QUESTIONS JESUS ASKED: For Which of These Good Works do you Stone me? --- John 10:31-42
By Ted Schroder,
March 19, 2017
Jesus went about doing good, healing people and ministering to their physical, emotional and spiritual needs. His good works or miracles were signs of the coming of the kingdom of God in their midst. The religious leaders were threatened by his ministry, by his popularity with the common people, by his teaching and by his claims to be one with the Father. They picked up stones to stone him to death. Jesus was not intimidated by their hostility and violent intentions. He asked them, "I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?" In other words: "What is your charge against me who have done nothing but good amongst you?" They replied, "We are not stoning you for any of these, but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God."
The modern secular world wants to kill Jesus for claiming to be God. For anyone to claim divine authority is regarded as egotistical and an affront to the desire to be one's own authority -- to be autonomous and to create one's own identity apart from any constraints. They want to kill any unique claim to be God. They want to shame anyone who claims to speak for God. They want to eliminate God from the universe. They want to delete God from conversation except as a vulgar exclamation. They want to exclude God from any possibility, from any prayer. They want to evict God from occupying any space in human lives. They want to expel God from schools and courtrooms, except as an oath of truthfulness. They want to banish God from the mind and the imagination. They want to eradicate God from the classroom and from intellectual discourse. They want to remove God from any understanding of love and virtue. They want to purge God from getting any credit or motivation for good works. They are offended at any claim of Jesus to be God. In fact, Jesus becomes an embarrassment who must be re-interpreted as a prophet whose followers have embellished his story to make him into something more than he ever claimed to be. The four Gospels, the form critics in academia say, are a fictional marketing device for what became Christianity.
These attempts to kill Jesus were present during his ministry. The eye-witness accounts of his life would not have survived except for their veracity. The person of Jesus then and now is a threat to those who will not believe. He claims to be God. What do you do with that claim? C.S. Lewis said that Jesus was either, mad, bad or God. If he were mad then his words and actions would betray his insanity. But, instead they are evidence of one of the sanest men who ever lived. If he were bad, he would not have done all the good works that are recorded in the Gospels.
"I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about him: 'I'm ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don't accept his claim to be God.' That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic -- on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg -- or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to." (C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, p.52)
Jesus answered his accusers by citing their Law which calls judges of their courts "gods' because they administered justice in the name of God. If they are accorded this title by Scripture how much more can 'the one whom the Father set apart as his very own and sent into the world deserve to be called God's Son. The proof of his identity is to be found in doing what the Father does. "But if I do it, even though you do not believe me, believe the miracles [the good works], that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father." Believe the miracles: can they not see the miracle of new life, the miracle of babies, the miracle of faith, the miracle of hope, the miracle of love, the miracle of the universe?
"The Father is in me, and I in the Father." Recall how the claims of Jesus affected his early followers. Christians were worshipping Jesus within the lifetimes of hundreds of eyewitnesses who had heard Jesus's own words, Paul's letters written only twenty years after Jesus's death make claims about Jesus including his preexistence, his divine nature, his resurrection, and his role in creation and salvation. All Christians began to worship him as the resurrected Son of God. Why was Jesus able to get people around him to believe he was God? Tim Keller writes,
"The first answer is that his life must have been exquisitely beautiful. The greatness we get a glimpse of in the Gospels must have smitten those around him. It is extraordinarily difficult to claim to be perfect and divine and then to get the people who actually live with you to believe it. It is exceedingly hard to read the Gospel accounts, to see the counter-intuitive brilliance of Jesus, and then to conclude that the basis for all these stories was someone who was either a 'lunatic or a liar.' We have seen that the historical evidence is that these narratives could not simply have been made up -- they were written too early for that, and they have the form of eyewitness testimony. But even apart from that, the reader gets the sustained sense when considering Jesus that this character could not be the product of fiction, could not simply have been made up." (Tim Keller, Making Sense of God, p.242)
If Jesus is God then what should be our response to him? We either fall down and worship him as our Savior and Lord, the revelation of the Father's love and grace who heals our doubts and fears, and forgives our failures, or we seek to kill him for he is a fraud, an impostor, a charlatan, who deceives people and leads them astray. It seems there is no middle ground.
I choose to believe the good works, the miracles, the Cross, the Resurrection, the Ascension, the promised coming of the Holy Spirit, the words of Holy Scripture which cannot be broken. "Do not believe me unless I do what the Father does." This is what the Father would do if he came among us for the Father does good works. God is the author of all that is good. He gave us His Son to do good. He is the author and source of all that is Good, True and Beautiful. He calls us to follow in his steps.
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