We Are Gods

At that time the Feast of Dedication took place at Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the colonnade of Solomon. So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.” Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness about me, but you do not believe because you are not among my sheep. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”

The Jews picked up stones again to stone him. Jesus answered them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you going to stone me?” 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.” Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I said, you are gods’? If he called them gods to whom the word of God came—and Scripture cannot be broken— 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’? If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me; 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.” Again they sought to arrest him, but he escaped from their hands. John 10:22-39.

Jesus was accused of blasphemy because He claimed to be the Son of God. But what makes one a Son of God? Jesus quotes the Psalms, which say, “You are gods, sons of the Most High, all of you;
nevertheless, like men you shall die, and fall like any prince.” (Psalm 82:6). Men, destined to die, are called gods. It is not the only time that men occupy this dual identity. In Luke 3:38, in the genealogy of Jesus, Adam is identified as the son of God. And it is a New Testament staple that those who believe in Jesus are called sons of God.

The Pharisees did not dare call themselves sons of God. They said they were sons of Abraham. They kept their God at arm’s length. They chose a lower standard. So Jesus had corrected them when He told them they were actually children of the devil, who is the father of lies. We are the children of the one we follow.

It is popular to say that all human beings are God’s children, but this is not true. All humans are made in God’s image, but not all humans have God’s nature. Peter wrote to us this: “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.” (2 Peter 1:3-4). Only those who believe God’s word and apply it to their lives are gods among men.

Who Jesus Is

“Truly, truly, I tell you, whoever does not enter the sheepfold by the gate, but climbs in some other way, is a thief and a robber. But the one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen for his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.

When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will flee from him because they do not recognize his voice.”

Jesus spoke to them using this illustration, but they did not understand what He was telling them. So He said to them again, “Truly, truly, I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before Me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate. If anyone enters through Me, he will be saved. He will come in and go out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I have come that they may have life, and have it in all its fullness.

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. The hired hand is not the shepherd, and the sheep are not his own. When he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf pounces on them and scatters the flock. The man runs away because he is a hired servant and is unconcerned for the sheep.

I am the good shepherd. I know My sheep and My sheep know Me, just as the Father knows Me and I know the Father. And I lay down My life for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them in as well, and they will listen to My voice. Then there will be one flock and one shepherd.

The reason the Father loves Me is that I lay down My life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of My own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from My Father.” John 10:1-18.

This is probably Jesus’s most important parable, because it explains who He is and what He will do, and how we should live. And we know this because He takes the time to explain it. He describes Himself as the good shepherd, who knows His sheep by name, who is trusted and followed by them, who is the exclusive way to life, and who stands up to the predations of the beasts who threaten the flock. He is not only willing to lay down His life for the flock; He can take it back up again. That is some kind of shepherd!

This metaphor of the good shepherd would resonate with the Jews in a powerful way. They still revered David, the shepherd who became king; the shepherd who stood up to and defeated Goliath, while the rest of the army cowered. As a shepherd, he had fought a lion and a bear to save his flock. So God had him anointed to be king over all other contestants. David, the good shepherd, became king, and Jesus would be called “Son of David” by the cheering crowd.

Most Americans bristle at being referred to as, “sheep.” It infers that they are mindless followers. And yet most of us, without knowing it, actually are. We are easily lead by the thieves and robbers of our corrupt institutions. But this is what must separate us from them: we follow Christ INSTEAD OF THEM, not in addition to them. Yes, this will make you different. It will also bring you to a different destiny.

The Blind Witness

When Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, He found the man and said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”

“Who is He, Sir?” he replied. “Tell me so that I may believe in Him.”

“You have already seen Him,” Jesus answered. “He is the One speaking with you.”

“Lord, I believe,” he said. And he worshiped Jesus.

Then Jesus declared, “For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind may see and those who see may become blind.”

Some of the Pharisees who were with Him heard this, and they asked Him, “Are we blind too?”

“If you were blind,” Jesus replied, “you would not be guilty of sin. But since you claim you can see, your guilt remains.” John 9:35-41.

To recap what has happened to this man, he was born blind. Jesus’s disciples see him and ask Jesus whose sin caused the blindness. Jesus says he was born blind that God would be glorified, and He healed him. This happened to be on the Sabbath, so the Pharisees got involved. After much questioning, the man ends up arguing that whoever healed him must come from God, and he gets thrown out of the synagogue. Here Jesus finds him.

Although no one’s sin caused this blindness, Jesus shows us that blindness is a metaphor for sin. Jesus came to heal the blind (forgive the sinner) and make the seeing blind (reveal the sinfulness of the self-righteous). When the Pharisees ask if He is calling them blind, He says that because they claim to see (to be righteous), they are blind (sinners). He actually says that their guilt remains.

This blind man was a more reliable witness to who Jesus was than the Bible scholars who were supposed to know. Back in the synagogue, when the Pharisees were grilling him, all he could say was, “Whether He is a sinner I do not know. There is one thing I do know: I was blind, but now I see!” (John 9:25). Case closed.

Jesus’s Preexisting Condition

The Jews answered him, “Are we not right in saying that you are a Samaritan and have a demon?” Jesus answered, “I do not have a demon, but I honor my Father, and you dishonor me. Yet I do not seek my own glory; there is One who seeks it, and he is the judge. Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death.” The Jews said to him, “Now we know that you have a demon! Abraham died, as did the prophets, yet you say, ‘If anyone keeps my word, he will never taste death.’ Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? And the prophets died! Who do you make yourself out to be?” Jesus answered, “If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say, ‘He is our God.’ But you have not known him. I know him. If I were to say that I do not know him, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and I keep his word. Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.” So the Jews said to him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?” Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple. John 8:48-59.

Jesus does not want to come right out and say, “I am the physical manifestation of your God, Jehovah.” To do so will bring things to a head too quickly. So He gives them clues when they keep asking who he is. When He finally says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am,” He has said enough to provoke an execution by stoning, and He has to get out of there. Identifying Himself with “I Am” places Him not only with Abraham, but with Moses at the burning Bush.

In the beginning of the Gospel of John, we are quite explicitly told that in the beginning was the Word, and that the Word was WITH God and WAS God. And we are told that the Word was made flesh. This is Jesus. This is our God. As the Word, He had been communicating with His people for generations. But to fulfill His mission to redeem mankind, He had to become a man. He had to have a body, so Mary was chosen to birth Him into the world. And for God to be the Father, He would have to come to inhabit her supernaturally. And her lineage helped Him fulfill His role as God’s high priest. Mary was a descendant of the priestly family of Levi.

Jesus’s Preexisting condition as the great I Am qualifies Him as worthy to take away the sin of the entire world. We never have to wonder if His sacrifice was sufficient. Nor do we speculate about there being other ways besides Jesus. There is no substitute for God Himself taking your punishment so you can reign with Him in Heaven.

Who’s Your Daddy?

So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” They answered him, “We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, ‘You will become free’?”

Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. I know that you are offspring of Abraham; yet you seek to kill me because my word finds no place in you. I speak of what I have seen with my Father, and you do what you have heard from your father.”

They answered him, “Abraham is our father.” Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would be doing the works Abraham did, but now you seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. This is not what Abraham did. You are doing the works your father did.” They said to him, “We were not born of sexual immorality. We have one Father—even God.” Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me. Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me. Which one of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me? Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.” John 8:31-47.

This is a sobering reminder that not everyone who starts out following Jesus remains. Here, Jesus was talking to people who HAD followed Him. Yet, they had already begun to turn on Him. They may have become disenchanted because they hoped He would be an earthly king who would restore Israel back to its former glory. Jesus actively dodged temporal power, pointing instead to a kingdom in the heavenly realm. For them, a gospel that only saved them from sin but not the Romans was a disappointment. More than that, it was a betrayal of their hope for freedom.

Jesus preached a transcendent freedom that you could possess even under a tyrannical regime. After all, what good is your earthly freedom if you are still a slave to sin? And what good is it to be Abraham’s physical descendants if your spiritual father is the devil? I am not making this up. It is right there in the text, coming out of the mouth of Jesus.

What is the freedom for which you are fighting? Is it manifested by a time of patriotism and prosperity and sinning discreetly? Or is it a social justice paradise where everyone has the same portion of the pie, and has the same thoughts? Both of those can be had without Jesus. That makes them traitors to the Son of God and children of the devil.