Hanukkah at Solomon’s Porch in the Temple
The setting is the Temple, Solomon’s Porch at the Feast of Dedication (Hanukkah) in Jerusalem. A discussion has arisen as to whether Jesus is the Messiah so He appealed to His works that He undertook in His Father’s name. At Tabernacles Jesus had delivered a discourse stating that He was the good shepherd and the door of the sheep and that if anyone entered by Him they would be saved and would go in and out and find pasture. The response was divided since some said He had a demon whilst others responded, “Can a demon open the eyes of the blind” (John 10:21)? Jesus resumed the shepherding theme explaining to those questioning Him at Hanukkah, that they do not believe because they are not His sheep.
Man Claiming to be God or God taking the form of a Man?
Jesus then took His argument a stage further affirming the assurance of those who followed Him who cannot be snatched from the Father’s hand and that I and My Father are one. That claim was too much for those surrounding Him and they sought to stone Him. He asked them for which of His good works do you stone Me? They explained that it was not for good works but for blasphemy since He was a Man claiming to be God.
This is not the first time that some Jewish groups tried to stone Him. We must remember that the setting is a Jewish context and that Jesus encountered many Jewish groups, that Yeshua (Jesus) Himself was Jewish that all His talmidim (disciples) were Jewish and so were the first believers. At that time there were Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes, Zealots, Judeans, Galileans and Samaritans. When John refers to ‘the Jews’ in John 10 some Messianic commentators are of the view that he is referring to some “Ioudaioi” (Judeans). Remember that in our current context we have strict orthodox Jews, orthodox, modern-orthodox, reform, liberal, atheist Jews and of course Messianic Jews as well as Jewish people that subscribe to other religions and often refer to themselves as “spiritual” but not “religious.”
In John 5, some Jews tried to stone Jesus because He claimed that God was His Father thereby making Himself equal with God (John 5:18). In John 8 again some took up stones to kill Him as He claimed that before Abraham was I AM, which was a clear reference to His divinity (John 8:58; cf. Exodus 3:14). It is hardly surprising then that in John 10 a similar reaction is evoked. Their grievance was that He was a Man claiming to be God. What was the reality? His works proved who He was, which He carried out in His Father’s name. He was actually God taking the form of a Man and He was and is fully God and fully Man. He is a God that is great but also humble, majestic yet knowable, mighty, though accessible.
I am the Son of God
Since they accused Him of blasphemy and claiming to be God, He drew their attention to Psalm 82 which is a plea for biblical justice. Since the judges referred to as “gods” (Elohim) acted unjustly they would die like men and the Judge of the whole earth would judge them. His response to their objection requires insight regarding the Rabbinic methods of argument common in discussions.[i] When the term “gods” is used in Psalm 82:1, 6 it relates to human judges and by no means speaks of a divine nature in man.[ii]
So why did Jesus refer to that Scripture and what point was He making? Messianic commentators have been able to provide vital insight regarding Yeshua’s “Kal Vahomer” argument. Kal Vahomer is the first of Rabbi Hillel’s seven rules.
David Stern in his “Jewish New Testament” commentary states:
“Yeshua’s wordplay implies a rabbinic-style kal v’ chomer argument (Mt 6:30N): if humans who do evil works as they “judge unjustly” are Elohim, how much more is Yeshua, who does good works (vv.25, 32-33,37-38) Elohim; and if “all of you are sons of the Most High,” how much more does the description “Son of God” apply to Yeshua.[iii]
Again Jesus appealed to His earlier argument that if they did not believe His works (which were evident) then they should not believe in Him. However, if they believed the works that He did then they may know and believe that the Father is in Him and He is in the Father. Walvoord and Zuck note, “Jesus now completed His argument. Since the inerrant Bible called their judges “gods” the Jews could not logically accuse Him of blasphemy for calling Himself God’s Son since He was under divine orders (set apart) and on God’s mission (sent into the world).[iv]
Beyond the Jordan Many Believed in Him There
Sadly, the reaction at the end of the discussion was the same as it was part way through since some sought to seize Him but He escaped out of their hand. Jesus then went beyond the Jordan to where John was first baptising. Interestingly those who heard him there recognised that although John performed no sign, all the things John spoke concerning Yeshua were true. Consequently many believed in Him there.
In this passage we have seen that Jesus claimed that He and His Father were one, that He is the Son of God and that He is God. Both His works and His teaching are incomparable. Some rejected Him and others received Him. Jesus is the most famous Jewish person and the most worshipped Person ever, but who are you following and in whom do you trust? Do you believe in Him and will you follow Him?
[i] John F. Walvoord & Roy B. Zuck The Bible Knowledge Commentary An Exposition of the Scriptures by the Dallas Theological Seminary Faculty (Victor, 1983; USA), P312
[ii] Ibid, p312
[iii] David H. Stern Jewish New Testament Commentary (Jewish New Testament Publications Inc, 1992; USA), P189
[iv] Walvoord & Zuck, p312