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“Thou, being a man, makest thyself God.”
“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.” (John 10:31-42)
In the 10th chapter of John’s Gospel our Lord Jesus plainly declared himself to be the Son of God, one with and equal with the Father in all things. The Pharisees who heard his words clearly understood what he said. They took up stones to stone him, not because they did not understand his doctrine, but because they clearly understood it and hated it. They hated his doctrine and hated him for preaching it, because, though they were very religious and very strict in their practice of religion, they hated God.
Before we look at the things revealed in that last section of John 10, let me remind you of the things our Lord Jesus has just declared to this multitude of religious rebels in the temple. These Pharisees and Jews were gathered in Jerusalem at the temple to celebrate one of their many man made religious festivals and ceremonies — The Feast of the Dedication. In their pomp and pretense, they had gathered to declare and show their dedication to the Lord; but before their festivities were over, they tried to kill the God to whom they claimed to be utterly dedicated!
Why were they so enraged against the Lord Jesus? What made them mad enough to pick up stones and try to murder him in the very temple of God? He declared himself to be the only Door of salvation, saying, “I am the Door” (v. 9). The Lord Jesus declared himself to be the Good Shepherd God promised to raise up over his elect, by whom he promised to gather his sheep unto himself (vv. 11-15). Then, the Savior declared to those proud, racially bigoted Jews that the sheep he came to save were not just Jews, but Gentiles, too (vv. 16-18). On top of all that, the Lord Jesus, the Man Christ Jesus, plainly asserted that he is God, one with the Father (v. 30).
“Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him!” — Can you picture the scene? They were angry when the Lord’s discourse began. The more he talked, the more angry they got. Soon, their anger turned to rage, and their rage broke forth in attempted murder. Then, “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” (vv. 32-33).
We read the chapter together earlier. So let me just call your attention to the things set before us by the Spirit of God in verses 31-42.
Man’s Hatred of God
The first thing here displayed in the most glaring manner is the hatred of God that possesses the heart of every human being by nature. The enraged Jews declare by example that which we read in Romans 8:7. — “The carnal mind is enmity against God!” Oh the extreme wickedness of humanity! Man hates his Maker. The creature hates his Creator. As one of the old writers put it, — “Unconverted men would kill God himself if they could only get at Him.”
The unbelieving Jews at Jerusalem were not moved by our Lord’s miracles or by his message. They were determined not to have him as their King, as the Christ, the Messiah, the Shepherd of Israel. So “they took up stones again to stone him,” just as they had done back in John 8:59.
Our Lord had done them no injury. He was no robber, murderer, or rebel against the law of the land. He was one whose whole life was spent doing good. He “went about doing good” (Acts 10:38) for thirty-three years. There was no fault or inconsistency in his character. No crime could be laid to his charge. He was holy, harmless, and undefiled. Such a man, perfect and spotless, had never walked upon the face of this earth. Yet the Jews hated him and thirsted for his blood. How true are the words of Scripture: — “They hated me without a cause” (John 15:25; Psalm 35:19).
We should never be surprised when we meet with the same hatred as our blessed Lord met with at the hands of zealous religious people. Many, in their proud self-righteousness, like to convince themselves that men hate them because they are so much more righteous than others, that their righteousness exposes the wickedness in others. That is not the doctrine of this passage, or the doctrine of this Book in any other passage.
Do not misunderstand me. I am fully aware that if you are known for behaving uprightly, behaving in a manner that others know is right, and they refuse to do what their own consciences tell them they ought to do, you will invoke their jealousy and rage. But you do not have to be a believer to do what is right in that sense, and enrage people by doing it. And that is not the case here.
These people did not hate our Lord Jesus because of his goodness as a man. They had no quarrel with him for doing good things: feeding the multitudes, healing the sick, raising the dead, calming the storm. They were enraged because he performed his miracles on the Sabbath, but not because he performed them. And no one will ever hate you for doing good things. I never knew anyone to be hated for being honest, telling the truth, being fair in trade, wearing modest clothes, being sober, reading the Word of God, praying, giving, charity, attending church, etc.
That which enrages the world against God’s elect today is the very same thing that enraged these Jews against our Lord, the very same thing that enraged Cain against Abel; it is the gospel we believe and preach, the testimony of Jesus. Abel’s righteous works for which Cain hated him were his works of faith (1 John 3:10-13; Genesis 4:3-8; Hebrews 11:4). Cain was enraged because God accepted Abel by grace, without works, by the merit of a slain lamb, but would not accept him and his works of righteousness. Abel’s Righteousness (Christ) exposed Cain’s unrighteousness, the filthy rags of his self-righteous, works religion; and Cain hated Abel because of it (Hebrews 11:4).
The world, especially the religious world, hates God, hates God’s saints, and hates the gospel of God. The Jews took up stones to stone the Lord Jesus in the very house of God, because his doctrine, the gospel of God, left them without hope in themselves, exposing their religion as a refuge of lies; and any man will kill you to protect his gods, unless God destroys them in his heart. That which enraged the Jews and enrages lost religious men and women everywhere is the gospel of God’s free and sovereign grace in Christ, the gospel of salvation in and by Christ alone. Our Savior tells us plainly we should always expect the hatred of the world, especially the religious world, if we worship him. — “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you” (John 15:18).
The second thing that we should learn from this passage is the high honor the Lord Jesus puts on Holy Scripture.
“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?” (vv. 34-36)
The Lord Jesus quoted Psalm 82:6 in reply to these caviling imps. Obviously, he was not trying to answer these Pharisees or calm their rage. His words only enraged them more (v. 39). Our Lord’s reference here to the Book of Psalms was for the benefit of his disciples who were standing by and for the benefit of his people in all ages.
If the Psalmist called men “gods” and “sons of the highest,” because they were ordained of God to administer justice in his name (as Moses was to Pharaoh, as David was to Israel and her enemies, and as Joseph was in Egypt), surely it cannot be blasphemy for the Lord Jesus Christ to declare himself the Son of God. He is eternally one with and self-existent with the Father, sanctified by his Father to be our Prophet, Priest, and King, He who was in the fullness of time sent into the world to be the author of eternal redemption to the sons of men is himself God (1 John 5:7). Jesus is “God blessed forever” (Romans 9:5).
Our Lord’s purpose here is to show us, as he declares in verse 35, that “the Scripture cannot be broken.” Whatever the Scriptures declare on any subject, whether we understand it or not, is true, and is to be received as fact because God declared it. There can be no question about it. The cause is settled and decided. Every jot and tittle of Holy Scripture is true, and must be received as authoritative and conclusive.
This is a matter of vast importance. Grasp it firmly, and never let it go. Every word of the Bible is inspired of God. Inspiration extends not only to the thoughts and ideas of Scripture, but to the very words of Holy Scripture (2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:16-21).
The Master’s Miracles
Third, we must not fail to see in this portion of Holy Scripture what great importance the Lord Jesus Christ attached to the miracles he performed. He appeals to his miracles as irrefutable evidence of his own divine mission as the Son of God and of his manifest deity. He told the Jews look at them, and deny them if they could.
“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.” (vv. 36-38)
We read of our Savior doing things entirely miraculous more than forty times in the Gospel narratives: healing the sick in a moment, raising the dead with a word, casting out devils, calming winds and waves in an instant, walking on the water as on solid ground, and raising the dead. Some were performed privately among friends; but most were wrought in public, under the eyes of unfriendly witnesses.
We are so familiar with these things that we are apt to forget the lessons they are intended to teach. — They teach that he who worked these miracles must be nothing less than very God. They stamp his doctrines and precepts with the mark of divine authority. He alone who created all things in the beginning could suspend the laws of creation at his will. To reject One who confirmed his mission by such mighty works is the height of madness and folly.
The Lord’s miracles all say with one voice, “Jesus of Nazareth is God in human flesh, the Son of God, the Christ; and all who believe on him have everlasting life through his name.” Yet, we see but little into the true worth and importance of the miracles of the Lord Jesus, if we see no more than the proof of his divinity in them. The Lord’s miracles do loudly assert the divinity of his Person to the carnal sense of man, and did so even to those who hated and blasphemed him. But the grandeur of these works consisted in this: — They were outward testimonies of the far more noble operations of his grace within the soul, which were not to endure for a time only, like their outward signs, but through all eternity.
He gave sight to the blind, that he might testify unto men his sovereign power in giving light and understanding to the mind. — He opened the deaf ear, that men might know by whom alone they can hear aright the good news of salvation and live forever. — The lame he caused, in a moment, to walk, that his people might learn that we can only move, as well as live, by him, and that without him we can do nothing. — He cured the foul leprosy of the body, in order to show that only by him can men be healed of the far more deplorable leprosy of sin, which covers and defiles the soul. — All sicknesses vanished at his command, that we might have hope in him as the Restorer of our souls. The poor (the meek) among men are made rich for eternity by him. — He cast out unclean spirits and suffered them to possess the swine, who were thereby destroyed, that he might teach his redeemed that he alone delivered and can deliver his elect from the powers of darkness, which, being let loose upon the world, drive them violently and swiftly down the steep course of time into a gulf of inextricable woe in hell. — The hungry multitudes were fed by his miraculous power to explain that he is not only the Giver of spiritual life, but also the constant Sustainer and Nourisher of it from day to day. And he did this by small, insignificant means, that the excellency of the power might be known to be his and not in the creatures, however sanctified, blessed and used. — The winds and waves were instantly obedient to his word, that his beloved might rejoice in him as the Stiller of all spiritual waves, the tumultuous madness of this world, the raging of Satan, and the confusion of all things. These can roar and foam no longer than it pleases him; and when they foam and roar at all, it shall turn out in the end for the good of his people. — The dead were raised to proclaim his power as our risen Lord, and to declare that the issues also of spiritual life and of endless death are altogether in his hands. “He quickeneth whom he will!”
Every miracle our Master performed was an act of mercy, by which he revealed, as in parable pictures, countless lessons of mercy, grace, and love. All his works proclaimed him to be both the Creator of all and the Redeemer and Restorer of untold millions that were lost.
Learn from these things, O child of God, what your Lord God has done for your soul. He quickened you when you were dead in trespasses and sins. He gives light and peace to your soul. He feeds you with the Bread of Life. He cures all your spiritual diseases. He quells all your manifold enemies and temptations. He strengthens you with his grace day by day. He does all that is done in you by his grace; and he will never cease working in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.
“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.” (vv. 41-42)
Blessed Spirit of God, graciously cause chosen, redeemed sinners to resort to the Lord Jesus and believe on him unto life everlasting.
 John Gill tells us, “This was the feast of dedication, appointed by Judas Maccabaeus and his brethren, on account of purging the temple, and renewing the altar, after the profanation of them by Antiochus; which feast lasted eight days, and began on the twenty fifth of the month Cisleu, which answers to part of our December.”