A Solid Foundation for Our Faith: John 10:22-42

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As we continue working our way through John’s gospel, we arrive at a place where Jesus is clearly asked whether He is the Messiah or not. While this seems like a great place for Jesus to openly declare that He was in fact the Messiah these Jews had been waiting for, I am fascinated that Jesus takes a different angle when answering this question. In the angle Jesus takes, He subtly challenges the very idea these Jews had about who the Messiah would actually be.

Let’s read about what happened, and how Jesus’ reframe of His ministry should have prompted these Jews to understand the Messiah differently, instead of simply prompting them to reject Him.

Our passage is found in John’s gospel, chapter 10, and we will read it using the Good News Translation. Starting in verse 22, John tells us that:

22 It was winter, and the Festival of the Dedication of the Temple was being celebrated in Jerusalem. 23 Jesus was walking in Solomon’s Porch in the Temple, 24 when the people gathered around him and asked, “How long are you going to keep us in suspense? Tell us the plain truth: are you the Messiah?”

25 Jesus answered, “I have already told you, but you would not believe me. The deeds I do by my Father’s authority speak on my behalf; 26 but you will not believe, for you are not my sheep. 27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never die. No one can snatch them away from me.29 What my Father has given me is greater than everything, and no one can snatch them away from the Father’s care. 30 The Father and I are one.”

31 Then the people again picked up stones to throw at him. 32 Jesus said to them, “I have done many good deeds in your presence which the Father gave me to do; for which one of these do you want to stone me?”

33 They answered, “We do not want to stone you because of any good deeds, but because of your blasphemy! You are only a man, but you are trying to make yourself God!”

34 Jesus answered, “It is written in your own Law that God said, ‘You are gods.’ 35 We know that what the scripture says is true forever; and God called those people gods, the people to whom his message was given. 36 As for me, the Father chose me and sent me into the world. How, then, can you say that I blaspheme because I said that I am the Son of God? 37 Do not believe me, then, if I am not doing the things my Father wants me to do. 38 But if I do them, even though you do not believe me, you should at least believe my deeds, in order that you may know once and for all that the Father is in me and that I am in the Father.”

39 Once more they tried to seize Jesus, but he slipped out of their hands.

40 Jesus then went back again across the Jordan River to the place where John had been baptizing, and he stayed there. 41 Many people came to him. “John performed no miracles,” they said, “but everything he said about this man was true.” 42 And many people there believed in him.

In this passage, I am amazed at how Jesus frames the crowd’s hostility towards Him. While the crowd rightfully determines that Jesus’ words would fall within one definition of blasphemy, either they did not understand, or they were unwilling to accept, the difficult truth that the Messiah that the Old Testament prophesied about would actually be God’s Son.

Much later in Jesus’ ministry, during the week leading up to Jesus’ betrayal, arrest, trial, and crucifixion, Jesus uses an Old Testament prophecy about the Messiah as evidence that the Messiah existed before David while also being David’s descendant. For those who are interested in what happened, Matthew, Mark, and Luke all include this event, and you can find it at the end of Matthew, chapter 22, near the end of Mark, chapter 12, and at the end of Luke, chapter 20.

However, tucked within Jesus’ counter-challenge to these Jews is another amazing truth. While Jesus doesn’t ask those in this crowd to accept what they feel are blasphemous claims about being one with God, Jesus does challenge them regarding what they see Him doing. Everything Jesus did was to bring glory to God and to uplift God’s name. Even the crowd acknowledged when they picked up stones to stone Jesus that it wasn’t for anything He had done, but for one single claim He had made.

While Jesus clarifies how His claim about being God’s Son is completely compatible with the Old Testament scriptures, He shifts the focus onto His actions. Actions always speak louder than words, and in Jesus’ case, the only way Jesus could have done 90% of what He did was if God was with Him supporting Him through the Holy Spirit. While Jesus could have leaned on His divinity throughout His entire life, Jesus instead submitted Himself to God the Father’s will, and leaned on the Holy Spirit for power.

This means that if God the Father did not like the message Jesus was sharing, there would be no way Jesus could have helped people during the time He was teaching, and preaching. We don’t have to look very far into Jesus’ miracles to come to one that would be impossible for Jesus to do if God was not with Him.

Because Jesus worked so many miracles, and because Jesus always attributed these miracles as the Father’s will, and as reasons to give God the glory, we can use Jesus’ actions as a foundation for our faith. Regardless of the message Jesus shared, what Jesus did while He was alive on earth could only have happened if God was with Him. If Jesus had stepped too far, or over the line of what God felt was acceptable or not, we could expect that Jesus’ ability to perform miracles would stop.

However, when we fast forward to the end of Jesus’ ministry, Jesus was resurrected from the dead exactly as He predicted, Jesus returned to heaven, and the Holy Spirit was given to His followers exactly as Jesus promised. These details surrounding the end of Jesus’ ministry on earth give the greatest evidence to the powerful truth that Jesus was who He claimed to be. Jesus was God’s Son and the Messiah God had promised since the fall of man in the Garden of Eden.

Because Jesus’ word has never failed, we can trust His promises, and even if we are uncertain of some of the more extreme claims Jesus made, we can look to Jesus’ actions as a foundation for our faith in Him.

As we come to the end of another podcast episode, here are the challenges I will leave you with:

As I always challenge you to do, intentionally seek God first in your life and choose to place your faith, your hope, your trust, and your belief in Jesus and what He accomplished while He was alive on earth. Trust that Jesus is in heaven working for our benefit as history speeds towards the end of sin and the salvation of God’s people!

Also, continue to pray and study the Bible for yourself to learn and grow closer to God each and every day. God wants a personal relationship with you, and a personal relationship is best built on the foundation of personal prayer and personal Bible study. While other people can have good things to say, or interesting ideas to think about, always take what you hear, read, or see and filter it through the truth in God’s Word.

And as I end every set of challenges by saying in one way or another, never stop short of, back away from, chicken out of, or give up on where God wants to lead you to in your life with Him!

Year in John – Episode 24: While Jesus was teaching in the temple during one festival, we come to a time when the Jews present directly ask Jesus if He was the Messiah shortly before they concluded they needed to stone Him to death. Discover what happened, and why this event is important for all of Jesus’ followers living today!

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