A Question of gods..
From the series Letters to the Prison
We’d like to start by encouraging you to pray for those around you. Ask God to draw them to himself… and maybe we’ll be able to worship God together with them, also! Pray too that God will open the doors to other prisons soon! We miss the rest of you! Last week, as Jesus was appealing to those who were seeking to stone him to death (to either believe in him or his acts), he said something unusual:
- 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’? -John 10:34-36
What exactly is going on here? Is Jesus suggesting that we are all like God? Most certainly not! Is Jesus suggesting that he isn’t claiming to be God? Also, certainly not the case!
So what is Jesus saying here?
The short (and perhaps over-simplified) version of the answer is this: Even in the worldview that denies Jesus’ deity, Jesus is not violating Scripture here, because the reference he uses (Psalm 82:6) is actually a moment when God himself calls the unjust rulers of Israel “gods.” So, God uses the term “gods” to refer to other men who clearly aren’t God. This means that Jesus’ reference to himself as the Son of God would not be a violation of the Scriptures even if he wasn’t actually God… so, whether the Jews believe Jesus is actually God or not, they still have no right to stone him for blasphemy. None of this changes the fact that Jesus is clearly claiming to be God… and he is backing that claim up in undeniable ways… and the Jews know it.
Aside from all that, Jesus also says some other profound things about himself –and his word.
First, that “Scripture cannot be broken.” Here, Jesus himself defers to what is contained in the Bible. It is complete, sufficient, and will prevail over all attempts to nullify, deny, or alter it. Scripture is the Word of God –His Word-- and it has absolute authority… and it has come to us. We do well to follow Jesus’ example and submit ourselves to the authority of Scripture. It is fascinating to consider that the Old Testament as we have it is the same thing Jesus had and was referring to in his earthly ministry. The only two significant differences would be the language the books were written in and the order in which they appear in our Bible. So, any time Jesus quotes from or refers to the Old Testament (which is very often!), we need to be paying close attention. The way Jesus interprets Scripture should absolutely define how we interpret it.
Second, Jesus claims to have been “consecrated and sent into the world” by God. A more common translation would render “consecrated” as “sanctified” or “set apart.” In either case, Jesus is clearly claiming to have eternally pre-existed in the presence of God prior to his birth… and that he was sent into the world by God... for a unique purpose.
And that purpose was to live a sinless life and die a criminal’s death in order to perfectly atone for the sins of everyone who would ever turn from their sins and believe in Jesus… and place their faith, hope, and trust in him… and follow him. Is that you? We hope so! We love you!