In our study this week of John 10:22-42, we come to verse 30 which is Jesus’ big finish, referring back to the question originally posed to him by the religious leaders. Remember the question? It is the religious leaders’ question in verse 24: “Are you really the Messiah?” In verse 30, Jesus does them one better. He is not just the Messiah, he says, He and God the Father are one.
With that statement, Jesus has effectively dropped a theological bomb on the religious leaders. Have you seen the meme where MMA commentators have a really big reaction to a turn of events in the ring? The commentators lose their minds, astounded by what they just saw. Something like that must have happened to the religious leaders. When Jesus says, “I and the Father are one,” he is saying, “I’m not just the Messiah, I am God.” And ka-bloom, the religious leaders had a huge reaction. Look at verse 31.
“Again the Jews picked up stones to stone him,”
The Jewish religious leaders are tearing their hair out, pushing and shoving to try to find some baseball-sized rocks, because Jesus has just crossed the line…at least in their minds. Notice that John, in this verse, writes the word, “Again.” This is not the first time that the religious leaders wanted to stone him. Back in chapter 8:59 they tried to seize Jesus when he said something similar, “Before Abraham was, I am.” At that time the religious leaders knew that he was insinuating that he was equal with God, but now in chapter 10 verse 30, Jesus is blatant about his revealing his identity when he says, “I and the Father are one.”
So they take action to stone Jesus. Are they just angry? No, they are following the Old Testament Law which says in Leviticus 24:16,
“Anyone who blasphemes the name of the Lord must be put to death. The entire assembly must stone him. Whether an alien or native-born, when he blasphemes the Name, he must be put to death.”
The religious leaders are correctly interpreting the Law. Jesus is claiming to be God, and if he were merely a human, they would have been right in charging him with the crime of blasphemy. But they were also very wrong in two ways.
First, they didn’t give Jesus due process of a trial, but instead they rushed to capital punishment. Second, and this is the more important way they are wrong, Jesus is not merely a human. When he says, “I and the Father are One,” he is telling the truth. Of course, though, the religious leaders didn’t believe him when he said he was the Messiah. They didn’t believe the miracles proved he was the Messiah, and they are definitely not going to believe he is God.
In their very self-assured opinion, with no possibility that they are wrong, they have determined that Jesus is wrong, and that he must die, having committed blasphemy. With stones in their hands, Jesus speaks to them. Look at verse 32,
“But Jesus said to them, ‘I have shown you many great miracles from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?’”
Jesus makes a very wise move here, which is no surprise because he is Jesus. His method for stopping them before they start launching stones is to ask them a question. We have seen Jesus harness the power of asking questions many times (such as this post). Now he stays his own execution with a thought-provoking question.
What question would be so effective? It is a question about his miracles. His question about miracles points the religious leaders back to something very compelling. He is basically saying, “People, I am not just saying that I am the Messiah, that the Father and I are one. Anyone can say anything they want. But I have proof. My miracles! What about the miracles I have done?” In other words, Jesus is saying that he should not be executed because his miracles prove he is who he says he is.
Will this rationale win over the religious leaders? We’ll find out in the next post.
Photo by Towfiqu barbhuiya on Unsplash
One thought on “How Jesus stayed his execution with a question – John 10:22-42, Part 4”