Jesus’ Life and Ministry
Further Attempts to Kill Jesus
SINCE it is wintertime, Jesus is walking in the sheltered area known as the colonnade of Solomon. It is alongside the temple. Here Jews encircle him and begin to say: “How long are you to keep our souls in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us outspokenly.”
“I told you,” Jesus replies, “and yet you do not believe.” Jesus had not directly told them that he was the Christ, as he had told the Samaritan woman at the well. Yet he had, in effect, revealed his identity when he explained to them that he was from the realms above and had existed before Abraham.
Jesus, however, wants people to reach the conclusion themselves that he is the Christ by comparing his activities with what the Bible foretold that the Christ would accomplish. That is why earlier he charged his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Christ. And that is why he now goes on to say to these hostile Jews: “The works that I am doing in the name of my Father, these bear witness about me. But you do not believe.”
Why do they not believe? Because of lack of evidence that Jesus is the Christ? No, but for the reason Jesus gives when he tells them: “You are none of my sheep. My sheep listen to my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. And I give them everlasting life, and they will by no means ever be destroyed, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. What my Father has given me is something greater than all other things, and no one can snatch them out of the hand of the Father.”
Jesus then describes his close relationship with his Father, explaining: “I and the Father are one.” Since Jesus is on earth and his Father is in heaven, clearly he is not saying that he and his Father are literally, or physically, one. Rather, he means that they are one in purpose or are at unity.
Angered by Jesus’ words, the Jews pick up stones to kill him, even as they did a couple of months earlier, during the Festival of Booths. Courageously facing his would-be murderers, Jesus says: “I displayed to you many fine works from the Father. For which of those works are you stoning me?”
“We are stoning you, not for a fine work,” they answer, “but for blasphemy, even because you, although being a man, make yourself a god.” Since Jesus never claimed to be a god, why do the Jews say this?
Evidently it is because Jesus attributes to himself powers that they believe belong exclusively to God. For example, he just said of the “sheep,” “I give them everlasting life,” which is something no human can do. The Jews, however, overlook the fact that Jesus acknowledges receiving authority from his Father.
That Jesus claims to be less than God, he next shows by asking: “Is it not written in your Law [at Psalm 82:6], ‘I said: “You are gods”’? If he called ‘gods’ those against whom the word of God came, and yet the Scripture cannot be nullified, do you say to me whom the Father sanctified and dispatched into the world, ‘You blaspheme,’ because I said, I am God’s Son?”
Yes, since the Scriptures call even unjust human judges “gods,” what fault can these Jews find with Jesus for saying, “I am God’s Son”? Jesus adds: “If I am not doing the works of my Father, do not believe me. But if I am doing them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, in order that you may come to know and may continue knowing that the Father is in union with me and I am in union with the Father.”
When Jesus says this, the Jews try to seize him. But he escapes, even as he did earlier at the Festival of Booths. He leaves Jerusalem and travels across the Jordan River to where John began baptizing nearly four years earlier. This location apparently is not far from the southern shore of the Sea of Galilee, a two-day journey or so from Jerusalem.
Many people come to Jesus at this place and begin to say: “John, indeed, did not perform a single sign, but as many things as John said about this man were all true.” Thus many put faith in Jesus here. John 10:22-42; 4:26; 8:23, 58; Matthew 16:20.
◆ By what means does Jesus want people to identify him as the Christ?
◆ How are Jesus and his Father one?
◆ Why, evidently, do the Jews say that Jesus is making himself a god?
◆ How does Jesus’ quotation from the Psalms show that he is not claiming to be equal to God?