father as the only begotten Son, who was ever one with the Father and the Spirit, both as to eternity of being and as to power and authority, wisdom, love, and grace.
We closed our previous chapter with the declaration of our Savior, “I and my Father are one” (John 10:30). Now whatever men today may understand that to mean, there can be no question that those to whom Jesus spoke understood that He was affirming definite equality with God. That was why they took up stones again to stone Him. In their eyes He was a blasphemer.
May I put it this way to you: if the Lord Jesus Christ is not God—God manifested in the flesh—then they were correct. If He is not truly God, He must have been a blasphemer, because He used language that no one but God should use. He accepted worship that should be received by no one but God. The law said, “Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve” (Matt. 4:10), and the Lord Jesus allowed His disciples to worship Him. Therefore, He took to Himself that which rightly belongs to God. Now He was either God manifest in the flesh or else a gross deceiver.
Some take another view of it and say He was a paranoiac who imagined He was divine while just a human being like others. But there was nothing about the behavior and the words of our Lord Jesus Christ to indicate one of unbalanced mind. His life was too pure, His words too wonderful, to allow us to accept that view for a moment, and we certainly cannot think of such a holy person as a deceiver. Good men do not say that which is untrue, normally. He claimed over and over again to be the Son of the Father—”I and my Father are one.”
It was because of this declaration that His enemies, in accordance with the law of Moses, which commanded that the blasphemer was to be stoned to death, took up stones to stone Him. He calmly said to them: “Many good works have I shown you from my Father; for which of those works do ye stone me?” (John 10:32). His works had manifested the truth of what He said of Himself. They had always been for the interest and good of mankind. What had He done that they should stone Him?
“The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy” (v. 33a). What was the blasphemy? “Because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God” (v. 33b). They said, “You are a man and declare yourself to be God, therefore, you are a blasphemer.” Well, the truth is that He was Man in all perfection, but He was also God—as truly Man as though He had never been God and as truly God as though He had never become Man.
But now the Lord may seem to us to beg the question when He says, “Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods? If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken; say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God?” (vv. 34-36).
What is the Lord referring to here? In Psalm 82:6, in addressing the judges of the people who stood in the place of God to act for Him, we read these words, “I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High.” It says, in the first verse of that psalm, “God standeth in the congregation of the mighty; he judgeth among the gods.” What does He mean by this? God is the Judge over all, but He appointed in Israel men who were to represent Him. The people were to bring their questions and grievances to them and they were to judge in accordance with the Word. “I have said, Ye are gods.” That is, they were there to act for God. Today all judges do not act for God. But the thought is that these were to be righteous judges, and as such they were designated “gods.” This was in their Bibles, and they never thought of that expression as blasphemy.
Now why not inquire more definitely as to what the Lord Jesus meant when He said, “I and my Father are one?” It was necessary to do this in order to understand it aright, and so the Lord Jesus practically says, “Why not consider the works that I do? Why not study your own Bibles and see if the claims that I make are not borne out by the works that I perform and by the Scriptures?” But they were not willing to do this. They jumped at conclusions, as people so often do. We have our preconceived notions and are not willing to subject our thoughts to the declarations of the Word of God. We stress our own views and ideas and reject those of the Lord.
Thus they were ready to call Him a blasphemer, whose one object in life was the glory of the Father. But now observe, this passage not only sets forth the Deity of the Lord Jesus and his equality with the Father, but it emphasizes the inspiration of the Holy Scriptures. We can be very grateful indeed to the Jews for having preserved for us the Bible. All the Old Testament was preserved by them, handed down through the centuries in manuscript form, translated into the Greek tongue later, and that by Jewish scribes, so that all the Old Testament Scriptures have come to us through the people of Israel. We will never be able to pay our debt to the Jews for that.
The Old Testament we have today is the Old Testament that Jesus had. He had it in both Greek and Hebrew, and He read it in both of these versions, for He quoted from them both in His ministry here on earth, sometimes from the Hebrew and, at other times, from the Greek text. There were flaws in that translation, but whenever He could He used that translation, because it was in the hands of the common people.
Notice what He says, “The scripture cannot be broken.” What rest that gives to heart and mind in these days when there are so many voices regarding the question of the inspiration of our Bible! They tell us that many of the books of the Old Testament have been discredited. The Lord Jesus says the Scripture cannot be broken and when He used that term scripture, He was using it as the Jews of His day used it. They applied it to the books of their Old Testament, which were the Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms. The whole volume was called Scripture. Jesus says, “The scripture cannot be broken.” In other words, He authenticated the whole of the Old Testament.
This comes out very clearly as you go through the four Gospels, and see how Jesus puts His imprimatur on every part of the Law, the Prophets, the Psalms. If confused by evolutionary theories of creation and inclined to believe that men are only specialized brutes who have come up through the ages from a beast ancestry, we find that Jesus says, “From the beginning (of the creation) God made them male and female” (Mark 10:6, parentheses in original). Thus our Lord put His seal upon the doctrine of the special creation of man. He made them at the beginning, male and female. He also put His authorization upon the marriage relationship. “For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and [shall] cleave to his wife; and they twain shall be one flesh” (vv. 7-8). This is the divine institution of marriage. So we have the Lord Jesus Christ Himself authenticating both special creation and the marriage relationship.
Then there are so many other things in the Old Testament to which modern teachers object. Is it true that there was once a great flood and that one family alone was saved out of that deluge? You turn to your New Testament and read, “For as [it was] in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be” (Matt. 24:38-39). I have no question about the universality of the flood in the face of words like these. Jesus knew, because He was God manifest in the flesh.
And so with the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Again the Lord says, “Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; but the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed” (Luke 17:28-30).
Scholars raise questions as to who wrote the first books of our Bible, Genesis to Deuteronomy, and they are willing to admit almost anybody but Moses as their authors, and yet the Lord Jesus Christ says, “Had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me, for he wrote of me” (John 5:46). And He is speaking of the Law, the Law was composed of those five books, and He says that Moses wrote them.
Was there ever such a man as Abraham? Was he but the imaginary character of a Hebrew myth? Or did he actually exist? Was he the father of the faithful, as Moses said? Jesus answers: “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad” (8:56). What did He mean? He was referring to that promise God gave to Abraham, “In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed” (Gen. 22:18; 26:4). “Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness” (Rom. 4:3). In the same way Jesus authenticates the story of Jonah and the repentance of Nineveh.
I confess I cannot understand how any man can profess to be a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ, recognize His true Deity, and yet spurn any portion of His testimony, for we have the blessed Lord Himself declaring that the Scripture cannot be broken.
And then notice verse 36: “Say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest?” The Father sanctified the Son and sent Him into the world. What does that tell us? It tells us that our Lord Jesus Christ did not become the Son when He was born of the Virgin Mary here on earth. It tells us He was the Son of the Father in the ineffable glory before He came down here at all. He was one of the Holy Trinity and the Father sanctified the Son and sent Him into the world.
What does that word sanctify mean? It really means “to set apart.” And so the Father set the Son apart and sent Him into the world that He might become the propitiation for our sin. This is the glorious truth here fully unfolded. “In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him” (1 John 4:9). He did not become the Son after He came to earth, but the Father sent the Son. “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (v. 10). No wonder the apostle adds, “Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another” (v. 11). The supreme example of the love of God is this: “God sent His Son into the world. He turned His back on heaven’s glory to be born a child here on earth, to grow up to manhood, living a holy, spotless life, and at last to go to Calvary’s cross to offer Himself for our redemption.” Is it blasphemy to believe this? On the contrary, it is an insult to God to deny it.
Jesus says, “Say ye of Him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God?” He told them to consider His works. Do not these accredit Him? “If I do not the works of My Father, believe Me not.”
So we throw that challenge out today. If you have any doubt as to whether He was the eternal Son of God, read the record. See what He did when He was here. Can you explain His works in any other way? If you can, then you must reject Him. But if His works accredit Him, then be reasonable and accept Him.
If people would only read the Bible thoughtfully and face its testimony honestly, oh, how many would be delivered from the snare of unbelief]
So Jesus says, “If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not. But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works: that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him” (vv. 37-38). But, alas, though He was so tender and faithful, those who listened to Him were not willing to make the test.
“Therefore they sought again to take him: but he escaped out of their hand” (v. 39). The hour had not come that He was to die, and they could not put Him to death, so He went away beyond Jordan where John had baptized Him. “And there He abode. And many resorted unto him, and said, John did no miracle: but all things that John spake of this man were true” (vv. 40-41).
“And many believed on him there” (v. 42). To believe on Him is to put your trust in Him. I wonder if all who read this have really believed on Him. Have you put your trust in Him? Oh, read the record for yourselves. Face the testimony honestly. If the Spirit of God reveals to you that Jesus is indeed the Son of the living God, then receive Him as your Savior and confess Him openly before men.
O for a thousand tongues to sing
My great Redeemer’s praise,
The glories of my God and King,
The triumphs of His grace!