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JOHN 10:22-42 It is by no means a simple task either to analyze or to summarize the second half of John 10. The twenty-second verse clearly begins a new section of the chapter, but it is equally clear that what follows is closely related to that which has gone before. The Lord is no longer talking to “the Pharisees,” but to “the Jews.” Nevertheless, it is in His shepherd character, as related to His own, that He is here viewed. Yet while there is this in common between the first and second halves of John 10, there is a notable difference between them. In the former, Christ is seen in His mediatorship; in the latter, it is His essential glories which are the more prominent.
In the first part of John 10 it is Christ in “the form of a servant” which is before us. He gains entrance to the sheepfold by “the porter opening to him” (verse 3). He is the “door” into God’s presence (verse 9), the Way unto the Father. There, He is seen as the One who was to “give his life for the sheep” (verse 11). There, we behold Him in the place of obedience, in subjection to the “commandment” of the father (verse 18). But mark the contrast in the second half of John 10. Here, He presents Himself as the One endowed with the sovereign right to “give eternal life” to His own (verse 28); as One possessed of almighty power, so that none can pluck them out of His hand (verse 28); as one with the Father (verse 30); as “the Son of God” (verse 36). It seems evident then that the central design of the passage before us is to display the essential glories of the person of the God-man. It is not so much the Godhood of Christ which is here in view, as it is the Deity of the One who humbled Himself to become man.
What is recorded in the latter half of John 10 provided a most pertinent, though tragic, conclusion to the first section of the Gospel. It was wintertime (verse 22); the season of ingathering was now over; the “sun of righteousness” had completed His official circuit, and the genial warmth of summer had now given place to the season of chilling frosts. The Jews were celebrating “the feast of the dedication,” which commemorated the purification of the temple. But for the true Temple, the One to whom the temple had pointed — God tabernacling in their midst — they had no heart. The Lord Jesus is presented as walking in the temple, but it is to be carefully noted that He was “in Solomon’s porch” (verse 23). which means that He was on the outside of the sacred enclosure, Israel’s “house” was left unto them desolate (cf. Matthew 23:38)!While here in the porch, “the Jews” (the religious leaders) came to Christ with the demand that He tell them openly if He were “the Christ” (verse 24), saying, “How long dost thou make us to doubt?” This was the language of unbelief, and uttered at that late date, showed the hopelessness of their condition. Following this interview of the Jews with Christ, and their unsuccessful attempt to apprehend Him, the Lord retires beyond Jordan, “unto the place where John at first baptized” (verse 40). Thus did Israel’s Messiah return to the place where He had formally dedicated Himself to His mission. Further details will come before us in the course of the exposition. Below is an attempt to analyze our passage: 1. During the feast of dedication Jesus walks in Solomon’s porch: verses 22, 23. 2. The Jews demand an open proclamation of His Messiah-ship: verse 24. 3. The Lord explains why a granting of their request was useless: verses 25, 26. 4. The eternal security of His sheep: verses 27-30. 5. The Jews attempt to stone Him because of His avowal of Deity: verses 31-33. 6. Christ’s defense of His Deity: verses 34-38. 7. Christ leaves Jerusalem and goes beyond Jordan, where many believe on Him: 39, 42. “And it was at Jerusalem the feast of dedication, and it was winter” ( John 10:22).
The feast of dedication was observed at Jerusalem in memorial of the purification of the Temple after it had been polluted by the idolatries of Antiochus Epiphanes. Proof of this is to be found in the fact that we are here told the time was “winter.” Therefore the “feast” here mentioned could not be in remembrance of the dedication of Solomon’s temple, for this temple had been dedicated at harvest-time ( 1 Kings 8:2); nor was it to celebrate the building of Nehemiah’s temple, for that had been dedicated in the spring-time ( Ezra 6:15,16). The “feast” here referred to must be that which had been instituted by Judas Maccabaeus, on his having purified the temple after the pollution of it by Antiochus, about 165 B. C. This “feast” was celebrated every year for eight successive days in the month of December (1 Maccabees 4:52, 59), and is mentioned by Josephus (Antiq. 12:7, etc.). Thus the words, “and it was winter” enable us to identify this feast. “And it was at Jerusalem the feast of the dedication, and it was winter.”
Here, as always in Scripture, there is a deeper meaning than the mere historical. The mention of “winter” at this point is most significant and solemn. This tenth chapter of John closes the first main section of the fourth Gospel. From this point onwards the Lord Jesus discourses no more before the religious leaders. His public ministry was almost over. The Jews knew not their “day of visitation,” and henceforth the things which “belonged to their peace” were hidden from their eyes ( Luke 19:42). So far as they were concerned the words of Jeremiah applied with direct and solemn force: “The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved” ( John 8:20).
For them there was nothing but an interminable “winter.” Significant and suitable then is this notice of the season of coldness and barrenness as an introduction to what follows.
What we have just pointed out in connection with the moral force of this reference to “winter” encourages us to look for a deeper significance in this mention here of “the feast of the dedication.” Nowhere else in Scripture is this particular feast referred to. This makes it the more difficult to ascertain its significance here. That there is some definite reason for the Holy Spirit noticing it, and that there is a pertinent and profound meaning to it when contemplated in its connections, we are fully assured. What, then, is it?
As already pointed out, the last half of John 10 closes the first great section of John’s Gospel, a section which has to do with the public ministry of Christ. The second section of this Gospel records His private ministry, concluding with His death and resurrection. The distinctive character of these two sections correspond exactly with the two chief purposes of our Lord’s incarnation, which were to present Himself to Israel as their promised Messiah, and to offer Himself as a sacrifice for sin. What, then, remained? Only the still more important work which was to be accomplished by His death and resurrection. He had presented Himself to Israel; now, shortly, He would offer Himself as a sacrifice to God. It is to this “the dedication ” here points.
It is in this Gospel, alone of the four, that the Lord Jesus is hailed as “the lamb of God,” and if the reader will turn back to Exodus 12 he will find that the “lamb” was to be separated from the flock some days before it was to be killed (see verses 3, 5, 6). In keeping with this, note how in this passage (and nowhere else) the Lord Jesus speaks of Himself as the One whom the Father had “sanctified” (verse 36), and mark how at the end of the chapter He is seen leaving Jerusalem and going away “beyond Jordan” (verse 40)! That the Holy Spirit has here prefaced this final conversation between the Savior and the Jews by mentioning “the feast of the dedication ” is in beautiful and striking accord with the fact that from this point onwards Christ was now dedicated to the Cross, as hitherto He had been engaged in manifesting Himself to Israel.
The interpretation suggested above is confirmed and established by two other passages in the New Testament. The Greek word rendered “dedication” occurs nowhere else in the New Testament, but it is found twice in its verbal form. In Hebrews 9:18 we read, “Whereupon neither the first testament was dedicated without blood” ( Hebrews 9:18).
In Hebrews 10:19,20 we are told, “Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest, by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, which he hath consecrated [dedicated ] for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh.” In each of these instances “dedication” is connected with blood -shedding ! And it was to this, the shedding of His precious blood, that the Lord Jesus was now (after His rejection by the Nation) dedicated! An additional item still further confirming our exposition is found in the fact that the historical reference in John 10:22 was to the dedication of the temple, and in John 2:19 the Savior refers to Himself as “this temple” — “destroy this temple , and in three days I will raise it up.” The antitypical dedication of the temple was the Savior offering Himself to God! Most fitting then was it that the Holy Spirit should here mention the typical dedication of the temple immediately after the Lord had thrice referred to His “laying down” His life (see verses 15, 17, 18)! “And Jesus walked in the temple in Solomon’s porch” ( John 10:23).
Josephus informs us (Antiq. John 8:3) that Solomon, when he built the temple, filled up a part of the valley adjacent to mount Zion, and built a portico over it toward the East. This was a magnificent structure, supported by a wall four hundred cubits high, made out of stones of vast bulk. It continued to the time of Agrippa, which was several years after the death of Christ. Twice more is mention made of “Solomon’s porch” in the New Testament, and what is found in these passages points a sharp contrast from the one now before us. In Acts 3:11 we are told that, following the healing of the lame beggar by Peter and John, “all the people ran together unto them in the porch that is called Solomon’s, greatly wondering.” But here in John 10:23, following our Lord’s healing of the blind beggar, there is no hint of any wonderment among the people!
Again in Acts 5:12 we read, “And they were all with one accord in Solomon’s porch.” This is in evident contrast, designed contrast, from what is before us in our present passage. Here, immediately after the reference to our Lord walking in Solomon’s porch, we read, “then came the Jews round about him, and said unto him, How long dost thou make us to doubt?” They were manifestly out of accord with Him. They were opposed to Him, and like beasts of prey sought only His life. Thus we see once more the importance and value of comparing scripture with scripture.
By thus linking together these three passages which make mention of “Solomon’s porch” we discern the more clearly how that the design of our passage is to present the God-man as “despised and rejected of men.” “Then came the Jews round about him, and said unto him, How long dost thou make us to doubt? If thou be the Christ, tell us plainly” ( John 10:24).
The appropriateness of this incident at the close of John 10, and the force of this request of the Jews — obviously a disingenuous one — should now be apparent to the reader. Coming as it does right at the close of the first main section of this Gospel, a section which is concerned with the public ministry of Christ before Israel, this demand of the religious leaders makes it plain how useless it was for the Messiah to make any further advances toward the Nation at large, and how justly He might now abandon them to that darkness which they preferred to the light;, By now, it was ,unmistakably plain that the religious leaders received him not, and this request of theirs for Him to tell them “plainly” or “openly” if He were the Messiah, was obviously made with no other purpose than to gain evidence that they might apprehend Him as a rebel against the Roman government. But, if such was their evil design, did they not already have the needed evidence to formulate the desired charge against Him? The answer is, No, not evidence sufficiently explicit. “How long dost thou make us to doubt? if thou be the Christ, tell us plainly.” It is a significant thing that the Lord Jesus had not declared, plainly and openly in public, that He was the Messiah. He had avowed His Messiahship to His disciples ( John 1:41,49, etc.); to the Samaritans ( John 4:42), and to the blind beggar ( John 9:37); but He had not done so before the multitudes or to the religious leaders. This designed omission accomplished a double purpose: it made it impossible for the authorities to lawfully seize Him before God’s appointed time, and it enforced the responsibility of the Nation at large. That the Lord Jesus was the One that the prophets announced should come, had been abundantly attested by His person, His life, and His works; yet the absence of any formal announcement in public served as an admirable test of the people.
His miraculous works — ever termed “signs” in John’s Gospel — were more than sufficient to prove Him to be the Messiah unto those who were open-minded; but yet they were not such as to make it possible for the prejudiced to refuse their assent. This is ever God’s way of dealing with moral agents. There are innumerable tokens for the existence of a Divine Creator, sufficient to render all men “without excuse”; yet are these tokens of such a nature as not to have banished atheism from the earth. There are a thousand evidences that the Holy Scriptures are the inspired Word of God, yet are there multitudes who believe them not. There is a great host of unimpeachable witnesses who testify daily to the Saviourhood of the Lord Jesus, yet the great majority of men continue in their sins.
Before we pass from this verse a word should be said upon the turpitude of these Jews. “How. long dost thou make us to doubt?” was inexcusable wickedness. They were seeking to transfer to Him the onus of their unbelief. They argued that He was responsible for their unreasonable and God-dishonoring doubting. This is ever the way with the unregenerate.
When God arraigned Adam, the guilty culprit answered, “The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat” ( Genesis 3:12). So it is today. Instead of tracing the cause of unbelief to his own evil heart, the sinner blames God for the insufficiency of convincing evidence. “Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believed not: the works that I do in my Father’s name, they bear witness of me” ( John 10:25).
The Lord had told them that He was “the Son of man,” and that as such the Father had “given him authority to execute judgment” ( John 5:27).
He had told them that He was the One of whom Moses wrote ( John 5:46). He had told them that He was the “living bread” which had come down from heaven ( John 6:51). He had told them that Abraham had rejoiced to see His day ( John 8:56). All of these were statements which intimated plainly that He was the promised One of the Old Testament Scriptures.
In addition to what He had taught concerning His own person, His “works” bore conclusive witness to His Messianic office. His “works” were an essential part of His credentials, as is clear from Luke 7:19-23: “And John calling unto him two of his disciples sent them to Jesus, saying, Art thou he that should come? or look we for another?...
Jesus answering said unto them, Go your way, and tell John what things ye have seen and heard; how that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, to the poor the gospel is preached. And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me.”
These were the precise verifications as to what was to take place when the Messiah appeared — compare Isaiah 35:5,6. “But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you” ( John 10:26).
Unspeakably solemn was this word. They were reprobates, and now that their characters were fully manifested the Lord did not hesitate to tell them so. The force of this awful statement is definite and clear, though men in their unbelief have done their best to befog it. Almost all the commentators have expounded this verse as though its clauses had been reversed. They simply make Christ to say here to these Jews that they were unbelievers.
But the truth is that the Lord said far more than that. The commentators understand “the sheep” to be nothing more than a synonym for born-again and justified persons, whereas in fact it is equivalent to God’s elect, as the sixteenth verse of this chapter clearly shows. The Lord did not say “Because ye are not of my sheep ye believe not,” but, “Ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep.” Man always turns the things of God upside down. When he comes to something in the Word which is peculiarly distasteful, instead of meekly submitting to it and receiving it in simple faith because God says it, he resorts to every imaginable device to make it mean something else. Here Christ is not only charging these Jews with unbelief, but He also explains why faith had not been granted to them — they were not “of his sheep”: they were not among the favored number of God’s elect. If further proof be required for the correctness of this interpretation, it is furnished below. A man does not have to believe to become one of Christ’s “sheep”: he “believes” because he is one of His sheep. “But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you .”
To what is our Lord referring? When had He previously avowed that these Jews were not of God’s elect? When had He formerly classed them among the reprobates? The answer is to be found in chapter eight of this same Gospel. There we find this same company — “the Jews” (see verse 48) — antagonizing Him, and to them He says, “Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word” (verse 43). This is strictly parallel with “ye believe not” in John 10:26. Then, in John 8, He explains why they could not “hear his word” — it was because they were “of their father the devil” (verse 44). Again, in the forty-seventh verse of the same chapter He said to the Jews, “He that is of God heareth God’s words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God.” Strictly parallel is this with John 10:26. They “heard not” because they were not of God: they “believed not” because they were not of His sheep. In each instance He gives as the reason why they received Him not the solemn fact that they belonged not to God’s elect: they were numbered among the reprobates. “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” ( John 10:27).
Here the Lord contrasts the elect from the non-elect. God’s elect hear the voice of the Son: they hear the voice of the Shepherd because they belong to His sheep: they “hear” because a sovereign God imparts to them the capacity to hear, for “The hearing ear and the seeing eye, the Lord hath made even both of them” ( Proverbs 20:12). Each of the sheep “hear” when the irresistible call comes to them, just as Lazarus in the grave heard when Christ called him. “And I know them, and they follow me” ( John 10:27).
Each of the sheep are known to Christ by a special knowledge, a knowledge of approbation. They are valued by Him because entrusted to Him by the Father. As the Father’s love gift, He prizes them highly. The vast crowd of the nonelect He “never knew” ( Matthew 7:23) with a knowledge of approbation; but each of the elect are known affectionately, personally, eternally. “And they follow me.” They “follow” the example He has left them; they follow in holy obedience to His commandments; they follow from love, attracted by His excellent person; they follow on to know Him better. “And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of my hand” ( John 10:28).
The connection between this and what has gone before should not be lost sight of. Christ had been speaking about His approaching death, His laying down His life for the sheep (verse 15, etc.). Would this, then, imperil the sheep? No, the very reverse. He would lay down His life in order that it might be imparted to them. This “life,” Divine and eternal, would be given to them, not sold or bartered. Eternal life is neither earned as a wage, merited as a prize, nor won as a crown. It is a free gift, sovereignly bestowed. But, says the carping objector, All this may be true, but there are certain conditions which must be fulfilled if this valuable gift is to be retained, and if these conditions are not complied with the gift will be forfeited, and the one who receives it will be lost. To meet this legalistic skepticism, the Lord added, “and they shall never perish.” Not only is the life given “eternal,” but the ones on whom this precious gift is bestowed shall never perish: backslide they may, “perish” they shall not, and cannot, while the Shepherd lives! Hypocrites and false professors make shipwreck of the faith (not their faith, for they never had any), but no real saint of God did or will. There are numerous cases recorded in Scripture where individuals backslided, but never one of a real saint apostatizing. A believer may fall, but he shall not be utterly cast down ( Psalm 37:24). Quite impossible is it for a sheep to become a goat, for a man who has been born again to be unborn . “Neither shall any man (any one) pluck them out of my hand.” Here the Lord anticipates another objection, for the fertile mind of unbelief has rarely evidenced more ingenuity than it has at this point, in opposing the blessed truth of the eternal security of God’s children. When the objector has been forced to acknowledge that this passage teaches that the life given to the sheep is “eternal,” and that those who receive it shall “never perish,” he will next make shift by replying, True, no believer will destroy himself, but what of his many enemies, what of Satan, ever going about as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour? Suppose a believer falls into the toils of the Devil, what then? This, assures our Lord, is equally impossible. The believer is in the hand of Christ, and none is able to pluck from thence one of His own. Tease and annoy him the Devil may, but seize the believer he cannot. Blessed, comforting, re-assuring truth is this! Weak and helpless in himself, nevertheless, the sheep is secure in the hand of the Shepherd. “My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all: and none is able to pluck them out of my Father’s band” ( John 10:29).
Here the Lord anticipates one more objection. He knew full well that there would be some carping quibblers who would be foolish enough to say, True, the Devil is unable to pluck us from the hand of Christ, but we are still “free agents,” and therefore could jump out if we chose to do so.
Christ now bars out this miserable perversion. He shows us how that it is impossible for a sheep to perish even if it desired to — as though one ever did! The “hand of Christ” (verse 28) is beneath us, and the “hand” of the Father is above us. Thus are we secured between the clasped hands of Omnipotence!
No stronger passage in all the Word of God can be found guaranteeing the absolute security of every child of God. Note the seven strands in the rope which binds them to God. First, they are Christ’s sheep, and it is the duty of the shepherd to care for each of his flock! To suggest that any of Christ’s sheep may be lost is to blaspheme the Shepherd Himself. Second, it is said “They follow” Christ, and no exceptions are made; the Lord does not say they ought to, but declares they do. If then the sheep “follow” Christ they must reach Heaven, for that is where the Shepherd is gone!
Third, to the sheep is imparted “eternal life”: to speak of eternal life ending is a contradiction in terms. Fourth, this eternal life is “given” to them: they did nothing to merit it, consequently they can do nothing to demerit it.
Fifth, the Lord Himself declares that His sheep “shall never perish,” consequently the man who declares that it is possible for a child of God to go to Hell makes God a liar. Sixth, from the Shepherd’s “hand” none is able to pluck them, hence the Devil is unable to encompass the destruction of a single one of them. Seventh, above them is the Father’s “hand,” hence it is impossible for them to jump out of the hand of Christ even if they tried to. It has been well said that if one soul who trusted in Christ should be missing in Heaven, there would be one vacant seat there, one crown unused, one harp unstrung; and this would grieve all Heaven and proclaim a disappointed God. But such a thing is utterly impossible. “I and my Father are one” ( John 10:30).
The R.V. correctly renders this verse, “I and the Father are one.” The difference between these two translations is an important one. Wherever the Lord Jesus says, my rather, He is speaking as the Mediator , but whenever He refers to “the Father,” He speaks from the standpoint of His absolute Deity. Thus, “my Father is greater than I” ( John 14:28) contemplates Him in the position of inferiority. “I and the Father are one” affirms Their unity of nature or essence, one in every Divine perfection. “I and the Father are one.” There are those who would limit this oneness between the Father and Son to unity of will and design — the Unitarian interpretation of the passage. Dr. John Brown has refuted the error of this so ably and simply that we transcribe from his exposition: “Harmony of will and design, is not the thing spoken of here; but harmony or union of power and operation. Our Lord first says of Himself, ‘I give unto my sheep eternal life, and none shall pluck them out of my hand.’ He then says the same thing of the Father — ‘None is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.’ He plainly, then, ascribes the same thing to Himself that He does to the Father, not the same will, but the same work — the same work of power, therefore the same Power. He mentions the reason why none can pluck them out of the Father’s hands, — because He is the Almighty, and no created Power is able to resist Him. The thing spoken of is power , — Power irresistible . And in order to prove that none can pluck them out of HIS hand, He adds, ‘I and the Father are one.’ One in what? unquestionably in the work of power whereby He protects His sheep and does not suffer them to be plucked out of His hand. What the Father is, that the Son is. What the work of the Father is, that the work of the Son is.
As the Father is almighty, so is the Son likewise. As nothing can resist the Father, so nothing can resist the Son. Whatsoever the Father hath, the Son hath likewise. The Father is in the Son, and the Son in the Father. These two are one — in nature, perfection and glory.” “I and the Father are one.” It is most blessed to observe the connection between this declaration and what had preceded it. All the diligent care and tender devotion of the Shepherd for the sheep but expresses the mind and heart of the Owner toward the flock. The Shepherd and the Owner are one, one in their relation and attitude toward the flock; one both in power and in Their loving care for the sheep. Immutably secure then is the believer. It was the laying hold of these precious truths which caused our fathers to sing, How firm a foundation Ye saints of the Lord, Is laid for your faith, In His excellent Word.
What more can He say, Than to you He hath said, To you who to Jesus For refuge have fled. “Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him” ( John 10:31).
This is quite sufficient to settle the meaning of the previous verse. These Jews had no difficulty in perceiving the force of what our Lord had just said to them. They instantly recognized that He had claimed absolute equality with the Father, and to their ears this was blasphemy. Instead of saying anything to correct their error, if error it was, Christ went on to say that which must have confirmed it. “Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him.” Fearful wickedness was this! Who could imagine that any heart would have been so base, or any hand so cruel, as to have armed themselves with instruments of death, against such a Person, while speaking such words! Yet we behold these Jews doing just this thing, and that within the sacred precincts of the Temple! A frightful exhibition of human depravity was this. Christ had done these Jews no wrong. They hated Him without a cause . They hated Him because of His holiness; and this, because of their sinfulness. Why did Cain hate Abel? “Because his own works were evil, and his brother’s righteous” ( 1 John 3:12).
Why did the Jews hate Christ? — “But me it hateth, because I testify of it that the works thereof are evil” ( John 7:7).
And in that measure in which believers are like Christ, in the same proportion will they be hated by unbelievers: “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you” ( John 15:18). “Jesus answered them, Many good works have I showed you from my Father; for which of those works do ye stone me?” ( John 10:32).
The word “works” is to be understood here in its widest sense. The Lord appeals to the whole course of His public ministry — His perfect life, His gracious deeds in ministering to the needs of others, His wondrous words, wherein He spake as never man had spoken. When He terms these works as “from the Father” He means not only that they met with the Father’s full approval, but that they had been done by His authority and command — “I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do” ( John 17:4). “The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God” ( John 10:33).
It was most appropriate for this to be recorded in John’s Gospel, the great design of which is to present the Deity of the Savior. The carnal mind is “enmity against God,” and never was this more fully evidenced than when God incarnate appeared in the midst of men. During His infancy, an organized effort was made to slay Him ( Matthew 2). In one of the Messianic Psalms there is more than a hint that during the years Christ spent in seclusion at Nazareth, repeated attempts were made upon His life — “I am afflicted and ready to die from my youth up ” ( Psalm 88:15.
The very first word spoken by Him in the Nazareth synagogue after His public ministry began, was followed by an attempt to murder Him ( Luke 4:29). And from that point onwards to the Cross, His steps were dogged by implacable foes who thirsted for His blood. Wonderful beyond comprehension was that grace of God which suffered His Son to sojourn in such a world of rebels. Divine was that infinite forbearance which led Christ to endure “the contradiction of sinners against himself.” Deep, fervent, and perpetual should be our praise for that love which saved us at such a cost! “Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods? If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken; Say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God? If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not. But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works: that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me and I in him” ( John 10:34-38).
Upon these verses we cannot do better than quote from the excellent remarks of Dr. John Brown: “Our Lord’s reply consists of two parts. In the first, He shows that the charge of blasphemy, which they founded on His calling Himself the Son of God, was a rash one, even though nothing more could have been said of Him, than that He had been ‘sanctified and sent by the Father’; and secondly, that His miracles were of such a kind, as that they rendered whatever He declared of Himself, as to His intimate connection with the Father, however extraordinary, worthy of credit. “Our Lord’s argument in the first part of this answer is founded on a passage in the Psalm 82:6; ‘I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most high.’ These words are plainly addressed to the Jewish magistrates, commissioned by Jehovah to act as His vicegerents in administering justice to His people: who judged for God — in the room of God; whose sentences, when they agreed with the law, were God’s sentences; whose judgment, was God’s judgment, and rebels against whom, were rebels against God. “The meaning and force of our Lord’s argument is obvious. If, in a book which you admit to be of Divine authority, and all whose expressions are perfectly faultless, men which have received a Divine communication to administer justice to the people of God are called ‘gods’ and sons of the Highest; is it not absurd to bring against One who has a higher commission than they (One who had been sanctified and sent by the Father), and who presented far more evidence of His commission, a charge of blasphemy, because He calls Himself ‘the Son of God’? You dare not charge blasphemy on the Psalmist; — why do you charge it on Me?... He reasoned with the Jews on their own principles. Were the Messiah nothing more than you expect Him to be, to charge One who claims Messiahship with blasphemy, because He calls Himself the Son of God, is plainly gross inconsistency. Your magistrates are called God’s sons, and may not your Messiah claim the same title? “The second part of our Lord’s reply is contained in the thirtyseventh and thirty-eighth verses. It is equivalent to — I have declared that I and the Father are one — one in power and operation. I do not call on you to believe this merely because of My testimony, but I do call on you to believe on My testimony supported by the miracles I have performed, works which nothing but a Divine power could accomplish. These works are the voice of God, and its utterance is distinct: it speaks plainly, it utters no dark saying. You cannot refuse to receive the doctrine that I and the Father are one, that the Father is in Me, and I in Him, without contradicting His testimony and calling Him a liar.”
Let us notice one or two details in these verses before we turn to the conclusion of our chapter. The word “gods” in the eighty-second Psalm, quoted here by Christ, has occasioned difficulty to some. The magistrates of Israel were so called because of their authority and power , and as representing the Divine majesty in government.
Mark how in verse 35 the Savior said, “The scripture cannot be broken.”
What a high honor did He here place upon the written Word! In making use of this verse from the Psalmist against His enemies, the whole point of His argument lay in a single word — “gods” — and the fact that it occurred in the book Divinely inspired. The Scriptures were the final court of appeal, and here the Lord insists on their absolute authority and verbal inerrancy.
Observe here Christ’s use of the word “sanctified” in verse 36 refutes many modem heretics. There are those who teach that to be sanctified is to have the carnal nature eradicated. They insist that sanctification is moral purification. But how thoroughly untenable is such a definition in the light of what the Master says here. He declares that He was “sanctified.”
Certainly that cannot mean that He was cleansed from sin, for He was the Holy One. Here, as everywhere in Scripture, the term sanctified can only mean set apart . Observe the order: Christ was first sanctified and then sent into the world. The reference is to the Father’s eternal appointment of the Son to be the Mediator. “Therefore they sought again to take him: but he escaped out of their hand” ( John 10:39).
This signifies that these Jews sought to apprehend the Lord Jesus so that they might bring Him before the Sanhedrin, but they were unable to carry out their evil designs. Soon He would deliver Himself into their hands, but until the appointed hour arrived they might as well attempt to harness the wind as lay hands on the Almighty. “And went away again beyond Jordan into the place where John at first baptized; and there he abode. And many resorted unto him, and said, John did no miracle: but all things which John spake of this man were true. And many believed on him there” ( John 10:40-42).
We have already pointed out the significance of this move of Christ. In leaving Jerusalem — to which He did not return until the appointed “hour” for His death had arrived — and in going beyond Jordan to where His forerunner had been, the Lord gave plain intimation that His public ministry was now over. The Nation at large must be left to suffer the due reward of their iniquities. In what follows we have a beautiful illustration of this present dispensation: “Outside the camp” Christ now was, but in this place, as the despised and rejected One, many resorted to Him. God would not allow His beloved Son to be universally unappreciated, even though organized Judaism had turned its back upon Him. Here beyond Jordan He works no public miracle (as He does not today), but many believed on Him because of what John had spoken . So it is now. It is the Word which is the means God uses in bringing sinners to believe on the Savior. Happy for these men that they knew the day of their visitation, and improved the brief visit of Christ.
Let the interested student study the following questions on the first part of John 11: — 1. Why did not the sisters name the sick one? verse 3. 2. What is the force of the “therefore”? verse 6. 3. Why did not Christ hasten to Bethany at once? verse 6. 4. Why “into Judea” rather than “to Bethany”? verse 7. 5. Why did Christ refer to the “twelve hours in the day”? verse 9. 6. What is meant by the second half of verse 9? 7. What is meant by “walking in the night’? verse 10.