The Gospel of John: The Testimony of Unbelievers.

“The Jews picked up stones again to stone him. 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.” (John 10:31-33).

I cannot recall how many times I have been asked to defend and locate in Scripture Jesus’ claims to be God. Thus far, we have taken note of several times John’s Gospel records Jesus’ claim for deity. These include the familiar “I Am” statements which include Jesus’ words found in John 10 that He was not only the “Gate” for the sheep but also the “Good Shepherd” of the sheep.

I would submit that not only did Jesus claim to be God but His enemies understood and recognized that He claimed to be God. This would explain their response on at least three occasions in John’s Gospel where the religious leaders plot and plan to execute Jesus for such a claim (John 5:18; 8:59; 10:31).

Dr. R. C. Sproul explains that, “Nothing could better identify someone as a false prophet than for him to claim that he was God. So, it is evident that the Jews believed Jesus was claiming to be deity when He said, “I and the Father are one,” because they took up stones and charged Him with blasphemy (John 10:30–36). Modern cults try to argue that Jesus never claimed to be God, but the response of the Jewish authorities shows that they recognized exactly what He was teaching about Himself.

Dr. John MacArthur writes, “For the third time John records that the Jews attempted to stone Jesus (see 5:18; 8:59). Jesus’ assertion (10:30) that he was One with the Father affirmed his claim to deity and caused the Jews to seek his execution (v. 33). Although the OT permitted stoning in certain instances (e.g. Lev. 24:16), the Romans reserved the right of capital punishment for themselves (John 18:31). Nevertheless, out-of-control Jews attempted a mob action in lieu of legal proceedings (see Acts 7:54–60).”

There was no doubt in the minds of the Jewish religious leaders that Jesus was claiming to be God. Therefore, if unbelievers do not believe Jesus’ disciples when they claim that He is God (Romans 9:1-5; I Timothy 1:17), perhaps we should direct them to what Jesus’ enemies understood about who He claimed to be.

Dr. Sproul concludes by saying, “If Jesus were an ordinary mortal, His claims of deity would be blasphemous. But His works prove that He was sent by the Father and attest to the veracity of His words that He is the incarnate Son of God (vv. 37–39). Moreover, Jesus’ claim of unity with the Father was unique. While believers can say that they are in God and God is in them (3:21; Rom. 8:9), this mutual indwelling is not the same as that of the Son and the Father. Augustine of Hippo comments: “The Son says not, ‘the Father is in me, and I in Him,’ as men can say it. For if we think well, we are in God; and if we live well, God is in us: believers, by participating in His grace, and being illuminated by Himself, are in Him, and He in us. But not so is it with the only-begotten Son: He is in the Father, and the Father in Him; as one who is equal is in him whose equal he is. . . . Recognize the prerogative of the Lord, and the privilege of the servant. The prerogative of the Lord is equality with the Father: the privilege of the servant is fellowship with the Savior.”

While acknowledging that Jesus claimed to be God does not in any way mean that people will accept such a claim to be true. However, I think we can dispense with the erroneous suggestion that Jesus never made such a claim to be God. Indeed He did and His enemy’s reaction proves it.

Soli deo Gloria!

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