April 22, 2001
THE JESUS WE SERVE
Robert B. Ives, Ph.D., Pastor
The Grantham Church
I was sitting recently in the living room of a family from this church and we were talking about the Trinity and what proof there was that Jesus is God. This passage in John 10 contains one of those proofs.
Thats such a good question because when we, Gods people, serve Jesus, its important that we have a firm grasp on who Jesus is. In Johns Gospel, from beginning to end there is a struggle. Both Jesus enemies and His friends asked the question that is stated in John 10:24, If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.
In the winter of their discontent, the Jewish leaders have surrounded Jesus in the temple like a pack of dogs intent on their prey and they bark out, How long do you intend to annoy us? (to keep us in suspense - New International Verison) If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly!
Jesus has a brief answer for them in verse 25: I told you and you didnt believe what I said. And then Jesus pointed to His miracles which many of them had seen. His miracles, in 10:21 were the thing that convinced some people He was not mad.
But the chill and wintery winds of unbelief are blowing among these Jews. And as for Jesus, His final hour is coming. Time is running out for Him and He knows it. But Jesus is not fretting and merely waiting for the end to come. Jesus is actively finishing the task the Father had given Him to do.
That task was to make God the Father known. You would think that the Jews, who were very religious people, would be excited by knowing the Father better; but the reception to Jesus was less than enthusiastic. It was puzzled, it was hostile, and it culminated in the death of God.
These Jewish leaders are looking for grounds to accuse Jesus. Their question in verse 24 is not a friendly question. And their response to his answer, in verse 31, is to get ready to stone him. They have the stones in their hands.
Who is this Jesus we serve, this Jesus who stirred up such feelings among his contemporaries?
Jesus reply to people who are hostile to him in verse 25 is: I did tell you who I am. Your problem is that you didnt believe what I said.
Oh, man, does this strike at our hearts!
When did Jesus tell people who He was? There are at least five times before this point in His life where Jesus said such things as, I am the bread of life, (6:35) and they grumbled about it. (verse 41) I am the light of the world, (8:12) and the Pharisees challenged him for making unsupported claims. I am the good shepherd, (10:11) and some thought him mad. (verse 20.)
The counter argument by those who are attracted to Him was, can a demon do the miracles Jesus does? And that is the same argument Jesus uses in verse 25, The miracles I do in my Fathers name speak for me.
Then the conversation takes one of those turns that stymied the Jews. Jesus draws a picture of a shepherd who is calling sheep out of a sheep fold. The sheep have heard the shepherd talk to them day in and day out in the fields of the world and so because they recognize his voice, they follow him. Those people, Jesus says, are the ones He holds in His hand and keeps safe. And the Father, who is greater than all, also holds them. And then Jesus says those striking words of verse 30, I and the Father are one.
Jehovahs Witnesses say, Jesus and the Father are one in purpose, but then Jehovahs Witnesses are Unitarians. Mormons say, Jesus is God like we are all gods. But the Jews in the temple that December know what Jesus is saying, for they pick up stones to stone him for blasphemy. They know Jesus is claiming to be God.
Jesus sees the stones and feels the tenseness of the situation. These Jews are not pacifists. And Jesus repeats His comment, for which of my miracles do you stone me? See, the point is that the miracles Jesus did were the kinds of acts that the Old Testament says only God can do. Jesus miracles are one primary proof of who He is. Only God could do the miracles Jesus did. If the Jews really understood that, they would conclude, well, yes, only God can heal blind people.
But what they said was, We are going to stone you because you, a (mere) man claim to be God. (Text: make yourself God.) Oh, they understood all right.
The Jesus we serve claimed to be God. There are only a few times in the Gospels when Jesus is called God. Here is one. And because He claimed this, they try to seize Him in verse 39. But in verse 42, others believe in him exactly because they understand what He is saying.
Another clear passage about Jesus being God is in John chapter 20, when Jesus appears to the empiricist, Thomas, who is not going to believe without evidence. Jesus gives him that evidence and Thomas responds to the evidence by saying, My Lord and my God.
Heady stuff, but this is the Jesus we serve.
If Jesus is indeed God who cannot be misled, fooled, or trifled with, then arent you ready to commit yourself anew to serve Him? One reason we are meeting together today is so we can affirm together that Jesus, who is God, is the One we, in our various settings, have deliberately chosen to serve.