Jesus concludes his discourse with “the Jews,” that is, the Jewish religious leaders, saying,
(John 10:30 ESV) 30 “I and the Father are one.”
That was, in reality, more than a little gratuitous. Jesus is again leaning into the punch. After refusing to say, “I’m the Messiah,” he very nearly says, “I am God”!
(John 10:31-33 ESV) 31 The Jews picked up stones again to stone him. 32 Jesus answered them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you going to stone me?” 33 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.”
Predictably, the leaders pick up stones. They seem to always be reaching for stones. That really does say something about them.
Jesus decides it’s time for some fast talking.
(John 10:34-36 ESV) 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’?”
Jesus quotes Psalm 82:6 —
(Psa 82:6-7 ESV) 6 I said, “You are gods, sons of the Most High, all of you; 7 nevertheless, like men you shall die, and fall like any prince.”
It’s a little odd for Jesus to refer to a psalm as “law,” a term normally used for the Torah, but in this case, Jesus wants to balance the Psalms against the command to stone blasphemers.
It’s even odder that he say “your” law. After all, it’s God’s law, God’s Psalms. Why “your”? My best guess is that it’s rather like the English “your precious law.” Jesus sees them abusing the Law in ways that distort God’s purposes. The Law, as the Jews interpret it, therefore, is no longer God’s Law but the law of the Jewish leaders. God wants nothing to do with their version of the Torah.
The NET Bible translators explain the interpretational problem Jesus presents to us
The psalm was understood in rabbinic circles as an attack on unjust judges who, though they have been given the title “gods” because of their quasi-divine function of exercising judgment, are just as mortal as other men. …
[T]his is evidently a case of arguing from the lesser to the greater, a common form of rabbinic argument. The reason the OT judges could be called gods is because they were vehicles of the word of God (cf. John 10:35). But granting that premise, Jesus deserves much more than they to be called God. He is the
Word incarnate, whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world to save the world (John 10:36). … If it is permissible to call men “gods” because they were the vehicles of the word of God, how much more permissible is it to use the word “God” of him who is the Word of God?
I just can’t help imagining Jesus as the sort of guy who likes to tell jokes at the expense of the obtuse, all the while winking at his friends, who get the joke.
The Pharisees are reaching for stones, and Jesus is throwing out rabbinic syllogisms, knowing that the Pharisees (like many of us here, myself included) just can’t resist a good argument. These guys would rather argue the true meaning of Psalm 82 — a difficult exegetical puzzle for anyone — than stone Jesus. They can always throw stones later.
(John 10:37-38 ESV) 37 “If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me; 38 but if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.”
Pay attention! Jesus says, “Even if you don’t like my exegesis or my claims, you can’t argue against my works. Believe because of my works!” This should be exactly the claim of the church.
We’d rather argue, “Of course, we don’t live it. But isn’t our logic beautiful? Don’t our words truly reflect the scriptures? Believe because of our words — not our works.”
Admittedly, we’re not Jesus, and the gift to heal the blind isn’t given to many, but we can still do works that indisputably demonstrate that we are one with the Father.
(John 10:39 ESV) 39 Again they sought to arrest him, but he escaped from their hands.
And, again, John doesn’t share how Jesus managed to flee from the Pharisees in the Temple courts. But God has a way of getting what he wants.
(John 10:40-42 ESV) 40 He went away again across the Jordan to the place where John had been baptizing at first, and there he remained. 41 And many came to him. And they said, “John did no sign, but everything that John said about this man was true.” 42 And many believed in him there.
And what an encouraging note on which to end a chapter! The testimony of John plus the signs Jesus did bring more believers, evidently in the vicinity of Jericho.
Remember, this is where the Israelites crossed the Jordan to enter the Promised Land. It’s the crossing of promise, as it were. It’s where the victory began. It’s a place filled with a sense of opportunity. Something big — really big — is surely about to happen.