I would like to talk to you about the most controversial person in the history of the world. Who is he? Who does he say he is? I think you know who that is. What did he say about himself? What did people say about him then? And what do people say about him today? More importantly, what do you say about him?
Let’s begin with our text:
John 10:30-42 ESV I and the Father are one.” 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.” 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’? 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.” 39 Again they sought to arrest him, but he escaped from their hands. 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.
1. The Most Controversial Person in History
Jesus is clearly the most controversial person in history. Both history and mankind are divided over Jesus Christ. Typically, we date historical events based on whether they occurred BC “before Christ” or A.D. “anno domini” (“in the year of our Lord”) or “after Christ”.
But Christ divides not only history. He also divides men. And he said that he would do so.
Matthew 10:34-37 NLT “Don’t imagine that I came to bring peace to the earth! I came not to bring peace, but a sword. 35 ‘I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. 36 Your enemies will be right in your own household!’ 37 “If you love your father or mother more than you love me, you are not worthy of being mine; or if you love your son or daughter more than me, you are not worthy of being mine.
This is exactly what frequently happens when someone becomes a disciple of Jesus Christ. His own family members oppose him. Right now in Iraq and Syria, Christians are being crucified and beheaded by Muslims who consider them to be infidels. Jesus demanded absolute allegiance and loyalty to himself. You cannot be neutral about Jesus. You cannot say that he was simply a good man or a good teacher. That will never do. He did not leave us with that option. He claims to be God. You either worship and serve him, or you deny him.
Here in John 10, he makes three inflammatory statements… statements that provoke the Jews to take up stones to stone him to death because what Jesus said was blasphemy. Unless, of course… unless he was telling the truth.
What does he say?
- John 10:30 ESV “…I and the Father are one.”
- John 10:36 ESV ‘I am the Son of God’
- John 10:38 ESV “…the Father is in me and I am in the Father.”
When Jesus asked why they were going to stone him, the Jews responded,
John 10:33 ESV “…because you, being a man, make yourself God.”
This controversy over the identity was not limited to the Gospels and the earthly life of Christ. Sometimes we think that the gospel of Jesus Christ was first preached in a vacuum, in a world where there were no competing religions or beliefs. Sometime we have the idea that people were simply waiting for Christians to come with the gospel. But that was not the case.
The gospel was preached in the context of much opposition. There were many different religious beliefs. People believe in many gods and lords. There were so-called mystery religions. There were Roman and Greek divinities, some of them mentioned in the pages of the New Testament such as Artemis, Zeus, and Hermes. The city of Athens was filled with idols, even an altar to “the unknown god” (Acts 17:16, 23). Acts 19 tells us that the new believers in Christ Jesus had practiced magic arts before coming to Christ, and that they brought their books to be burned in the sight of everyone. Those books were worth about 600 million vatu ($6,000,000 USD).
Not only were there many different religions in the world. Some people tried to change the message of the gospel to make it conform to their ideas of what was better. Time and again we read warnings in the New Testament about people who would deny the truth about Christ.
- The Apostle Paul warns us about people who would say “twisted things, to draw away the disciples after themselves” (Acts 20:30).
- The Apostle Peter warns us about false teachers who “cleverly teach destructive heresies and even deny the Master who bought them” (2 Peter 2:1, NLT). He further warns us about those who are ignorant and unstable and who twist the Scriptures to their own destruction (2 Peter 3:16).
- The Apostle John warns us about many deceivers in the world who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh (2 John 7). He tells us that “everyone who does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God” (2 John 9).
- Jesus himself warns us many times in the Gospels about false teachers and false prophets.
Our problem is that we do not take these warnings seriously. We somehow think that all the false teachers live in other parts of the world, that here in Vanuatu we are immune to them. The truth is, they are all around us. They preach another Jesus, a Jesus who is not the same Jesus that we find in the pages of the Bible. They preach a different gospel, a gospel different from the gospel that we find in the Bible. They may be on television. They may be walking the streets of our villages. The Scriptures warn us to be careful, to be vigilant, and to study the Word of God so that we are not deceived.
Thankfully, there are true churches here where the Word of God is preached and taught and lived by. These are churches that have only one authoritative book: the Bible, the Word of God. There are many good translations that are used by many different churches and denominations. Some faithful versions are
- King James Version
- New King James Version
- English Standard Version
- New International Version
In French there are also faithful versions:
- La Colombe,
- La Nouvelle édition de Genève
- La version de Darby
The Bislama Bible is also a good paraphrase of the Bible.
But there are other false churches that promote and hand out false Bibles that are not faithful to the biblical text. Some churches add other books to the Bible and claim that they are just as inspired as the Bible or more inspired than the Bible.
If you belong to one of these false churches, I would encourage you to get a true Bible and study it for yourself. Prayerfully consider what Jesus says about himself.
So you see, to this day, people are divided over Jesus Christ. The question is crucially important. As the Apostle John says,
2 John 1:9 ESV Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son.
Jesus is still today the most controversial person in the history of the world. Who is this Jesus?
1.1. Jesus’ Oneness with the Father
We see the controversy in John 10 when Jesus says, “I and the Father are one.” What does this mean? Is Jesus simply saying that he is united with God in a mission? Does this mean that Jesus and the Father are the same person? What does this “oneness” mean?
The French language has two genders: masculine and feminine. For example, a tree is masculine: un arbre. But a door is feminine: une porte. But in the Greek, there are three genders: masculine, feminine, and neuter. When Jesus said that he and the Father are one, he could have use the masculine form (heis), but that would have meant that he and the Father were one person. He did not use that form; he used the neuter form of the word “one” (hen) to show that the Father and the Son are two persons.
If the Father and the Son were one person, there would be no distinction between them. John could not say as he did in 1:1b and 1:2, “the Word was with God.” John could not refer to Jesus praying to his Father, or being sent by the Father, or obeying the Father, or returning to the Father. He could not say as he does in his First Epistle, “and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ” (1 John 1:3). He could not say as he does in 2 John 9, “Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son.”
When Jesus says, “I and the Father are one,” he is not saying that there is no difference between the Father and the Son.
This saying, “I and the Father are one,” does not stand by itself. Jesus makes this declaration in a book that openly declares that the Word was God (1:1), and that the Word is the only true God who is at the Father’s right hand (1:18). That is very strong language pointing to the deity of Jesus Christ. It is in this book that the climactic confession is “My Lord and my God!” (20:28). Jesus himself takes the sacred name of God on his own lips and states that he himself exists before Abraham.
The context is all-important for understanding what Jesus meant. The Jews had asked him to tell them plainly if he was the Christ. Jesus responds that he has both told them and shown them through the works that he does in his Father’s name, but they do not believe because they are not his sheep. His sheep hear his voice. He knows his sheep. They follow him. And he gives them eternal life.
Jesus is not merely some great prophet; he gives eternal life to his sheep. No one but God can give eternal life. But Jesus explains further by comparing what he does with what the Father does:
- “…No one will snatch them out of my hand…” (v. 28).
- …No one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand” (v. 29).
In 5:19, we saw that whatever the Father does, the Son does likewise. In the previous verse (5:18), we are told why the Son does whatever he sees the Father doing: Jesus is equal with God.
Now, Jesus protects his sheep just like the Father protects his sheep: “No one will snatch them out of my hand. No one can snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”
1.2. Worthy to be Stoned
The immediate context tells us that the Jews knew exactly what Jesus meant:
John 10:31 ESV The Jews picked up stones again to stone him.
“Again.” This was not the first time. The Jewish authorities had wanted to kill him in chapter 5. Jesus had called God his own Father: “My Father is working until now, and I am working” (5:17). In other words, “I have the right and the power to do whatever God my Father does.” Then John explains, “This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because… he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God” (5:18).
Once again, they want to stone him for making himself equal with God, this time by saying, “I and the Father are one.”
To claim to be equal with God is blasphemous. Unless, of course, it is God who is saying that He is God!
John 10:32 ESV Jesus answered them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you going to stone me?”
Jesus is asking them to consider his life and his works. He had already challenged them, “Which one of you convicts me of sin?” (8:46). Now he challenges them, “I have shown you many good works that could only come from the Father. I changed the water into wine (2:9). I healed the nobleman’s son (4:51). I healed the man who had been lame for 38 years (5:5). I fed the five thousand with five loaves and two fish (6:10-12). I healed the man who have been born blind (9:7). For which of these works that only God could do are you going to stone me?”
1.3. First Degree Irony
John 10:33 ESV 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.”
Notice those words “you, being a man, make yourself God.” This is delicious irony. The Jews do not fully understand what they are saying. On one level it is absolutely true. They understand that Jesus is talking like God: “I and the Father are one.”
In John 8:53, they had asked, “Who do you make yourself out to be?” Now they answer their own question: “You, being a man, make yourself God!”
Yes, in declaring that he was one with the Father, Jesus was once again claiming equality with God. But the reader of John’s Gospel knows that the full truth is the very opposite of what the Jews were saying: Jesus was not merely a man who was making himself God; Jesus was God who made himself man! That is precisely what we read in the first verses of this Gospel:
John 1:1 ESV In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
John 1:14 ESV And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
More than 40 times in this Gospel, Jesus says that the Father sent him into the world. He is not merely a man who makes himself God; Jesus is God who made himself man that we might be believe on him and have eternal life.
2. You are gods!
Now we come to some verses that are greatly twisted by cultists and other false teachers:
John 10:34-36 ESV 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’?
There is a so-called church here in Vanuatu that says that we can become gods. It teaches that God became God by evolution. He was first just an ordinary man like you and me, but by obeying certain teachings, he evolved and became a god. They have a saying from one of their false prophets: “As we are, God once was. As God is, we can become.” According to the teaching of this church, you can become a god, have your own planet, and have your own worshippers. So this false church does not believe in only one true God. It believes in many gods. It is not monotheistic; it is polytheistic. It teaches that there are many gods and that you can become a god, too. That seems incredible, but it is not too surprising that some people are attracted to the idea. After all, that was the first lie of Satan, “God knows that when you eat of the fruit of this forbidden tree, you will be like God” (Genesis 3:5).
So here is a passage that is twisted to teach that there are many gods.
Jesus is quoting from Psalm 82:6,
Psalm 82:6 ESV I said, “You are gods, sons of the Most High, all of you;
The very next verse says,
Psalm 82:7 ESV nevertheless, like men you shall die, and fall like any prince.”
The psalm is addressed to humans, to human judges who have judged unjustly:
Psalm 82:1-8 ESV A Psalm of Asaph. God has taken his place in the divine council; in the midst of the gods he holds judgment: 2 “How long will you judge unjustly and show partiality to the wicked? Selah 3 Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute. 4 Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.” 5 They have neither knowledge nor understanding, they walk about in darkness; all the foundations of the earth are shaken. 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.” 8 Arise, O God, judge the earth; for you shall inherit all the nations!
These men are unjust judges, ruling over others as if they have absolute right, as if they are gods. God himself mocks these so-called gods and reminds them, “Nevertheless, you will die like men, and fall like any prince” (v. 7).
God had said to Moses,
Exodus 7:1 ESV And the LORD said to Moses, “See, I have made you like God to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron shall be your prophet.
Yet, Moses was still a man, not a god. One pastor said,
Don’t fail to notice Jesus’ purpose for choosing that verse. It would have been a very familiar one to the Scribes and Pharisees. They would have understood that that verse was a condemnation of wicked rulers, and Jesus is simply echoing the irony of the original Psalm.
Walter Martin wrote an excellent comment on this, he said, “Jesus mocks the people as if to say, ‘You all think you’re gods yourselves. What’s one more god among you?'” Oh, the irony. You’re going to stone me for claiming to be God, you’re all claiming the same thing, what’s one more god? The sarcasm. (MacArthur)
2.1. The “Little Gods” Doctrine
Unfortunately, much of this “little gods” teaching has hit the church. Earl Paulk writes, “Adam and Eve were placed in the world as the seed and expression of God. Just as dogs have puppies and cats have kittens, so God has little gods.” I have heard that very teaching from a visiting false prophet who spoke in one of our churches. I also heard Kenneth Copeland say, “You don’t have a god in you. You are one!” Kenneth Hagin is gravely mistaken in asserting that the Christian “is as much an incarnation [of God] as is Jesus of Nazareth.” And Kenneth Copeland is in grave error when he insists, “Jesus is no longer the only begotten Son of God.”
This false teaching is now available to us on our televisions. Do not be deceived. The Scriptures are clear:
ESV Deuteronomy 4:35 To you it was shown, that you might know that the LORD is God; there is no other besides him.
ESV Deuteronomy 4:39 know therefore today, and lay it to your heart, that the LORD is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath; there is no other.
ESV Deuteronomy 32:39 “‘See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god beside me; I kill and I make alive; I wound and I heal; and there is none that can deliver out of my hand.
ESV Isaiah 43:10 “You are my witnesses,” declares the LORD, “and my servant whom I have chosen, that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor shall there be any after me.
ESV Isaiah 43:11 I, I am the LORD, and besides me there is no savior.
ESV Isaiah 44:6 Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the LORD of hosts: “I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god.
ESV Isaiah 44:7 Who is like me? Let him proclaim it. Let him declare and set it before me, since I appointed an ancient people. Let them declare what is to come, and what will happen.
ESV Isaiah 44:8 Fear not, nor be afraid; have I not told you from of old and declared it? And you are my witnesses! Is there a God besides me? There is no Rock; I know not any.”
ESV Isaiah 45:5 I am the LORD, and there is no other, besides me there is no God; I equip you, though you do not know me,
ESV Isaiah 45:6 that people may know, from the rising of the sun and from the west, that there is none besides me; I am the LORD, and there is no other.
ESV Isaiah 45:18 For thus says the LORD, who created the heavens (he is God!), who formed the earth and made it (he established it; he did not create it empty, he formed it to be inhabited!): “I am the LORD, and there is no other.
ESV Isaiah 45:21 Declare and present your case; let them take counsel together! Who told this long ago? Who declared it of old? Was it not I, the LORD? And there is no other god besides me, a righteous God and a Savior; there is none besides me.
ESV Isaiah 45:22 “Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other.
ESV Isaiah 46:9 remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me,
There is no god like the “one true God” (John 17:3). And yet, Jesus claims to be one with the Father. He explains in verse 36:
John 10:36 ESV 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 is saying, if God can mock human judges and call them gods, then how can you say that I am blaspheming when I say that I am the Son of God since the Father consecrated me and sent me into world?
2.2. Jesus the Creator
Let’s consider one more passage from Isaiah and see how it relates to what the New Testament says about Jesus Christ.
Isaiah 44:24 ESV Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, who formed you from the womb: “I am the LORD, who made all things, who alone stretched out the heavens, who spread out the earth by myself,
In this verse, the LORD — Yahweh — says that he created the entire universe all by himself, “I am the LORD. I made all things. I alone stretched out the heavens. I spread out the earth by myself.” Twice in that verse he says that he did it alone, by himself.
Yet, when we come to the New Testament, we read that God created everything through Christ:
ESV John 1:3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.
ESV Hebrews 1:2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.
God says this to His Son in Hebrews 1:10,
ESV Hebrews 1:10 And, “You, Lord, laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning, and the heavens are the work of your hands;
ESV Colossians 1:16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities– all things were created through him and for him.
So in Isaiah, God says that he created the universe alone, all by himself. But in the New Testament, he says that he did it through Christ. What does that mean? That means that Jesus Christ is God. Yahweh is the name of the God who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
3. The Works that Jesus Does, Prove that He is God
Jesus does the works of God, like creating the universe, giving eternal life, raising the dead. He challenges the Pharisees:
John 10:37-38 ESV 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.”
Jesus once again claimed equality with God: “believe the works that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.” But they would not believe, though many others would. Again they tried to arrest him, but he escaped from their hands.
This chapter concludes with Jesus removed from Jerusalem across the Jordan where John the Baptist had been baptizing. ***Many came to him. Many believed John’s testimony. Many believed in Christ there.
What will you do with Christ? The Pharisees said that Jesus blasphemed by making himself God. What do you believe? Do you believe they were mistaken? Do you believe that they had misunderstood Jesus? Do you then agree with the Pharisees that Jesus is not God?
“These things were written that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you might have life in his name” (20:31).
John 10:41-42 ESV 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.
Put your trust in Christ. He is God in the flesh. He is your only hope.
See also “Gospel of John”:
- John 01:01-05, 14-18, “God in the Flesh”
- John 01:06-08, 19-34, “The Witness”
- John 01:35-51, “Finding the Messiah”
- John 02:01-11, “Believing”
- John 02:13-25, “Christ Cleanses the Temple”
- John 02:23-03:15, “You Must Be Born Again”
- John 03:01-15 “The Purpose of the New Birth”
- John 04:19-24, “The Seeking God”
- John 05:01-18, “Jesus: Who Does He Think He Is?”
- John 05:19-29, “Jesus, What right do you have?”
- John 05:30-46, “Jesus’ Witnesses”
- John 06:01-71, “No Appetite for the Bread of Life”
- John 07:01-39, “History’s Most Controversial Person”
- John 08:02-11, “Guilt – What to Do with It”
- John 08:12-30, “Jesus, the Light of the World”
- John 08:31-36, “Life’s Greatest Freedom!”
- John 08:31-47, “Children of God, or Sons of Satan?”
- John 08:48-59, “Who Does Jesus Make Himself Out To Be?”
- John 09:01-41, “Blind Man Seeing, Seeing Men Blind”
- John 10:01-06, “The Good Shepherd, Part 1”
- John 10:07-21, “The Good Shepherd, Part 2”
- John 10:22-30, “Missing the Obvious: Jesus is the Christ”
- John 10:30-42, “Jesus, the Most Controversial Person in History”
- John 11:01-45, “When God Is Late”
- John 12:01-19, “The Triumphal Entry in the Shadow of the Cross”
- The only true God and Jesus Christ whom he sent