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I and the Father Are One, Part 3

John 10:22-42 August 24, 2014 43-56

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Open your Bible, if you will, to the tenth chapter of John’s gospel.  You know, when we teach people how to preach, we basically...and we’ve been doing it all week.  Steve Lawson is here as professor of preaching, and we’ve had, I don’t know, up to 100 young men now arriving at the seminary.  We’re trying to launch them into expository preaching, and it’s been going on pretty intensely, as well as some of our second year students, all week long.  Just a wonderful, wonderful opportunity for us.  But when we teach them how to preach, ideally, you’d take a portion of Scripture, and you develop a message out of that portion of Scripture, and you put a beginning, and an ending, and a middle, and it’s all self-contained.

I admit that I’m prone to violate those principles.  I start out with a message that has a beginning and an end, and it ends up as a three-part series more often than not because as I get into the text, I can’t allow myself to leave something out that is so very precious. 

And, as a result of that, we’re looking at John 10 verses 22 to 42, and this is part 3.  We will wrap it up this morning.  John 10, verses 22 to 42.  And while it is a lengthy passage, it can be absorbed, I think, in just these three messages.  Not exhaustively by any means, but you can get the flow of what’s going on.  Let me read it to you, starting in verse 22:

“At that time, the Feast of the Dedication took place at Jerusalem; it was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple in the portico of Solomon.  The Jews then were gathered around Him, and were saying to Him, ‘How long will You keep us in suspense?  If You are the Christ – ’” or the Messiah, “‘ – tell us plainly.’ Jesus answered them, ‘I told you, and you do not believe; the works that I do in My Father’s name, these testify of Me.  But you do not believe because you are not of My sheep.  My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, 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.  I and the Father are one.’

“The Jews picked up stones again to stone Him.  Jesus answered them, ‘I showed you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you stoning Me?’ The Jews answered Him, ‘For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy; and because You, being a man, make Yourself out to be God.’ Jesus answered them, ‘Has it not been written in your Law, “I said, you are gods?”  If he called them gods, to whom the Word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken), do you say of Him, whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, “You are blaspheming,” because I said, “I am the Son of God?”  If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; but if I do them, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, so that you may know and understand that the Father is in Me, and I in the Father.’ Therefore they were seeking again to seize Him, and He eluded their grasp.

“And He went away again beyond the Jordan to the place where John was first baptizing, and He was staying there.  Many came to Him and were saying, ‘While John performed no sign, yet everything John said about this man was true.’ Many believed in Him there.”

Now, as I’ve been telling you the last couple of weeks, this is the final public declaration by the Lord Jesus of His deity.  This is also the final invitation in the temple, in the face of the Jewish leaders before He leaves for three months of isolation, across the Jordan, with His disciples and those who came to Him, as noted at the end of the chapter.  As far as John’s gospel is concerned, here is John’s final record of Christ declaring Himself to be God, and calling on people to believe.  And He’s doing it at the Feast of Dedication, which was their celebration of the great Maccabean revolt that threw out Antiochus, and the Syrian invaders in the period between the testaments, the Jews today celebrate it under the name, Hanukkah. 

It was in that event in the winter that Jesus declared this final declaration of His deity in the temple, to the Jewish leaders, and the people gathered there for celebration of this great feast.  And as I said, it becomes, for John, the final invitation.  As at the end, Jesus says, “Believe in Me.  Believe in Me.”  Since the beginning of the gospel of John, the same emphasis has been made.  Jesus is God.  That’s how it started.  “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”  That is John’s point in this gospel, as he says at the end: “These are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that believing, you may have life in His name.”  Eternal life.  Believing that Jesus is God is necessary for eternal life.  If you do not believe that, you will enter into eternal death, and the punishment of everlasting torment in hell.  That is the message of the gospel.  That’s the message of the New Testament.

Now, all through John’s gospel, John has identified episodes in the life and ministry of Jesus where He makes a declaration that He is God.  It’s all through this gospel.  He declares Himself to be the I Am numerous times, taking to Himself the name of God.  He makes direct claims to deity.  And every time He makes these claims, He is confronted by anger and hostility and rejection.  But He continues to make the claims, because believing that is essential for eternal life.  The message that Jesus is God is the message of Christianity; it is the message of the New Testament.  And He is equal to God in nature. 

John says in the first chapter: we beheld His glory, and it was the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.  He was the very essence of God, the writers of the epistles picked this up.  The writer of Hebrews says He’s the exact representation of God, the express image of God.  The apostle Paul says all the fullness of deity dwells in Him.  John says if you deny His deity and His humanity, you’re cursed.  This is Christianity.  He is introduced by Matthew, as Emmanuel, God with us.  He’s introduced by Mark as God the Son.  He’s introduced by Luke as the Holy One who is born as a child.  This is the heart of the Christian gospel.  He is not a noble teacher only.  He is not a religious leader only.  He is not a highly moral man.  He’s not someone with unusual wisdom alone, although all of those things are true.  He is God, and anything less than that is blasphemy against Him, against Him. 

Now, it needs to be stated that the Jews had made a different conclusion.  It isn’t that they, by this time, with only three months to go before His death and resurrection, it isn’t by this time that they were still in process.  No, they had made their decision long before this.  Months before this.  And it’s recorded when Jesus was still in Galilee.  And you remember in chapter 12, they rendered their final verdict.  They said He does what He does by the power of Beelzebul.  They couldn’t explain His works, His miracles as natural or human.  So, they knew there was a supernatural power behind Him.  They then declared that it was Satan, that His power came from hell, that He was demonic.  At the highest level, that He was literally indwelled by Satan himself.  That was their fixed conclusion.  And because it was a fixed conclusion, Jesus said, “You will not be forgiven.”  There’s no way out of that.  If that’s your final verdict, there’s no possibility of salvation. 

And in a very interesting transition, the end of chapter 12, and Matthew records that, He declared them beyond salvation because they’d made a final conclusion that He was satanic.  And starting immediately in chapter 13, He began to speak in parables. 

Now, I just want to make a point for you.  There is an assumption today that Jesus spoke in parables to make things clear to unbelievers.  In fact, you hear people say, “We need to talk in parables.  We need to be storytellers like Jesus.  We need to get away from doctrine and propositional truth, and we need to be storytellers.”  This is just rampant, even among evangelicals.  And I want to make something very clear: Jesus did not speak in parables in order to make things clear to unbelievers.  He spoke in parables as a judgment so they would not understand.  This was a judgment.  It was a judgment tempered with mercy.  He said, hearing they will not hear, as prophesied by Isaiah 6, seeing they will not see, and they will not understand.  That’s why I’m talking in parables.  But He said to His disciples, “To you, it has been given to know the mysteries of the kingdom.”  And how do they know them?  He explained the parables to the disciples.  Mark actually says, from that point onward, He spoke only in parables.  That was a judgment.  That was a judgment.  So don’t let anybody tell you that Jesus told stories as a way to make things clearer to nonbelievers.  He told stories as a judgment in order that He might communicate truth clearly to His own people, and not to them.  The mercy in it was: He didn’t give them more revelation, making them more guilty for their rejection, and making their eternal punishment even worse. 

So we are at that point, and we’ve been at that point for a long time with the Jews.  The Jewish leaders, Sadducees, Pharisees, scribes.  We’ve been there for a long time, for many months.  But there’s even grace in this final session before Jesus disappears for three months, in that one last time in His public ministry, before His passion week, He calls on them to believe. 

So we’ve been looking at this encounter.  There’s a lot here.  The first thing we saw here, there are five scenes that unfold, was the confrontation in verses 22 to 24 where the people gather around the Jews.  That phrase by John refers most often to the leaders.  And then, the people are with them as well.  They’re followers, and of course, there were tens of thousands of them gathered at the feast in the temple at that time.  And they asked the question: “How long will You keep us in suspense?  If You’re the Messiah, tell us plainly.”  Well, He’s told them again, and again, and again, and again, and He’s told them so clearly that He’s not only the Messiah; He’s also told them that He is God, and because up to this point they’ve tried to stone Him three times since chapter 5.  So, He’s told them.

This is a hypocritical thing.  The only reason they ask the question is to expose Him to saying something blasphemous so that they can stone Him on the spot.  If You’re the Messiah, tell us plainly.  Jesus answers in verse 25, and we go to the claim.  He reiterates the claim.  I told you, you do not believe, you do not believe.  And even though the works that I do in My Father’s name, these testify of Me.  But you do not believe.  We spent a lot of time talking about that, about the human responsibility in salvation to believe. 

There’s also a divine side.  Verse 26.  “You are not of My Sheep.”  Verse 27.  “My sheep hear My voice, I know them, they follow Me; I give eternal life to them, they will never perish, no one will snatch them out of My hand.”  And He gives the divine side.  You don’t believe, and you’re responsible for that unbelief.  But then on the other hand, mysteriously, you are not My sheep.  If you were My sheep, chosen by the Father, you would hear My voice.  You would follow Me.  I would receive you.  I would protect you.  You would never perish.  No one would ever snatch you out of My hand, and no one would ever snatch you out of the Father’s hand.  Verse 29.  And then He sums it up by saying, “I and the Father are one.”  In other words, we are one in this divine operation of redemption.  I am involved in redemption in the salvation of God’s chosen sheep at the same level as God Himself.  He is claiming to be the divine Savior, the divine Redeemer, God of very God.  I and the Father are one. 

And of course, their response, as we saw last time: they picked up stones again to stone Him.  Temple was always under construction.  Plenty of stones.  They grabbed their stones for the fourth time that John records in the last few chapters, ready to stone Him for claiming to be one with God in essence and the work of salvation.  I call people to salvation.  I draw people to myself.  I give eternal life to them. 

You remember back in chapter 5?  He says, “As the Father has life in Himself, so the Son has life in Himself.”  That’s God.  Whoever does not receive life is God.  Whoever is the source of life that everything that lives receives from is God.  When Jesus says, “I give eternal life,” He is saying, “I am the source of life, therefore the eternal God.” 

They didn’t mistake His claims.  They knew He was claiming deity.  They knew He was claiming to be equal with God.  And so immediately, we go from His claim at the end of verse 31, “They pick up stones.”  Then in verse 32 comes their charge against Him.  Verse 32 and 33.  This is the blasphemy section.  Jesus answered them, verse 32, stopping them in their tracks with the stones in their hands.  They picked them up.  They’re holding them.  They’re ready to knock them over and crush out His life in a furious hail of rocks.  “I showed you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you stoning me?”  The majestic calm here is really amazing.  Unflinching, unruffled.  He stops them dead in their violent tracks.  Not surprising because He evacuated the temple at the beginning of His ministry; He’ll do it at the end, and it was full of tens of thousands of people who fled as fast as they could, simply at the threat that He posed. 

When they came to arrest Him, the temple police came back without Him, and they said, “Well, why don’t you have Him?”  And they said, “Never a man spoke like this man.”  Just His words stopped the action.  And as violent as they were, as out of control as their anger was, He stopped them with His words.  Their arms are lowered, apparently, in verse 33, because they speak, and they say, “For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy; and because You, being a man, make Yourself out to be God.”  Just complete calm subsided the violence, subdued the violence.  His statement is sensible, reasonable, rational.  “I showed you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you stoning Me?”  “From the Father” is the key phrase.  Nicodemus had said in chapter 3, “No one can do the things You do unless God is with Him.” 

I mean, Nicodemus knew this couldn’t be satanic.  It had to be divine.  He knew it was supernatural.  It had to come from God.  That was the obvious conclusion because of the moral perfection of Christ, the sinlessness of Christ, the magnificence and beauty of the works that He did.  He didn’t do bad works, evil works, the kinds of things that come from hell.  He said, “I showed you many good works.”  Kalos.  Excellent, noble, beautiful.  Not just morally good, but expansively and extensively beautiful works.  His miracles were wonders of joy, giving sight to blind people, and hearing to deaf people, and a voice to those who were mute.  New limbs to the paralyzed, and new organs to the diseased, and new life to the dead.  They were just unparalleled miracles of wonder and beauty. 

So for which of the good work from the Father do you stone Me?  This just stops them.  They have an answer.  They said, “For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy; and because You, being a man, make Yourself out to be God.”  We’re stoning You for blasphemy.  And that, based on the Mosaic law, that a blasphemer was to be stoned.  They thought they were carrying out their righteous duty.  You, being a man.  Let me just make the point.  There are people who have denied the humanity of Christ, who have said that He was some kind of a phantom.  In their minds, clearly, He was a man.  This was not debatable.  This was not open to question.  Everyone knew He was a man.  First John says if you deny that the Son of God, the Messiah, has come in the flesh, you’re judged by God.  He is a man.  He was born the way men are born.  He lived as a child and a young man, and fully human in every sense. 

So, you are a blasphemer because You, being a man, which is not in question, make Yourself out to be God, which in their minds is the ultimate and extreme blasphemy.  So, they feel their religious duty to crush out His life at that very moment.  But the stones may be still in their hands.  But, for whatever reason, no stone is thrown.  And it has to be the very divine restraint imposed on them by the Son of God Himself.

And He causes them to have to think.  And He does a really interesting thing with their own law.  Look at verse 34.  Let’s be rational.  Stop the violence.  Let’s be rational.  Jesus answered them, “Has it not been written in your Law, ‘I said, you are gods?’ If he called them gods, to whom the Word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken), do you say of Him, whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God?’” This is just such an interesting thing.  He says, “Could you just be objective for a minute?  Can you just think with me for a moment?  Can you set aside your fury, the emotion, the hate?  Stop and consider the Old Testament.  Why are you so inflamed that I am calling Myself God?  When in your own Scripture, men are called gods.” 

Wow.  I mean, this shows the mental alacrity of Jesus, which would be unparalleled in any human being who ever lived, to scour in an instant the Old Testament and pluck out an obscure section.  Not even from the law and the prophets, but the psalms. 

Go back to Psalm 82, because that’s what He quoted.  Psalm 82.  And Psalm 82 is a judgment by God on the rulers of Israel.  Verse 1.  “God takes His stand in His own congregation.”  God shows up in Israel, and He’s not happy.  “He judges in the midst of the rulers.”  So we’re talking about rulers.  And by the way, rulers were judges.  That’s essentially what they did.  They were judges.  They adjudicated issues, solved problems.  Says to the judges, “How long will you judge unjustly and show partiality to the wicked?”  You’re corrupt.  You are partial to the wicked; because of your corruption you have an affinity for the corrupt.  “Vindicate the weak and fatherless.”  You’re supposed to be their protectors.  “Do justice to the afflicted and destitute.”  The plaintiffs.  “Rescue the weak and the needy,” implied from the oppression.  “Deliver them out of the hand of the wicked.”  That’s what you’re supposed to do.  “But they do not know nor do they understand.  They walk about in darkness; all the foundations of the earth are shaken.”  Listen, everything that holds together society is rattling loose because there’s no justice.

Verse 6.  “I said, ‘You are gods, and all of you are sons of the Most High.”  What does He mean?  He means look, small G.  You are gods.  Because you are the representatives of the one true God.  You are God’s agents in the world.  You are the sons of the Most High.  He is delegated authority to you, and you receive His Word.  That’s what it says over in John 10.  If He called them gods to whom the Word of God came, they were the ones who were to teach, and apply, and uphold the Word of God.  “Nevertheless, you will die like men.”  And there’s some irony and some sarcasm in use of gods.  He may be saying, “And you think you are gods, you think you are more than you really are.”  But you will die like men, “and fall like any one of the princes.  Arise, O God, judge the earth! For it is You who possesses the nations.”

In the Old Testament, Jesus says, “Corrupt judges were called gods.”  Maybe sarcastically, maybe ironically.  But the word was used for them because they received the Word of God, and they were the instruments of God, and the agents of God.  And there’s a sense in which that’s true, with a small G.  Well, if those corrupt judges could be called gods, if He called them gods, God Himself in Scripture called them gods, to whom the Word of God came.  Do you say of Him, whom the Father set apart, and sent into the world, “You are blaspheming because I said, ‘I am the Son of God?’” You see the analogy.

Make a comparison, He says.  “If I do not the works of My Father, don’t believe Me; but if I do them, though you do not believe Me,” believe the works so that you may know and understand that the Father is in Me, and I in the Father.  This is an amazing argument.  He goes right into the Old Testament to make His case.  Certainly, if the term “gods” could be applied to corrupt rulers, it’s not a stretch for the incorruptible, perfect, sinless, righteous, Son of God to be called God.  Think what you’re doing before you start throwing stones.  Think what you’re doing. 

A footnote.  In this encounter, Jesus makes an amazing statement that the, basically, that the translators have put in parentheses in verse 35.  It’s so unique that it shows up here.  He says, “To whom the word of God came,” and by the way, “the Scripture cannot be broken.”  There’s a couple of things going on here.  The Word of God and the Scripture are parallel.  Did you see that?  They’re synonyms.  The Word of God and Scripture are synonyms.  Therefore, Scripture is the Word of God.  Therefore, the Word of God is Scripture.  The Holy Spirit, here, inspires John to write the words of our Lord Jesus accurate, and the Lord Jesus equates the Word of God with the Scripture, the Scripture with the Word of God. 

Now, that one phrase has massive, massive importance.  While in the discussion, it’s merely a footnote, a kind of digression, it is a treasure that needs to be lifted out.  What does He mean?  Scripture cannot be broken?  The word for broken, it’s not a word like broken in English.  The word is luō in the Greek, a very, very familiar Greek word to all Greek students because it’s the model of verbs that are conjugated.  So everybody knows about luōLuō means dismissed, dissolved, removed, released, annihilated, eliminated. 

So what is our Lord saying?  Scripture cannot be changed.  Scripture cannot be loosed, released, removed, dismissed, nullified.  This passage is Christ’s view of Scripture, that it is a seamless chain, and not one link can be pulled out.  Not one.  The passage itself in Psalm 82 has no connection to His deity, but He uses that word, “gods,” there to make a point from the lesser to the greater, as very often rabbis did, and He did.  But He stops in the middle of that and makes this powerful, overarching statement that Scripture cannot be broken.  And while He’s very busy proving that His claim to deity is valid by His works, He doesn’t try to prove this statement.  He doesn’t prove it.  Scripture cannot be broken, period.

Why doesn’t He prove it?  Because they don’t question that.  They understand that.  It’s a chain.  All the links have to be in place.  Scripture is the final word.  They knew it.  You can’t tamper with Scripture.  You can’t tamper with Scripture.  In fact, He makes His whole argument on one word in one obscure verse in a Psalm.  You can’t touch a word.  You can’t loosen up a word and pull it out.  That’s because all Scripture is given by inspiration of God.  Second Timothy.  That’s because no scripture comes by any private interpretation, but holy men were moved by the Spirit of God to write.  Second Peter 1.  You can’t have a more elevate view of Scripture than Jesus has. 

So, whenever we get into discussions about the authority, the inerrancy, the accuracy, the inspiration of Scripture, I like to start with: what did Jesus think of Scripture?  Because I want to have His view.  And if you don’t have His view, I’m sticking with Him.  There’s a book that’s come out recently called “Five Views on Inerrancy.”  There aren’t five views of inerrancy.  There’s one, and then there are four lies.  It’s either inerrant, or it isn’t.  It can’t be broken.  If it’s broken, it’s broken.  That’s a violation.  You can’t touch a word.  You can’t pull a word out.  And our Lord, in a discussion about the most serious claim He could ever make, turns His argument on one word.  On just one word.  This was His view of Scripture. 

Let me show you another illustration.  Go back to Matthew 22.  We have time to do this, believe it or not.  Matthew 22 verse 23.  “The Sadducees (who say there is no resurrection),” why did they say that?  Because they believed that the five books of Moses, the Pentateuch, the first five books in the Old Testament, were authored by God, and all the rest of the Old Testament was human commentary on the first five books.  Okay?  So, they believed in the first five books as the inspired Word of God.  And since Moses didn’t write about resurrection in the first five books, they don’t believe in resurrection.  They were very, very narrow, hardline, fastidious, preservers of all the stuff in the Levitical system that was part of the Mosaic section.  They saw themselves as the preservers of the true religion, rejected all oral tradition, all written tradition, all rabbinical tradition.  All of it, they rejected.  Every bit of it.  They were the hardnosed, hardline, fundamentalists.  Some people think they denied the resurrection because they were like theological liberals.  No.  They denied the resurrection because they were hyper-fundamentalists who accepted only the first five books of the Old Testament. 

So they want to stump Jesus about the resurrection, so they tell them this crazy sort of story about seven brothers, and there was a law in the Old Testament that if a man died, his brother, if he was unmarried, would take up his wife, and care for her.  And this was what brothers did.  So in the case of this hypothetical situation, seven brothers, the first marries and dies, no children.  The second marries and dies.  The third marries and dies.  All the way down to the seventh.  I would say, frankly folks, the last four guys were stupid because everybody in front of them has died, and there’s one common denominator here.  It’s the same lady in the kitchen.

But anyway, that’s not the point.  They all die.  And so, they think this is so ridiculous because if there’s a resurrection, whose wife will she be?  Jesus said: you’re mistaken.  You don’t understand the Scriptures.  There He goes back to the Scriptures again.  Nor the power of God.  “For in the resurrection, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.”  No marriage in heaven.  But regarding the resurrection, let’s get back off of your stupid story.  Let’s get back to the resurrection.  Regarding the resurrection, verse 31, “have you not read what was spoken to you by God?”  Let me take you back to the Old Testament.  Jesus goes right back to the Old Testament.  “Have you not read what was spoken to you by God?”  And He quotes Exodus 3:6 where God says: “‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ He is not the God of the dead but of the living.” 

What’s that about?  When God said that in Exodus 3, Abraham was dead, Isaac was dead, Jacob was dead.  If there’s no resurrection, God should’ve said, “I was the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.”  But when He says, “I am the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob,” it is to say that they are alive, and the whole argument turns not only on a word, but on a tense.  Present tense.  What was Jesus’ view of Scripture?  You can’t loosen a word.  You can’t touch a tense. 

And then one other illustration, Matthew 5, the Sermon on the Mount, 5:17 to 19.  Jesus says, “Don’t think that I’m come to abolish the Law,” and that’s a form of luō, that same verb, “or the Prophets; I didn’t come to abolish but to fulfill.  For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away.”  Until the end of creation as we know it, “not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law.”  You can’t touch the words.  You can’t touch the tenses.  You can’t touch the letters. 

By the way, verse 19.  “Whoever then,” and here’s the same word, luō.  “Whoever removes one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven.”  You want to know who’s least in the kingdom of heaven?  People who tamper with the inerrancy of Scripture and teach others to do the same.  Frightening.  Who’s the greatest in the kingdom?  Whoever keeps and teaches them shall be exalted. 

So, that’s Jesus’ view of Scripture.  It cannot be broken.  Now you can go back to John 10.  So, why don’t you just go to the Scripture, think objectively, put down those stones, think objectively that when someone comes from God, and speaks for God, there’s a sense in which they could be called gods, with a small G, because of that representation.  If that’s true of corrupt men, how much more is that true of the perfect, sinless incarnate God Himself.  And I’m not asking for something that can’t be validated. 

Verse 37.  “If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me.”  Make an objective judgment.  “But if I do them, though you do not believe Me,” my claims, “believe the works, so that you may know and understand that the Father is in Me, and I in the Father,” that we are one, what He said in verse 30.

How does Jesus prove that He is God?  By His works.  This is a final call.  Believe.  Believe.  Believe the works.  Believe the works, so you may know and understand.  The only way to eternal life is to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, to believe He is God in human flesh.  This is a final, gracious invitation.  You can call me a blasphemer because of My words, but you can’t possibly call me a blasphemer if you look at My works.  They all came from the Father to honor the Father.  And the notion that I do what I do by the power of hell is merely a revelation of the corruption of your own heart.  One last gracious invitation.

We come to verse 39.  Here’s the first response, consequences, consequences, final scene of the five scenes.  Consequences.  “They were seeking again to seize Him, and He eluded their grasp.”  At this point, I told you it didn’t matter what He said, didn’t matter what appeals He made, didn’t matter how merciful, or gracious, or kind.  They were fixed in their unbelief.  And they would scream for His blood all the way till they saw the Romans nail Him to a cross.  They had the same response that they had back in verse 31.  This time, they tried to seize Him again for the same reason: to stone Him to death.  And He disappeared.  They wanted to haul Him off and stone Him.  They’d do the same thing to the apostle Paul, or try to do it in Acts 21 in the same place, in the same temple. 

But it wasn’t possible.  Why?  Because His hour had not come.  He says that in chapter 7.  He says it in chapter 8.  They weren’t going to get their hands on Him for three months, until God’s timing was perfect in the final Passover. 

So the first consequence: the rejecters are confirmed again in their damning unbelief.  But then there’s a delightful ending.  There are not only rejecters; there are receivers of the truth.  Verse 40.  “He went away.”  He went away for three months.  Where did He go?  He went beyond the Jordan to the place where John was first baptizing.  Where’s that?  A place called Bethany.  In chapter 1 verse 28, house of the poor is what it means.  Sometimes called Bethabara.  This is different than the Bethany which was adjacent to Jerusalem where Mary, Martha, and Lazarus lived.  Different Bethany.  That was where John began his ministry.  So, where John began his ministry is where Jesus ended His. 

 So He went back there, and He was staying there until chapter 11 when He comes back during the Passover time, to enter Jerusalem to die.  Verse 41.  “Many came to Him and were saying, ‘While John performed no sign.’” Why didn’t John do miracles?  Wasn’t an apostle.  Signs and wonders belonged to the apostles.  He performed no sign.  Yet, everything John said about this man was true.  Now there’s a mandate for a preacher.  We don’t do miracles.  This John performs no signs.  But hopefully, everything this John says about Jesus Christ is true.  That’s what ministry is.  And it was true in John’s case.  John was dead.  John had his head cut off.  But they remembered.  It might’ve been that there was a community of people there.  I’m sure there were people who attached to him and were still there, and remembered well the several years that John carried out his ministry.  And I think John showed from the Old Testament how Jesus was the Messiah.  John was an Old Testament preacher pointing to the fulfillment in Christ. 

We don’t know the whole story of John’s ministry, but it lasted for several years.  And they come and they say: everything John said about the man was true.  They’ve heard John, and they’ve seen Christ, and they’ve seen what Christ has done.  These are the people who saw the miracles and believed they were from God, and John’s ministry comes to fruition long after he was dead, long after John was dead.  There was the echo of what he said about Jesus that was proven true through the works of Christ.  Nice to know that even before downloading sermons, ministers’ messages can be remembered.  And as a result, “Many believed in Him there.”  And to as many as received Him, He gave the right to be called the sons of God, even to those who believed on His name. 

That’s it.  That’s the final exposure, publicly.  Jesus stayed out there with His disciples and with the gathering believers until it was time to go back to Jerusalem to die.  The compelling question here is obvious: do you believe?  Do you believe the works of Jesus as supernatural?  That’s not debatable.  If they’re supernatural, they had to come from heaven or hell.  Do you believe that Jesus was an agent of Satan?  If you don’t, then He had to be God.  And if He is God, then you must believe that He is who He claimed to be.  It is blasphemy to deny Him, to reject Him, and it cuts you off forever from eternal life.  If you believe, you receive salvation.  Eternal life, forgiveness of sins, a place in God’s family, the gift of the Holy Spirit, promise of heavenly glory, everlasting bliss, joy.  It starts with believing in Jesus as the Son of God.  That’s the gospel.  That’s the Christian message, and it comes from Scripture, and Scripture always tells the truth. 

Father, we thank You for the opportunity we’ve had this morning to gather around Your presence, around Your throne, though that is in a different reality and a different dimension of existence.  We feel like we have been there.  We know that You meet with Your people, that You inhabit their praise.  We thank You for the privilege of coming to Your throne.  We thank You for the wonderful opportunity of hearing the Word concerning Christ again, because faith comes by hearing the Word concerning Christ, Paul tells us.  Faith comes by believing the claims of Christ and the work of Christ on the cross and through the resurrection. 

O Lord, I pray there will be many today, many who hear this message, who will believe.  Who could possibly believe that the supernatural works of Christ, there were so many of them they couldn’t be written if all of the books of the world were assembled for that purpose.  Who would believe that they were from hell, from Satan, when everything He did was so good, so noble, so excellent, so glorious, so God-honoring?  He had to be who He claimed to be.  The only hope of salvation, the only Savior.  Father, may You open the hearts of many to believe, to believe.  We thank You, God, for the privilege of worshiping You today, and may our worship continue even as we live to Your honor. 

And now, may the God of peace who brought up from the dead the great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord, equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever.  Everyone said, Amen.