Before God allowed Satan to bring all kinds of spiritual, emotional, and physical suffering into Job’s life God had said that there was no one as upright and blameless as Job. The floodgate then opened, extreme trials rushed in, Job despaired of life itself, and Job’s friends saw it and told asked him what sin he had committed to bring such misery into his life. As the conversation continues on throughout almost the entirety of Job right in the middle Job says something that surprises his friends. In Job 19 he is very honest about how tired he is of his friends horrid counsel, he reminds them that God has brought these upon him, and then in the midst of his despair he cries out in hope saying, “I know that my redeemer lives, and at the last He will stand upon the earth.” This hopeful boast was terribly surprising to Job’s friends, it not only shocked them, it increased their hostility toward Job.

In our text today there is a similarly monumental statement. The Jews asked Him for a plain answer, “Are you the Messiah or are you not?” Jesus gave them what they wanted saying, “I and the Father are one.” Surprising to them, monumental at this time, and monumental in every time… this statement increased the hostility toward Him, and yet this passage ends with many more coming to believe in Him. Surprising how God works isn’t it?

As our passage begins we learn the context in v22-23. It was feast time once again. Particularly the Feast of Dedication was at hand. This feast is nowhere commanded to Israel in the Old Testament. It’s beginnings come from 164 BC when the pagan emperor Antiochus Epiphanes turned the temple into a center of pagan worship. Being fed up with this it was the Maccabees who led a revolt and won the temple back, restoring the true worship of God. Of this event the historian Josephus said, “From that time to the present we observe this festival, which we rightly call the festival of lights, giving this name to it, I think from the fact that the right to worship appeared to us at a time when we hardly dared hope for it.”[1] This was what they were celebrating in v22-23 and today Jews still celebrate it under the name Hanukkah.

How ironic that these Jews are celebrating a time in days past when God surprised them by breaking into their darkness with light and hope by restoring His temple while they reject and mock Jesus Christ, the very Light of the World who is Himself the New Temple of God that has tabernacled among them. Perhaps John meant to give us more than a seasonal meaning when he said “It was winter” in v22, reminding us of the coldness between Jesus and the Jews.[2]

Anywho, v23 finishes context by letting us know Jesus was walking the colonnade of Solomon, or Solomon’s Porch, when the Jews gathered around Him determined to have one last question answered. The sense of their question in v24, “How long will you keep us in suspense…” shows us that they, though rejecting His message, did understand it in part. They felt threatened. Jesus had said they would die in their sins unless they believe in Him (8:24) and had said He intends to find followers from outside the Jews (10:16). To them what else could His words mean the end of Judaism itself? So as they circle around Him see the Lamb of God surrounded by a pack of angry wolves hungry to devour Him.[3] “How long will you keep us in suspense…(or How long will you plague us)? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.”[4]

From this point on in the text we see Jesus’ answering their question, as they asked, plainly. He speaks of unity between Himself and the Father and the everlasting safety this unity brings their sheep. It is a glorious passage, full of depth and detail concerning both who Christ is and who we are in Him. Because of this, these verses demand our keen attention. So Church, take heed of the following. In v25-30 we see surprising unity. In v31-39 we see surprising blasphemy, and in v40-42 we see surprising belief.

Surprising Unity (v25-30)

As Jesus begins to unfold His plain answer to their question He begins discussing the works He’s already done saying in v25, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in My Father’s name bear witness about Me…” It doesn’t take much convincing to believe chocolate is delightful once you taste it, so too, after seeing the kind of things Jesus did and hearing the kind of words He said it doesn’t take long to realize that Jesus is the Messiah. He isn’t the new kid on the block. He’s been around, He’s taught many times, He’s given many signs, and these things He’s done ought to be sufficient evidence and proof of who He really is. Who else can turn water to wine? Who else can heal the sick, restore the lame, feed 5,000, walk on the water, and heal a man born blind? They say He hasn’t told them who He is yet, but Jesus reminds them that He already has. He’s done these works not only in the Father’s name, these works also bear witness that He is the sent one from the Father. You’d think after hearing all He has said and seeing all He has done, that they would believe!

But as plain as it may be, they still don’t believe. Why? v26 gives us the answer, “…you do not believe because you are not among My sheep.” Jesus isn’t saying they do not believe because they are not among His sheep yet, or that by believing in Him they then could belong among His flock. Jesus words are sharp and clear, they do not believe because they do not belong. Similar to Pharaoh growing harder in heart with each plague that hit Egypt, these Pharisees grow harder in heart with every work done by Christ. With each authoritative teaching, each powerful sign, and each miraculous wonder, their hatred of Him grows. Why? They’re not sheep, they’re wolves.[5]

He continues on in v27-29 with a list of blessings that His true sheep enjoy, “My Sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.” Again, there is a profound intimacy between this Good Shepherd and His sheep. They know Him, they are known by Him, they know His voice, He leads them, they follow Him, they receive eternal life from Him, they are chosen by the Father and given to the Son, and they are forever secure in Him, so secure that no one or nothing is strong enough to snatch them out of His hand. Just as a Father holds onto his child walking by the road to ensure the child’s safety, so too true sheep are forever secure, not because they hold on to the Shepherd, but because the Shepherd forever holds onto them.[6]

Only God can do the things in v27-29, and only God’s children enjoy and benefit from these things. By stating these things plainly Jesus is telling them that He is the Christ. But in case they missed it, He makes a stunning statement in v30, “I and the Father are one.” This statement is surprising. Not to us, we know who this Jesus is, and our convinced that He is God. This statement is terribly surprising to the Pharisees listening. They had long loved and affirmed the words of the Shema found in Deuteronomy 6:4 that says, “Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one.” Ages upon ages the Jewish people held dear the doctrine of God’s oneness. Jesus’ words here echo the Shema and make the great claim that the oneness of God they held dear for so long is in reality a oneness among multiple Persons who are co-equal and co-eternal in power and glory. Though no one has seen God the Father, Jesus states that He has made Him known, thus, whoever sees Him sees the Father.[7] That this great surprising statement of triune unity among the Godhead comes on the heels of the promises made about keeping His sheep safe and secure, Jesus is saying the work of keeping the sheep is a work of both the Father and the Son.

So, the surprising unity among the Trinity shows itself here to be the foundation of our eternal safety and security. We have a reason as vastly deeper than the Grand Canyon to be of good cheer here, because this doesn’t mean the sheep will be saved “…from all earthly disaster, but that they will be saved, no matter what earthly disaster may befall.”[8] Or in other words, we will persevere in faith to the end only because the triune God preserves us.

I am aware than on any given Sunday it is not rare for someone who is not a Christian to be here with us. That’s great, we’re glad you’re here, let me point out two things to you. First, this safety and security in view here is not a promise made to you. As far as the Bible is concerned if you remain in your sin and unbelief you have no reason to expect safety and security in the life to come. In fact you have every reason to be terrified of the life to come. That ought to concern you. But that leads me to the second item, we want this promise to be for you. Do you know that today you can actually become a Christian? That you can repent of your sin and turn toward Christ in faith and be saved forevermore and become a new creation right now? Weigh these things heavily now, one day you’ll wish you had.

Surprising Blasphemy (v31-39)

They had asked for a clear reply from Jesus, and as they pick up stones to end His life in v31, it seems that Jesus’ words were a bit too clear for their liking.[9] But in the midst of their fury do not miss the calm courage of Christ as He stands firm though surrounded by these violent wolves.[10] As they pick up stones the conversation continues in v32-33, “Jesus answered them, ‘I have shown you many good works from the Father, for which of them are you going to stone Me?’ 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.’”

Jesus asked which of His works stirred them to such violence. They answer that none of His works have prompted them to this and that they are stoning Him for making Himself God. Well, we ought to ask, ‘How did He make Himself out to be God?’ Answer, ‘His works!’ So though they say it wasn’t any of His works that moved them to pick up stones, it was really His works coupled with His Words that was just too much for them to bear. Now, Leviticus 24:16 does indeed say the penalty for blasphemy is stoning, but it also says that the execution can only be carried out after a trial had been done and the evidence was plain for all to see. Skipping the process of law and disregarding God’s ways these Pharisee’s intended to take the Law of God into their own hands and be judge, jury, and executioner.[11] Can you see how backward they are in their accusation? The Jews claim He, a mere man, was making Himself to be God by speaking this way, yet in reality He was true God who had become true Man. High as His claims were, they were grounded in the truth. His works are the very works of God, His Words are the very Words of God. He isn’t making Himself to be anything, rather, by His works and Words He’s showing Himself to be what He is![12] One with the Father.

Jesus again answered them in v34-36 saying, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I said, you are gods’? If he called them gods to whom the word of God came—and Scripture cannot be broken—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’?” This reply is a bit technical, some have said Jesus is scared pointing to some kind of Jewish loophole so they wouldn’t stone Him. Wrong. Jesus is saying, ‘Don’t you remember Psalm 82:6 when human rulers are referred to as ‘gods’ and ‘sons of the Most High’? No one picked up stones and tried to kill them? Why then are seeking to kill Me for saying ‘I am the Son of God?’’ By making an argument like this Jesus isn’t saying that He is like these mere humans called gods in Psalm 82:6, no. He is saying that if it was ok for these men to be called gods and sons of the Most High back then, how much more appropriate is it for Him who is one with the Father to be called the Son of God? More so, Jesus isn’t pulling this stuff out of the air, or making it up, He’s speaking about what Scripture says. Even when it is inconvenient to believe, we must submit to it, for the “Scripture cannot be broken.” Even more so, He had surprised them before with a lofty statement of unity and divinity, now He turns the tables again and surprises them with His own accusation of blasphemy. ‘You think it’s blasphemy for Me to say things like this? I am the true sent One from the Father, so for you to deny such reality is an even larger blasphemy.’[13]

Why are they the ones really blaspheming? v37-38, “If I am not doing the works of My Father, then do not believe Me; 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.” Or in other words, ‘If I am not truly doing supernatural works, you shouldn’t believe Me. But I am doing them, and you cannot avoid how supernatural they are. Don’t begin with Me, begin with My works. They will clearly show you that I and the Father are one.’ As with Moses, with Elijah, and even with the Apostolic era…we see here again with Jesus. Jesus performs miracles, signs, and wonders not to wow people as if He were just putting on a show or to prove that the supernatural really exists, no. Miracles were proof, validating evidence that He was who He said He was. But as we read v39 and see yet another attempt to seize Him, we’re reminded that regardless what miraculous things take place, the blind don’t see Christ’s beauty, those dead in sin don’t see Christ’s divinity, and those who are not sheep do not know the voice of the Shepherd.

Surprising Belief (v40-42)

We now turn one more surprise as our passage ends. v40-42, “He went away again across the Jordan to the place where John had been baptizing at first, and there He remained. And many came to Him. And they said, “John did no sign, but everything that John said about this man was true.” And many believed in Him there.” Having left the city He would not see again until Palm Sunday, we would think His influence would begin to decrease. But it doesn’t. In fact, His flock keeps growing out on the other side of the Jordan. Interesting isn’t it? In the place where one would think He would be welcomed men tried to stone Him and in the place where one would think people couldn’t find Him many men believed in Him.[14] But don’t stop there. Ask the question, ‘Why did they come?’ Answer, because John’s powerful testimony still lingered. John didn’t do any miracles among them and yet through his holy life and the power of his gospel preaching God transformed these people.

Conclusion:

We have seen three surprises in our text today: His statement of unity with the Father, His accusation of blasphemy, and continued belief even outside the city. I want to leave you this. Know the truth, live the truth, tell the truth.[15]

Know the Truth – these Pharisees knew Scripture, but they were more committed to their own personal preferences than they were to anything in Scripture. Most of you here today own a Bible, most of you carried one in here, but sadly many Christians don’t read or study their Bibles to actually know what it says. So naturally, they are carried along with the tide of cultural opinion and believe many false things, some of which are eternal in consequence. How will we stand boldly in front the wolves of our day or learn the difference between the voice of our Shepherd and the voice of stranger’s if we don’t know the truth? Indeed we cannot.

Live the Truth – Jesus was able to point to His life for all the evidence of the truth these Jews needed. They could clearly see the Father by looking at Him. Can you do the same? Sure, sure, Christians aren’t perfect and won’t ever be till glory, but as you see between Father and Son here, so too, there is a family resemblance between God and us. What is the resemblance? Holiness.

Tell the Truth – Jesus stood calm and collected before a mob with stones in hand. John the Baptist told his hearers of the Lamb of God soon to come and change everything. We’re called to do the same. Church, see here in v40-42 an unmistakable truth – God often extraordinarily blesses the faithful preaching of His Word in unlikely ways with unlikely power. When you see this kind of true and genuine revival take place out in the booney’s of Jerusalem in v41, or somewhere else in history, isn’t there some part of you that’s is crying out, ‘O’ God do it again!’ I can’t do miracles or work wonders or signs, I cannot preach as powerful as John the Baptist. So you may ask, well what hope is there for us here at SonRise if I can’t do those things? Much! Though I cannot preach like John the Baptist, I can preach the same powerful Christ, and you can too. When His Word is preached in power of the Spirit what always happens? God is glorified and men are saved, transformed, and secured forever. The Scripture cannot be broken.

What a text!! What a God!! What a calling He has given us!!

 

Citations:

[1] Josephus, quoted in Leon Morris, The Gospel According to John – NICNT, page 516, footnote 57.

[2] Morris, page 516-518.

[3] Richard Phillips, John 1-10-Reformed Expository Commentary, page 655.

[4] Morris, page 519.

[5] Pastoral Apprentice Mike Joas spoke of this similarity in our application grid meeting.

[6] R.C. Sproul, John – St. Andrew’s Expositional Commentary, page 196.

[7] Reformation Study Bible, notes on John 10:38, page 1877.

[8] Morris, page 521.

[9] Sproul, page 197.

[10] Morris, page 524.

[11] Morris, page 524.

[12] F.F. Bruce, The Gospel of John, page 234.

[13] Sproul, page 198.

[14] Morris, page 531.

[15] Phillips, page 670-671.

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