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Wednesday, September 23, 2015

He called them gods

34 Jesus answered them, "Has it not been written in your Law, 'I SAID, YOU ARE GODS '?
35 "If he called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken ),
36 do you say of Him, whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, 'You are blaspheming,' because I said, 'I am the Son of God '? (John 10)


the objective of Jesus


Jesus, in the gospel according to John, reiterated these words from Psalm 82 to the Jews who took offence at him. They were ready to stone him, as they said, not for doing a good work, but for blasphemy. This was the blasphemy, as the Jews saw it, for which they were ready to stone Jesus because You, being a man, make yourself out to be God. Jesus knew quite well why they wanted to stone him when he posed the question to them I showed you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you stoning Me?


The dialog into which Jesus drew them was in order for them to articulate what they did not understand about the scriptures (and the scripture cannot be broken) but which they could see plainly with their own eyes. This is an understatement about the unbroken unity of the scripture as the revelation of the word of God. Here is a clip from my blog article:

what God sought to impress on Israel

God sought to impress something on Israel for all time when He spoke through his servant Moses in Deuteronomy 6:4,5; the Shema. There are various words and phrases which appear before and after the Shema. Here are a few of those words and phrases:

the commandment, the statutes and the judgments . . . to teach . . . to keep . . . you should listen . . . Hear, oh Israel . . . These words . . . talk of them . . . bind as a sign . . . You shall write them . . .

All of these words and phrases are about the words God was saying to Moses in that moment. Since Deuteronomy is a second telling of the law to Israel those words and phrases are as much about what God had said (past) already. These were things which Israel was to learn and keep as of that day. (present) Israel was to teach these things to their children going forward. (future) Their children were to learn, keep and teach these things to impress to their children; generation after generation.

This is what Israel was to understand from that moment going forward. Israel was to understand that the revelation of the will of God was one in unity and harmony as is God. Israel was to understand that 1) everything that God said was to be obeyed, 2) everything that Moses said that God said was to be obeyed, 3) everything that the prophets said God said was to be obeyed, 4) everything that Jesus said was from the Father said was to be obeyed, 5) everything that the apostles said was from the Holy Spirit was to be obeyed, and 6) everything that the saints in Christ read from the written word as what God said was to be obeyed. There is no variation. There is no discrepancy. What God said is no less the authoritative commandment of God after he spoke it, when it was repeated, before it was written, after it was written, before it was printed, after it was printed and when the reading of his commandments is heard by listeners. The saints in Christ are living in a time when many among them, as in the days of ancient Israel, so desperately and frantically seek after something, surely, anything that is flashier than words.

There is complete, total harmony and oneness from beginning to end from God himself, from Moses, from the prophets, from Jesus, from the apostles and the saints. This is the unity, oneness, true nature, characteristic and description of God who is one; not a quantitative, numeric value; as is his word so too is the Father, with the Son, with the Holy Spirit. 

Jesus accomplished his objective when the Jews articulated their response to these words of Jesus: I and the Father are one. (John 10:30) Specifically and technically as the text reads in English, (rest easy. we’re not going Greek) these four expressions in order, 1) I and the Father are one, 2) You . . . yourself out to be God, 3) You are gods, and 4) I am the Son of God spoken between the Jews and Jesus equate to and amount to the same thing. This is the clarification which Jesus reveals openly even if they no more understand him than they understand the scriptures.


the Word that came


These words from the psalmist were taken by Jesus to respond to that situation in which the Jews were ready to stone him. The application of these words was, on the surface, simple enough: if God called "gods" those (men and women) to whom the word of God came why are you (the Jews) so upset because I (Jesus) say, I am the Son of God? Unlike those to whom the word of God came, the word did not come to Jesus: He was the Word that came into the world that was with God and is God. (John 1) Ironically, the psalmist's words have come to be taken by some as a back paddling, denial or diminishing by Jesus himself of any semblance of self-claims of his deity as well as any mistaken claims concerning the deity of Jesus by his followers. Ostensibly, and perhaps arguably and for the sake of discussion, one could conclude that, 1) Jesus had misspoken some things about himself, or 2) that the Jews had misunderstood him. However, after stirring their minds concerning the scriptures and the meaning of what they read in those scriptures what follows in the passage debunks both of these conclusions.


The works


The fact is that the Jews had failed to understand the scripture. Jesus did not expound the theology of the text, but he held firmly to his assertion. What he did urge and direct them to examine for significance and understanding was the works which they had seen Jesus perform before their own eyes. These works were just as powerful as the scripture and capable of bringing them to faith in Jesus. The works were what the Father had given him to perform in order that they might believe in the one whom the Father had sent.


the prophet


There is another instance which serves as an example in which the Jews' revealed their misunderstanding of the scriptures. It was concerning what they had likely been taught by the scribes about the prophet (Deuteronomy 18) mentioned by Moses. The popular belief and expectation of that prophecy by Moses was reflected by the Jews. (John 6:14) They expected an individual who would fulfill that prophecy. This mistaken interpretation is just as common among Christians today. However, in the only two instances in which the Deuteronomy 18 reference to the prophet is found in the New Testament it is cited by Peter and Stephen in Acts 3 & 7 respectively. The references to the prophet in both passages are encompassed by Peter and Stephen's messages with_ the prophets. Note the specific use of the plural form. The Deuteronomy 18 passage on the prophet was a prophecy concerning the succession of servants of God; the prophets, whom God would raise up from among Israel’s brethren to send to Israel. They were to heed and obey these prophets as messengers of God as much as they heeded the words which Moses was given by God.


There is something interesting in Peter's response to Jesus in Matthew 16 as to the people's view concerning the identity of Jesus. Peter did not include the prophet of Deuteronomy 18 in that popular survey concerning the people's understanding of the identity of Jesus. Conversely, Jesus did not correct the Samaritan woman in John 4 when she stated that she perceived he was a prophet. However, Jesus was aware of that popular perception of himself as a prophet and he was quite willing to be cast along with the prophets who suffered, were despised and rejected, and without honor except in their own hometown.


what Jesus said, might have said, should have said, and what he did not say


There is much in our view of scripture, but so much of it centers on what Jesus might have or should have said and what he did not say. The problem with these approaches is that they reflect a test of God where not only do we presume to tell God to jump when we say jump in order for him to prove that he is mighty and that he is God or to tell him how high we want him to jump in order for us to believe beyond all doubt. This is the similar approach to the words, he called them gods.


There is the cry (it's hardly an argument) that Jesus DID NOT say he was God. He didn't jump when he could have and should have jumped if he really intended to prove to the Jews that he was indeed God. This is a play on the single word god with the intent to dilute and generalize it as conveying anything meaningful about the deity of Jesus. Yet, does anyone who plays that single word in that manner do likewise with the word lord? After all, it’s use is widespread in the Old Testament. Would anyone conclude therefore that the lord is not god? (caps being of no significance) If the word god was applied, as Jesus noted, to mortals to whom the word of God came would anyone conclude that there is no God, just mere mortal men and nothing more? These are rhetorical questions, but the reality is that the answers are often speculative questions themselves seemingly to create the impression that the questioner, especially when there are no responses to his questions, must certainly be right and definitely understands the subject in discussion.


conclusion


What Jesus responded to the Jews when he quoted the psalmist was neither a denial of his deity nor a diminishing of his deity so as to calm down the enraged Jews. Today, some saints in Christ, like the Jews, struggle to understand both the works and words of Jesus and the scriptures. The only time that Jesus denied an accusation and responded to it immediately was when the Jews accused him of having a demon (John 8:49) and of doing works by the power of Satan. (Matthew 12:22-29) The Jewish misunderstanding of the scriptures which cannot be broken was indeed severed when it became a muddle of disjointed, piecemeal words of God without the unity that is the God who is one. We, the saints in Christ, have every opportunity to accept the challenge of the Spirit when we go to the scriptures for our understanding, edification and teaching.

Peace to the saints in Christ Jesus, the Son of God, our Lord and Savior.

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