Are You the Messiah, Or Not?
With what seemed like a frank and authentic question, representatives of the religious authority had come to Jesus and asked him to once and for all plainly state whether or not he was the long-awaited Messiah.
But on second pass, it was not a simple question. The Messiah they thought would come, from the way they had read and interpreted the prophets, did not match the Christ Jesus was. Jesus was not their Messiah. However, Jesus was God’s Messiah, the Son of God, and God the Son, the one who came not to judge but to restore, and yet because he was the Light of the World, his revelation had within it the characteristic of exposure.
It is the nature of light to reveal and to expose, to lay bare what was hidden, for good or ill. As the Psalmist had sung centuries before,
In the heavens he has set a tent for the sun,Psalm 19:5-6
which comes out like a bridegroom from his wedding canopy,
and like a strong man runs its course with joy.
Its rising is from the end of the heavens,
and its circuit to the end of them;
and nothing is hid from its heat.
As Jesus spoke, the men before him must have looked unsatisfied and perturbed. Jesus was giving them no new answers, his words still seemed cloaked in metaphor and veiled meanings. To be told they were not of Jesus’ sheepfold seemed at the same time ambiguous and obvious. No, they did not believe Jesus, and no, he had no jurisdiction over them.
As a matter of fact, Jesus was properly in their sheepfold, a difficult ram who refused to be subdued or contained.
Now, finally, Jesus gave them the plain answer they had requested of him.
I and the Father are one.Jesus to the religious authorities, John 10:30
Had Jesus purposely used the language of the Shema?
It is so called because shema is the first word—hear—in what is considered by many in the Jewish faith as the most important prayer of all prayers.
Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord alone.Deuteronomy 6:4 (NRSV)
Or, as the NRSV footnote explains,
- The Lord our God is one Lord. or
- The Lord our God, the Lord is one. or
- The Lord is our God, the Lord is one.
According to the first century Jewish historian Josephus, it was already an ancient practice for those of Jewish faith to place tiny scrolls containing the first two paragraphs of Deuteronomy 6 in small capsules called mezuzahs and affix them to their doorposts. In this way, in their going out and coming in, they would be reminded of the Shema (remember that phrase?).
The Shema spoke of one God, as opposed to the many gods worshiped by all other cultures and people groups, and reminded them of the covenant the one true and almighty God had made with them, God’s chosen and beloved people.
The way Jesus said it, the words he had chosen to use, but most importantly, the implication he had now made completely plain, prompted these learned and dignified theologians, scholars, scribes, and teachers of the law to immediately find and pick up stones in preparation to stone Jesus.
Jesus asked them why? Which good work from the Father were they going to stone him for?
We are not stoning you concerning a good work, but rather concerning blasphemy, and because you who are a human being make yourself God.Religious authorities to Jesus, John 10:33
Let that sink in.
I have heard people lament—complain—that Jesus never out and out said he was God. But he did. And everyone who heard him knew it.
I think their mouths must have fallen open and gotten dry, just hanging there, at what Jesus said next.
Jesus asked the men arrayed before him that if they were willing to call the protectors of the law of God “gods,” then how could they refuse to recognize the one who was far greater? Let us break it down step by step. (Taken from John 10:34-38)
- Is it not written in your law that “I declare: you are gods.”?
Jesus was quoting from Psalm 82:6 in reference to the judges, leaders, and rulers who had been divinely appointed to lead in God’s cause among God’s people. This was a well-accepted, well-attested scripture, along with its interpretation.
- If to those the word (Logos) of God came said “gods”—and the writing is not able to be broken—
- [then of] one the Father made holy and sent into the world (cosmos), you all say that [it is] blasphemy, that I said, “I Am God’s Son”?
In other words, God appointed rulers of old to do God’s holy work. These leaders were anointed, sanctified, made holy unto the Lord, to do the works of God, and God called them “gods,” a word that fit the role in their ancient time.
But now, Jesus had come, one who had been made holy, anointed by the Holy Spirit, sanctified and sent into the physical world in order to do the works of the Father and to accomplish God’s purposes of salvation and restoration. How could he now be stoned for saying he was God’s Son?
Their assessment was unscriptural and they were the theologians and biblical scholars!
Testimony of the Works
- If I am not doing the works of my Father, do not believe me,
- But if I am doing, and you all do not believe me, believe the works, in order that you all would recognize and perceive, and know and understand that in me [is] the Father, likewise I [am] in the Father
Testimony of the Scriptures
Jesus is the true “Son of God.” When Jesus said that the “writing cannot be broken,” he was appealing to the authority of God’s word, the “law.” The leadership of the nation should have recognized the authority of God’s word, its message, and that it pointed to Jesus.
Jesus knew the scriptures and could teach from them whenever needed.
That is an encouragement for you and me today to take his example, know God’s word and to live by it.
Fingers curled all the more tightly around their stones, arms tensed, shoulders hunched, and jaws ground their teeth in fury. This obstinate and arrogant street preacher took the scriptures and worked them to his own favor, purposely choosing the most incendiary passages and insolently inserting himself within them. How dare he desecrate the Holy Name of Almighty God by attaching his own to the ineffable! How dare he take from the Law and apply it to his own blasphemous ends!
Some threw their rocks near Jesus then siezed hold of him, his arm, his hair, his robe. But with an adroitness that mystified, Jesus seemed again and again to escape their grasp, and as his disciples and followers drew around him, he maddeningly slipped away. They hurled shouted epithets, grim warnings of God’s judgment on those who used God’s name in vain,
“The one who blasphemes the name of the Lord shall be put to death,” Shrieked a teacher of the law, his voice hoarse and shrill. “The whole congregation shall stone the blasphemer.” Some among them threw their stones at the receding backs of those who continued to hide Jesus from their view.
“Aliens as well as citizens,” took up another, now screaming at the quickly growing crowd, drawn by the commotion. He clutched the neck of his robe and tore it, while others with him flung their arms wildly about. “When they blaspheme the Name,” he shouted, and here many looked up to heaven, and closed their eyes with great piety, even in their violent emotion, “shall be put to death.” (Leviticus 24:16)
After this Jesus went back to where his ministry had begun in the days of John the Baptist. Many people had been weighing what John the Baptist had said about Jesus. Even though the Baptist had not performed any miracles, they realized that what he had taught about Jesus was true, and they put their faith in the Lord.
[Mezuzah | BRBurton23 (pixabay.com)]