Where the world comes to study the Bible

Lesson 58: Reasons To Believe (John 10:30-42)

Related Media

June 8, 2014

Sometimes we think that if we could have been on earth to have seen and heard Jesus when He lived, our faith would be stronger. Maybe, but maybe not! John shows us that some who saw Jesus’ miracles and heard Him teach still wanted to kill Him (and finally succeeded), while some others believed. Both groups saw the same evidence, but they went in totally opposite directions. A positive response to Jesus depends on more than solid evidence. It also requires a heart that the Spirit of God has opened to the truth (Acts 16:14). And so as we come to the Bible, our prayer should always be, “Lord, open my heart to Your truth!”

This is the end of Jesus’ public ministry in John’s Gospel. Opposition has been mounting since chapter 5, when He healed the man by the Pool of Bethesda on the Sabbath. The Jews wanted to kill Jesus then because (5:18), “He not only was breaking the Sabbath, but also was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God.” Now, they pick up stones to stone Him (10:33), “because You, being a man, make Yourself out to be God.” But because Jesus’ time had not yet come, He leaves them and returns to the place beyond the Jordan where John the Baptist had baptized both Jesus and many others (10:40). There, in contrast to the hostility in Jerusalem, Jesus saw many believe in Him.

In our text, John is repeating some of the reasons to believe in Jesus that we have already seen (see 5:31-47). Keeping in mind his overall aim for writing (20:31), “so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name,” John here shows:

Jesus’ words, His works, His person, John the Baptist’s testimony, and the Scriptures all show Him to be God.

Everything in the Christian faith depends on the correct answer to Jesus’ question (Matt. 16:15), “Who do you say that I am?” John hammers on that issue from every angle. If Jesus is not the eternal Word made flesh, who gave Himself on the cross for our sins, then there is no basis for Christianity. But if Jesus is who John proclaims Him to be, then you must submit your life to Him, no matter what hardships that may entail. There are five lines of evidence here:

1. Jesus’ Words Show Him To Be God (10:30, 34-36).

In 10:30, Jesus states, “I and the Father are one.” “One” is neuter in Greek, not masculine, indicating that Jesus and His Father are not one person, but are one in essence. John 1:1 showed us that Jesus is fully God and yet distinct from the Father: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Jesus could not be “with God” if He were the same person as the Father, and yet He “was God.” John consistently shows this throughout his Gospel. Jesus repeatedly claims to have been sent to earth by the Father, which indicates a distinction of persons. Also, He prays to the Father, which would be pointless if He and the Father were the same person. Yet Jesus is God.

You need to be clear on this because there are a couple of churches in Flagstaff that deny the trinity, while still purporting to preach the gospel. One states in their beliefs ( “Everyone has sinned and needs salvation. Salvation comes by grace through faith based on the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ.” No problem there! But regarding God they state: “There is one God, who has revealed Himself as our Father, in His Son Jesus Christ, and as the Holy Spirit. Jesus Christ is God manifested in flesh. He is both God and man.” Again, the last part of that statement is true: Jesus Christ is God manifested in the flesh, both God and man. But the problem is, God has not just “revealed Himself” as the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. That is the ancient heresy called Modalism (also called “Monarchianism” and “Sabellianism”). Rather, God exists eternally as one God in three distinct persons, each of whom is fully God (see Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology [Zondervan], pp. 226-261). Jesus’ statement that He and the Father are one does not mean that they are one person.

Some say that Jesus’ statement here only means that He is united with the Father in their purpose and actions of keeping the sheep from the enemy. But, Jesus’ claim that He gives eternal life to His sheep (10:28) and His claim to be able to keep them from all predators unto eternity are claims to deity. Also, the Jews clearly understood Jesus to be making the claim to be God. They state as their reason for attempting to stone Jesus (10:33), “because You, being a man, make Yourself out to be God.” They got it backwards, didn’t they? The truth is, Jesus, being God, became a man, not vice versa. But at least they understood His claim to be God.

Back in chapter 5, when the Jews accused Jesus of making Himself equal with God, He did not tear His garments in horror and cry, “God forbid that you would think such a thing!” Rather, He went to great lengths to affirm the charges. So here, rather than deny the Jews’ accusation, Jesus proceeds to defend His claims to be God (10:34-36):

“Has it not been written in your Law, ‘I said, you are gods’? If he called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken), 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’?”

This is a rabbinic form of argument that some (including the Jehovah’s Witnesses) misunderstand. They claim that Jesus was toning down His claim to deity by showing that the term “gods” can legitimately be used of men in certain ways. Thus He, a man, may be called “the Son of God.” But if Jesus had been toning down His claim to deity, the Jews would not still have tried to seize Him (10:39) after His explanation.

The quote comes from Psalm 82, which condemns corrupt judges in Israel. Their proper role should have been to act as God under His authority in the administration of justice. The psalmist referred to them as “gods,” not because they were divine in some sense, but because they were acting as God in their role as judges (see, Exod. 7:1; 21:6; 22:9). Jesus’ argument is from the lesser to the greater: “If mere men can be called ‘gods’ because of their position as judges, then how much more should I, whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, be called the Son of God?” Leon Morris (The Gospel According to John [Eerdmans], p. 528) adds, “Jesus is not classing Himself among men…. He separates and distinguishes Himself from men.” So both here and consistently throughout the Gospel of John, Jesus’ words show that He is God.

2. Jesus’ Works Show Him To Be God (10:32, 37-38).

Jesus repeatedly appealed to His works, which backed up His words. Replying to the Jews’ demand that He tell them plainly whether He was the Messiah, Jesus states (10:25), “I told you, and you do not believe; the works that I do in My Father’s name, these testify of Me.” When the Jews picked up stones to stone Jesus after His claim to be one with the Father, He answered (10:32), “I showed you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you stoning Me?” Then after His verbal defense to be God, He again adds (10:37-38), “If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; but if I do them, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, so that you may know and understand that the Father is in Me, and I in the Father.” In each case, He pointed out that His works backed up His verbal claims.

The term “works” in John refers to all that Jesus did to promote the Father’s purpose, but often specifically to the miracles that He did (see Morris, pp. 688-691). In the general sense, Jesus told the disciples (4:34), “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work.” After He healed the paralyzed man by the Pool of Bethesda, in defending His equality with God, Jesus referred both to the totality of His works and to the miracle of healing that man (5:19-20):

“Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner. For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself is doing; and the Father will show Him greater works than these, so that you will marvel.”

In the same discourse, He added (5:36), “But the testimony which I have is greater than the testimony of John; for the works which the Father has given Me to accomplish—the very works that I do—testify about Me, that the Father has sent Me.” Later, in the Upper Room, after Philip asks Jesus to show them the Father, Jesus replies (John 14:9-11):

“Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works. Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me; otherwise believe because of the works themselves.”

Later in the same discourse, Jesus indicts the Jewish leaders for rejecting both His words and His works (15:22-24):

“If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. He who hates Me hates My Father also. If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would not have sin; but now they have both seen and hated Me and My Father as well.”

So, all that Jesus said and did, but especially His miracles, confirm that He is God in human flesh. In our text, Jesus appeals one last time to these hard-hearted Jewish leaders (10:37-38), “If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; but if I do them, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, so that you may know and understand that the Father is in Me, and I in the Father.” “Know and understand” are the same Greek verb, but with different tenses. The idea is (Morris, p. 529), “Jesus is looking for them to have a moment of insight and then to remain permanently in the knowledge that that moment has brought them.” He wants them to come to full faith in Him as they consider His works and then to understand His unity with the Father. They are two distinct persons, and yet, with the Holy Spirit they comprise the one true God.

It’s no accident that liberal theologians and skeptics invariably attack the miracles in the Bible, including the miracles of Christ. Sometimes they sneer, “Just show me a miracle and I’ll believe.” But these Jews saw many miracles, yet they did not believe. In chapter 11, they will witness Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead, but their response is not to fall before Jesus in faith and worship, but rather to intensify their plans to kill Him. You have to ask, “Why is this? Why did people in Jesus’ day reject miracles that they witnessed with their own eyes? Why do people in our day reject the eyewitness testimony of credible witnesses who reported the miracles of Jesus?”

I think the only answer is that they realize that if Jesus really did these things, then He is Lord and they will have to repent of their sins and submit their lives to Him. In the case of the Jewish leaders, they liked their place of power, so they didn’t want to yield to Jesus as Lord. In the case of modern liberal scholars, they take pride in their intellectual abilities and in the recognition that they get by writing books that attack the credibility of the New Testament. But in both cases, the skeptics don’t want to repent of their sins and bow before Jesus as Lord. So they attack His miracles. But those miracles are a powerful witness to Jesus’ deity.

3. Jesus’ Person Shows Him To Be God (10:39).

The Jews put on hold their attempt to stone Jesus until He finished speaking. But they did not accept His testimony to His words and works. So we read (10:39), “Therefore they were seeking again to seize Him, and He eluded their grasp.” This could have been a miracle, where God blinded their eyes long enough for Jesus to escape. But rather, I think that Jesus’ person was so commanding and in control of the situation that His enemies dared not to lay a hand on Him. As we’ve seen repeatedly in John, no one could harm Jesus until His hour appointed by the Father (5:13; 7:30, 32, 44-46; 8:20, 59; 12:36).

I read recently that someone is going to do a remake of the movie “Ben Hur.” I hope that it’s as well-done as the first one. It’s been years now since I watched it, but I appreciated the way that it portrayed Jesus and His commanding presence. Ben Hur had been imprisoned by the Romans and was being taken to a galley ship to become a slave. He had dropped to the ground from exhaustion and was thirsty. He cried out, “God, help me!”

At that moment, the film showed Jesus from behind (the film never showed His face), stooping to give Ben Hur a drink. The Roman soldier in charge yelled to Jesus to leave the man alone and raised his whip. Jesus turned and looked at the threatening soldier, who just stood there in awe as he looked at Jesus’ face (which, as I said, the camera did not show). Slowly, he lowered his whip and turned away while Jesus gave Ben Hur a drink of water. That scene effectively communicated that Jesus’ commanding person showed Him to be God. As Jesus stated (10:18), “No one has taken it [My life] away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again.” Jesus was not a helpless victim. He was always in control, even over His own death and resurrection. His words, His works, and His person all show Him to be God.

4. John The Baptist’s Testimony Shows Jesus To Be God (10:41).

John concludes this section about Jesus’ public ministry by reporting that Jesus left Jerusalem and went away beyond the Jordan, where John was first baptizing. By this time John had been executed, but the effects of his ministry lingered on, as we read in 10:41: “Many came to Him and were saying, ‘While John performed no sign, yet everything John said about this man was true.’”

We first encountered John’s witness in 1:6-8: “There came a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to testify about the Light, so that all might believe through him. He was not the Light, but he came to testify about the Light.” In 1:15, John testified of Jesus, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.’” Although Jesus was six months younger than John, the prophet recognized Jesus’ pre-existence.

There follows an extended section where the Jews sent to John to ask if he was the Messiah, which he denied. Rather, he identified himself as the prophesied forerunner of Messiah. Pointing to Jesus, John proclaimed (1:29), “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” After stating that Jesus would be the one who baptizes in the Holy Spirit (1:33), John added (1:34), “I myself have seen, and have testified that this is the Son of God.” Later, when some of John’s followers were concerned because of Jesus’ growing popularity, John stated that Jesus was the bridegroom and he (John) was only the best man. Then he added (3:30), “He must increase, but I must decrease.” Jesus told His Jewish critics (5:33), “You have sent to John, and he has testified to the truth.” So if John was mistaken about who Jesus is, then Jesus was also mistaken, because He affirmed that John spoke the truth.

Note that John never performed a miracle, but he testified faithfully to the truth about Jesus. The result was that even after John was beheaded, these people in this region believed John’s testimony and through him came to believe in Jesus. That’s a great legacy to leave behind: Tell people the truth about who Jesus is so that they come to believe in Him. We’re like those pointing tubes at the Grand Canyon that are fixed on a point of interest. Our job is not to point people to us, but through us to Jesus.

So, Jesus’ words, His works, His person, and John the Baptist all give sufficient reasons to believe in Jesus as God and Savior. But the response is not automatic:

5. The Inerrant Scriptures Show Jesus To Be God.

We have already seen this from Jesus’ citation of Psalm 82:6, which He uses to support His claim to be the Son of God. But here I want to focus on the parenthetical remark that Jesus throws in (10:35): “(and the Scripture cannot be broken).” This is a remarkable, comment! Morris (p. 527) says, “It means that Scripture cannot be emptied of its force by being shown to be erroneous.” Scripture, in its original languages, is authoritative and inerrant.

But even more noteworthy is the fact that Jesus picks a rather obscure psalm and then picks a single word in the psalm, “gods,” to make His point. This means that the very words of Scripture are true and authoritative. Some argue that only the ideas in Scripture are inspired, but not the exact words. Others say that we can’t determine the meaning of words, because meaning is always filtered through our subjective interpretations.

But all such caviling goes against the Savior’s high view of inspired Scripture. Jesus often appealed to Scripture as the final, infallible authority, sometimes basing His argument on a verb tense (Matt. 22:31-32). He defeated Satan by quoting Scripture three times (Matt. 4:1-11). He often cited Scripture as the basis for His actions (Matt. 13:14-15; 21:13, 16, 42; Mark 7:6-13; 14:27; Luke 4:18-19; etc.). Jesus said that the Scriptures testify about Him (John 5:39, 46; Luke 24:25-26, 44-47). The inspired, inerrant, authoritative Scriptures show Jesus to be God.


In spite of all this evidence, some reject Jesus while others believe in Him (10:39-42). Note the contrast between 10:39, “Therefore they were seeking again to seize Him, and He eluded their grasp”; and 10:42, “Many believed in Him there.” That last word, “there,” emphasizes the contrast: In Jerusalem, where you would have thought that Jesus would be welcomed as Messiah, He was rejected. But “there,” outside of Judea, many believed in Him through the witness of the martyred forerunner coupled with the presence of Jesus Himself. There seems to be a parallel here with chapter 4, where the despised Samaritans believed in Jesus, not only because of the woman’s witness, but also because of direct contact with Jesus.

There are several practical lessons here. First, you may never live to see how God uses your witness, but you should faithfully try to point people to Jesus anyway. John did not live to see these people come to faith, but his witness was a key factor in their faith. Second, we learn how hard the human heart is apart from God’s grace. These Jewish leaders had more than sufficient reasons to believe in Jesus, but they still were intent on murdering Him. When you get opportunities to tell people about Jesus, pray that God will soften their hard hearts and open their blind eyes. Finally, if some reject your witness, don’t give up. Some seed falls on the road and doesn’t even sprout. Other seed sprouts up, but quickly dies because it has no root. Still other seed gets choked out by the weeds. But some seed bears fruit to eternal life (Matt. 13:1-8). Keep sowing the seed and pointing people to Jesus! He is the Lord!

Application Questions

  1. In light of the Jews’ rejection of the evidence for Jesus’ deity, to what extent should we use apologetics in our witness?
  2. Can people who profess to believe in Christ but knowingly deny the trinity be saved? What key truths are at stake?
  3. Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that Jesus is the Son of God, but not God the Son. Why is denying Jesus’ deity spiritually fatal?
  4. Must one believe in the inerrancy of Scripture to be saved? If not, what is at stake? What problems inevitably follow a weak view of Scripture?

Copyright, Steven J. Cole, 2013, All Rights Reserved.

Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture Quotations are from the New American Standard Bible, Updated Edition © The Lockman Foundation

Related Topics: Apologetics, Christology, Faith, Soteriology (Salvation)