31 The Jews picked up stones again to stone him. 32 Jesus answered them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you going to stone me?” 33 The Jews answered him, “It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you but for blasphemy, because you, being a man, make yourself God.” 34 Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I said, you are gods’? 35 If he called them gods to whom the word of God came—and Scripture cannot be broken— 36 do you say of him whom the Father consecrated and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming’, because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’? 37 If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me; 38 but if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.” 39 Again they sought to arrest him, but he escaped from their hands.
40 He went away again across the Jordan to the place where John had been baptizing at first, and there he remained. 41 And many came to him. And they said, “John did no sign, but everything that John said about this man was true.” 42 And many believed in him there.
Jesus Claims to be God
When I was in college, the gospel of John came under vehement attack. The synoptic problem was addressed and that was about all the time that we had for the first three gospels. However, when it came to John my professor took a delight in saying almost nothing positive about it. She really enjoyed refuting all of its truth claims, especially the claim that Jesus was God. According to some scholars, John was composed to help construct a deity of Christ which Jesus never claimed to have. The Trinitarian doctrines of the church, they say, came much later.
I would say that the people in Jesus’ time were baffled by what he was saying and that we see some evidence that Jesus was killed by those who understood quite well what he was saying. We see instances where Jesus is worshiped and we see instances where people accuse him of claiming equality with God. In this passage, Jesus’ claims come to a head. His persistent use of the ‘I Am’ statements lead people to conclude he is claiming to be God himself. People see the signs pointing to something extraordinary, but the learned Pharisees, in general, find it impossible to match their belief in one God with the evidence that Jesus himself is God.
Jesus is about to reveal his final sign pointing to his identity in chapter 11. He is setting the stage for believing in him. Who exactly is it that people are expected to believe in? The complete identity of Jesus is shrouded in mystery. However, people are called to believe in him as a disciple. They do not have to believe all truths about him. They have to follow the man who heals sickness, speaks authoritatively and will soon raise the dead.
While so many people try and discredit the gospel testimonies about Jesus because they do not want to follow anyone, let alone an ancient Jew, what will your response be?
Jesus, in light of the infinite things that are true about you, I know precious little of who you are. I commit to knowing you better. I will believe in you. My faith will not be based solely in what I believe about you. I will trust you to lead me through the darkness to a future of love and light. Lead on Jesus.
- What has Jesus been talking about in chapter 10?
- Why does this lead to an accusation of blasphemy?
- In your opinion, do the onlookers believe in Jesus as God?
- How would you evaluate your knowledge of Jesus?
- Do you believe in Jesus as a disciple who is willing to follow him through the darkness?