Examine the Evidence

Posted: July 20, 2015 in John
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John 10:22-42, “Examine the Evidence”

Some of the most infamous words ever uttered in a courtroom have got to be, “If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit.”  During murder trial of OJ Simpson, the defense attorney Johnny Cochran noted that the arguments offered by the prosecution didn’t fit, and thus his client must be acquitted of all charges.  Some would argue that injustice won out that day, but this much was certain: the jury was supposed to examine the evidence.  Every courtroom attorney does his/her best to highlight the evidence in their favor, and persuade jurors to their conclusions.  Sometimes the evidence is vague, but other times it is so compelling and so convicting that there can be only one possible conclusion.

Such was the case with Jesus.  There was no ambiguity when it came to the evidence.  There was no question where the testimony surrounding Jesus led.  All of the arguments and evidence about Jesus led to one inescapable conclusion: that He is the Messiah, the Son of God.  That conclusion might be denied, but it couldn’t be refuted.  A choice had to be made, whether to believe the evidence, or to shut one’s eyes.

When we last left Jesus, the Jews had erupted in yet another division over Him.  They couldn’t decide if He was insane, demon-possessed, or what. After all, Jesus claimed an intimate relationship with God the Father.  Jesus spoke about the Father in ways not even Moses or David ever had.  Jesus confidently claimed to be known and loved by the Father.  Jesus even adopted the Divine name of the Father for Himself as He said “I AM the Door,” and “I AM the Good Shepherd.”  This was language people just didn’t use.  This wasn’t something to throw around lightly (and Jesus didn’t!).

Beyond that, Jesus even asserted Divine authority for Himself.  As the Good Shepherd, Jesus said that He would be the sacrifice for His sheep, willingly laying His life down for them.  That itself wasn’t supernatural; it was what Jesus went on to say.  Not only would Jesus lay down His life, but He would take it up again.  He claimed authority not only in the Divine name of God, but also in the power of God demonstrated through resurrection from the dead.  No wonder some people thought He was crazy!

There was only one problem: Jesus didn’t act like someone who was crazy.  He didn’t act like He belonged in a straight-jacket or was demon-possessed.  Quite the opposite!  Jesus was able to deftly handle the critiques of the Pharisees, and (more importantly) He demonstrated that He actually did possess Divine power.  After all, He had given sight to a man blind from birth.  That is no “ordinary” healing; that was a creative act from the Creator God.

So the question becomes: what do you do with such a Man?  This is not a person that can be ignored.  This is not something that can easily be pushed aside.  Jesus had made monumental claims, and He demonstrated power to back it up.  What do you do with all of that?  The Jews of Jerusalem needed some answers, and (to their credit) they went straight to Jesus in order to get them.  Of course they had a problem in that they didn’t want the answer that Jesus would provide.  All of the evidence had already led to the conclusion that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God – but that was exactly what the Jews did not want to hear.  They already made up their minds to refuse to believe, and thus they showed they didn’t belong to Jesus at all.  Yet to those who did believe, Jesus promised the most beautiful of all blessings: eternal life, assured & secured by the hand of God.  The evidence was there – would they take a step of faith to believe?  Will we?

John 10:22–42
22 Now it was the Feast of Dedication in Jerusalem, and it was winter.

  1. This seems like a minor detail, but it’s important in that it marks the passing of time.  The earlier chapters had taken place during the Feast of Tabernacles & the days that followed.  Now the apostle John moves ahead a few months in the calendar to December, to the Feast of Dedication (Hanukah).  Some scholars lump the previous miracle of healing the blind man to this timeframe – others think that time has passed since the healing took place.  Either way, Jesus is shown yet again in Jerusalem for another feast, and time has moved that much closer to the coming Passover & the Cross.  The mission continues.

23 And Jesus walked in the temple, in Solomon’s porch. 24 Then the Jews surrounded Him and said to Him, “How long do You keep us in doubt? If You are the Christ, tell us plainly.”

  1. Jesus walked freely in the temple (in a covered area known as “Solomon’s porch”), but not for long.  The people notice Him there & He is soon physically surrounded & people begin throwing questions at Him. Where His disciples were is unsaid.  Perhaps they were at His side, also surrounded – perhaps they were elsewhere & Jesus was left on His own.  Either way, the situation is tense & it seems ripe for mob violence.
    1. Does Jesus seem worried?  Not in the slightest!  The situation does quickly turn violent, but even that does not upset Jesus. Why?  Because Jesus knew the timing of God & knew God was perfectly in control.  God had a plan for Jesus, and it didn’t include death by a mob stoning.  Thus Jesus could act and respond in calm confidence.
    2. Obviously we don’t know God’s plans for our own lives to the detail that Jesus knew God’s plan for Him.  Yet our God is the same God, and He is just as sovereign today as He was on that day.  We ought to be able to walk with just as much confidence as Jesus, knowing that whatever it is we face is something our loving God allowed.  He will equip and empower us to face it, just as Jesus faced the mob.
  2. The question “How long do You keep us in doubt/suspense?” is an interesting idiom in the Greek when translated literally.  “How long will You take away our lives?  Or… how long will You hold up our souls?”  Their whole being was wrapped up in this question.  Of course, this was a common turn-of-phrase in the Greek language, but it certainly proved more true with Jesus than with any other area of doubt.  Their whole lives were unsettled as long as the question of Jesus’ identity remained unresolved.  They had to know the answer, so they were compelled to ask. 
  3. The object of their doubt & curiosity was Jesus Himself.  “If You are the Christ, tell us plainly.”  They had heard enough of the “I AM” statements to know what Jesus was saying, but they wanted to hear the actual word “Messiah/Christ” from Jesus’ own lips.  Years earlier, they treated John the Baptist in a similar fashion, and John told them directly that he was not the Christ (1:20), though he was still a bit vague about his actual role in the line of Elijah.  In Jesus’ case, the Jewish leadership was looking for some sort of plain statement: either a categorical denial (after which they could convince the people Jesus was a fraud, using language He didn’t understand), or a categorical affirmation (after which they could convict Jesus of blasphemy).  In other words, they didn’t ask the question of Jesus in order to get an honest answer – they simply wanted to know which strategy to take in order to dismiss Him.  Their minds were already made up (hence their “surrounding” of Jesus); they just wanted Jesus to be the One to take the next step.
    1. God welcomes honest questions.  God reveals Himself to those who honestly seek Him in humility & faith.  But hardened skeptics receive a different response.  If you’ve already hardened your heart against Jesus, what purpose does it serve for Him to reveal Himself any further?  This is why Jesus was later silent before His accusers, and why He did no miracles in the presence of Herod.  God is not on the level of a performing monkey, responding to our every demand.  Jesus is God.  That God reveals Himself to us at all is an act of His grace.  The Bible affirms that God resists the proud, and gives grace to the humble (Jas 4:6).  If you go to God in your pride, demanding answers, you can expect few (if any).  But if you go to God in humility, you can be sure that Jesus will respond.  Jesus won’t cast away any who come to Him in faith (Jn 6:37).

25 Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in My Father’s name, they bear witness of Me.

  1. Jesus is far to wise to fall for their legal trap.  They already knew His answer, and would later pick up stones in response.  Jesus did not give them the “plain” answer they were looking for.  Actually, He had already given many clear answers, and they had chosen not to believe.  All the works, miracles, and proclamations Jesus gave in His ministry was ample evidence as to His identity.  This wasn’t lost upon the Jewish leadership.  All the way back in Ch. 3, Nicodemus had affirmed that no one could do the things that Jesus could unless God was with Him (3:2).  The Jews had already tried to stone Jesus for blasphemy at least once earlier, when Jesus specifically claimed to be the I AM seen by Abraham (8:58).  So the Jews had seen the evidence, and they knew where it led.  They just didn’t like the results.  Thus they chose not to believe.
  2. How obvious to things need to get, before we believe? What is stopping you from belief?  His works make it clear!

26 But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you. 27 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.

  1. There was a reason the Jews surrounding Jesus that day didn’t believe the evidence: they weren’t His sheep.  They didn’t belong to Him, with Jesus being their Good Shepherd.  As Jesus had earlier taught in the parable, if they had been His sheep they would have recognized the voice of their Shepherd and followed Him when He called (10:4,27).  They would have seen the works of Jesus & readily come to faith, recognizing the work of their God when they saw it.  But they weren’t His sheep, so they didn’t.
  2. Question: “Does this mean that their lack of faith wasn’t their fault?  If they weren’t Jesus’ sheep, wouldn’t that make it impossible for them to become Jesus’ sheep?”  It’s not quite that simple.  Keep in mind that Jesus still calls upon this same crowd to look at His works and believe (10:38).  Jesus certainly doesn’t command them to believe if belief was impossible for them. (That would be a cruel trick indeed!)  Belief/faith is a choice.  TO be sure, it’s a choice that is impossible to make without the empowerment of God, but God gives us that power as He reveals Himself to us.  The Holy Spirit convicts us of sin, righteousness, and judgment (16:8) – why?  So that we would repent and believe.  The news of Jesus’ resurrection has gone out into the entire world, why?  Because God commands all men everywhere to repent (Acts 17:30).  This is a choice that God plainly puts in front of every man, woman, and child on the planet.  So yes, it was the Jews’ fault they didn’t believe…that was the choice they made.
  3. So why did Jesus say they weren’t His sheep?  Because they weren’t!  They chose not to believe, so they remained outside of the fold of God.  This was a simply a fact.  They didn’t believe the evidence that God had already provided, so they certainly weren’t going to respond to anything else.  They already proved themselves to be something other than Jesus’ sheep & so they responded as might be expected.
  4. That said, we need to be careful not to remove the mystery.  There are certain things about the eternal counsels of God that are impossible for our limited minds to understand.  From our human perspective, we can easily see how they bear their own blame for unbelief.  No doubt God has a fuller picture from His own perspective.  However it is we see our own role in faith (or lack thereof), God is still sovereign over all of it.
    1. Bottom line for the skeptic: you can’t blame God for your unbelief.  If you don’t believe, you won’t be able to fall back on that excuse when standing before God on Judgment Day.  No one will be able to truthfully say “It’s Your fault I didn’t believe!”  No – we will all answer for our own sins, and for every time we hardened our hearts against God’s revelation towards us.  The solution?  If you hear His voice, respond while you have the chance!
    2. Those who do respond to Jesus in faith experience something wonderful.  We follow Him – we are known by Him – and we are given life by Him.  Vs. 28…

28 And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.

  1. Hear this & hear it clearly: Jesus gives eternal life!  What kind of life?  Everlasting life – life that stretches eon after eon.  We think of life in terms of decades; Jesus gives life in terms of millennia.  That is life beyond our comprehension!
  2. Keep in mind this isn’t boring life.  This isn’t twiddling our thumbs for eternity while hanging out on a cloud strumming a harp.  This is real life, good life, active life, abundant life (10:10).  The very best days we can imagine today – those days when we feel as if we’re bubbling over in life – that (to the extreme) is what awaits those who believe in Jesus Christ as Lord.  That is what we will experience eon after eon.  We will be living as the men and women that God created us to be, in perfect fellowship with our Maker, without the stumbling presence of sin.  There will be no more blocks between us and our God.  Sin won’t be an issue because sin will not exist.  It will be life in all of its intended perfection, forever.
    1. The best part?  We don’t have to wait until heaven to experience it!  We can taste of it today!  Sure, we still deal with sin, our flesh, and this fallen world, but we get glimpses of this abundant life when we walk with Jesus & are fully empowered by the Holy Spirit.  So be filled, and walk in that abundance!
  3. Jesus speaks of two assurances of this eternal life, closely related to one another.  First: “they shall never perish.”  The life that Jesus gives will never be taken away – it will never be destroyed.  It’s one thing to be promised eternal life; it’s another thing for the promise to have no escape clause.  This promise comes with protection, and this protection comes by the personal hand of Jesus.  And that’s the second assurance: “neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.”  Think of it this way: (1) WE won’t lose our eternal life, (2) NO ONE ELSE will take that life from us.  No one and nothing can snatch us out of the hand of our Jesus.  This fits perfectly with Jesus’ renewed parable of the Good Shepherd.  Recall that the Shepherd protected His sheep from thieves, robbers, strangers, and wolves.  Those enemies were known to snatch sheep away from their shepherds – yet Jesus’ sheep do not face that danger.  We have the same enemies, and we are definitely involved in a grand spiritual battle – but through it all, we are protected by Jesus.  The devil might attack us, but he cannot steal away our salvation.  He can come against us, but he cannot snatch us out of the hand of Jesus!
  4. And it gets better.  Our salvation is not only assured by Jesus, but also by God the Father.  See vs. 29…

29 My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. 30 I and My Father are one.”

  1. So much theology packed into so few words!  (And we’ve got so little time! J)  First we see one of the roles of the Father in our salvation: He gives us to Jesus.  He’s the One who makes us the sheep of the Son.  Again, we cannot remove the sovereign work of God from our salvation.  The Bible clearly demonstrates that our role is to willingly & humbly come to faith, choosing to believe.  God’s role stretches beyond our comprehension.  He not only allows us to believe, making it possible for us to believe, but He actually gives us over TO Jesus.  This is very similar to what Jesus taught in Ch. 6, when Jesus taught that He is the bread from heaven who gives life to the world.  John 6:35–37, "(35) And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst. (36) But I said to you that you have seen Me and yet do not believe. (37) All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out."  The Father gives, and we come.  To say that faith is a choice that we make does not contradict the idea that salvation is still a sovereign act of God.  When it comes to salvation, someone has to start the work & that Someone is God.  God is the initiator; we are the responders.  God chose to give us to Jesus as His sheep; we chose to respond to God’s choice in faith.
    1. How exactly does it all work out?  Again, there is mystery here…and it’s one over which we ought to tread lightly.  Christians do a disservice to ourselves when we try to so tightly define our theology in order to avoid mystery.  Inevitably, we’re going to shortchange some aspect of the character and work of God.  After all, how exactly can we completely define every aspect of the infinite God?  Not even the pages of the Bible are enough!  Some things are mysterious, and that’s OK.  We might never resolve the tension between Arminianism & Calvinism, between the free will of men & the predestined will of God – and that’s OK.  The Bible leaves room for both, and so should we.
    2. The far better issue to ponder is this: as a born-again believer in Jesus, it means that God the Father personally gave you to Jesus in order to be saved.  God personally intervened in your life because He chose you and loved you.  How amazing is that?
  2. Second, we see the glory of God.  He “is greater than all.”  There’s a bit of textual debate on this phrase, but the majority of scholars see it as the major translations put it.  God is greater than all things.  God is greater than the Church (the sheep of Jesus) – God is greater than salvation – God is simply ‘greater.’  There is none like God.  Even Jesus, who is God, affirms the greatness of God the Father.  God the Son who is worthy of worship, does not hesitate to worship God the Father and ascribe greatness and glory to Him.  (And if Jesus does it, how much more should we?)
  3. Third, we see the security of God.  In vs. 28, Jesus spoke of the eternal security He provides His sheep; in vs. 29 Jesus says the exact same thing of His Father.  Just as we will never be snatched out of the hand of Jesus, we will never be snatched out of the hand of God the Father.  To belong to one is to belong to the other, and that takes us to the next point…
  4. Fourth, we see the unity of God: “I and [the] Father are one.” (NKJV/KJV wrongly inserts the possessive pronoun.)  Father and Son have a unified role in our assurance of salvation (as seen in vs. 29), but Jesus’ statement goes far broader here.  Jesus speaks not only of power and will, but of essence.  The ‘stuff’ that makes up God the Father is the same ‘stuff’ that makes up God the Son.  The way Jesus states this is so incredibly theologically subtle, but intricate.  He makes it clear that Father and Son are not the same Person – i.e., the Son is not simply another version of the Father as if God appears in a different form.  At the same time, Father and Son are of the same essence.  They are “one” in will and substance. 
    1. This is absolutely huge!  And the Jews pick up on Jesus’ implication immediately, as seen in vs. 31.  Never let someone try to tell you that Jesus never personally claimed to be God.  His words could hardly be clearer here.

31 Then the Jews took up stones again to stone Him. 32 Jesus answered them, “Many good works I have shown you from My Father. For which of those works do you stone Me?” 33 The Jews answered Him, saying, “For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy, and because You, being a Man, make Yourself God.”

  1. Scholars have noted that there would not have been any stones large enough for execution lying around where Jesus was in Solomon’s porch (10:23).  For the Jews to take up stones meant that they would have to go somewhere (even if was a nearby construction area) to find stones large enough to cast at Him.  IOW, this was mob-violence, but it wasn’t just a moment of passion where they lashed out in their rage.  There was purpose and intent in their actions.  They wanted Jesus dead, and they were willing to put forth the effort to see it done.
  2. Jesus’ question is logical: “What’s your beef?” Jesus had told them to examine the evidence of His works, and now they were trying to kill Him.  Which work had Jesus done that was a crime worthy of capital punishment?  Of course, there was none – and the Jews admitted as such.  They had no complaints about Jesus’ deeds (though earlier, they tried to find Him guilty of doing a good deed on the Sabbath – 5:18).  Jesus’ deeds plainly testified to the work of God, so they couldn’t convict Him of that.
  3. The problem wasn’t Jesus’ works, but His words.  They didn’t want Him dead because of His miracles.  No doubt they would have been happy to have Jesus do all kinds of miracles, as long as He never taught anything at the same time.  Like many people today, if they can just have the blessings of God without acknowledging Jesus as Lord, that would have been a perfectly fine setup. (Things don’t work that way!)  Their problem was that they couldn’t avoid Jesus’ conclusion.  He may not have used the actual word “Messiah,” but Jesus clearly claimed unity with God.  The Jews had the crime they were looking for: blasphemy.  Jesus was a Man who claimed to be God.  And that’s true: Jesus was a Man claiming to be God.  But Jesus isn’t only a Man.  He IS God.  If anyone else had said vs. 20 that “I and the Father are One,” then they most definitely would have spoken blasphemy.  Even today, we can rightly call ourselves the children of God, because that is what we are through Jesus Christ.  We can rightly say that God is in us, because that is what the Holy Spirit has done by indwelling us.  What we cannot say is that we are one WITH God, because we’re not.  No matter how many blessings we receive from God, one thing that never happens is that we become God.  We don’t.  We won’t.  We cannot claim to be God, or be one with God.  That is something simply beyond us.  God is wholly other than us.  (Which is where New Age & pantheism gets it all wrong.)  But Jesus CAN claim this, because it’s true.  If it were us, it would be blasphemy.  Because it’s Jesus, it’s not.  Jesus can claim unity with God because He IS God.
  4. How does Jesus deal with the legal charge of blasphemy?  He makes them think it through.  Vs. 34…

34 Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your law, ‘I said, “You are gods” ’?

  1. Some reading this for the first time (or for the 100th time) might be amazed that those words are actually in the Bible.  Does the Bible actually say “you are gods”?  Did Jesus quote the Old Testament accurately?  Yes.  Psalm 82, "(1) God stands in the congregation of the mighty; He judges among the gods. (2) How long will you judge unjustly, And show partiality to the wicked? Selah (3) Defend the poor and fatherless; Do justice to the afflicted and needy. (4) Deliver the poor and needy; Free them from the hand of the wicked. … (5) They do not know, nor do they understand; They walk about in darkness; All the foundations of the earth are unstable. (6) I said, “You are gods, And all of you are children of the Most High. (7) But you shall die like men, And fall like one of the princes.” (8) Arise, O God, judge the earth; For You shall inherit all nations."  The first thing to notice is that Asaph (the writer) is NOT promoting polytheism.  No properly interpreted Scripture will ever contradict any other Scripture.  The Bible is replete with statements that God Almighty is the only God, so we have to assume Asaph has something different in mind.  And he does.  When the psalm is read in context, it’s clear that the author is writing of earthly judges and kings.  They were the ones who were not defending the poor & fatherless – they were the ones who would face death because of their neglect & how they showed favoritism to the wicked.  That’s the whole point of the psalm.  These judges among Israel stood in the place of God, as God’s chosen vessels to administer judgment according to His word, and they didn’t do it.  They fell down on the job & did it wickedly, and God called them to the carpet.  But because these men stood in His place, God called them “gods.”  He didn’t give them the Divine name of Yahweh, but said that they were little “Elohim,” little gods in that they did what the One True God gave them to do.
  2. What Psalm 86 does NOT do (nor does Jesus teach) is that the Bible affirms that human beings somehow become little gods ourselves.  It doesn’t even suggest that as God is, so we can become.  Jesus is certainly one with the Father; Jesus does not even begin to imply the same thing as us.  We can be brought into the will of God, but we cannot be made of the same essence as God.  (Be careful to always interpret Scripture in its proper context!)
  3. So if Jesus isn’t teaching that all of God’s children are little gods, what is He doing?  Is He proof-texting? Is He just ripping a verse out of context to get out of trouble on a technicality?  No.  He’s arguing from the lesser to the greater.  See vs. 35…

35 If He called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken), 36 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’?

  1. In other words, if the Bible can use the word “god” to speak of wicked earthly judges, how much more can the Son of God use the word “God” to speak of Himself?  Even if the Jewish leadership & Pharisees chose not to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, it was plain that Jesus had been sent by God & was empowered by God…His works were a plain testimony to that.  If the word “gods” could be applied to wicked judges, surely it could be applied far more to the righteous Servant of God.
  2. Is it a technicality?  Perhaps.  But it’s also the truth.  The Father DID sanctify Jesus (set Him apart) and send Him into the world.  If the Pharisees believed nothing else, they could not deny this much.  They were the ones trying to catch Jesus on a technicality.  They were the ones trying to get Jesus to admit that He was the Messiah so that they could use His words against Him.  Jesus IS the Messiah, and Jesus IS God.  His usage of the language was far more appropriate than theirs.
  3. There’s one other idea that is almost thrown in as an aside, purely as a parenthesis – but it’s incredibly important: Jesus’ view of the Scripture. “The Scripture cannot be broken.” Jesus affirms the inerrancy and infallibility of Scripture.  The Scripture cannot be destroyed – it cannot be altered – it cannot be cast aside as being wrong.  There might be some parts of the Bible more difficult to interpret than others, but the Bible itself is never wrong.  What it teaches is true (inerrancy), and through its teaching we will never be led astray (infallibility).  When we hold our Bibles in our hands, what we are holding is the very word of God.  Every statement within is a truth breathed out by God the Holy Spirit, and written in the original language of the authors.  It has been miraculously preserved & passed down to us through the generations.  What it says is trustworthy & authoritative, and we dare not take it for granted!

37 If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; 38 but if I do, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, that you may know and believe that the Father is in Me, and I in Him.”

  1. Jesus puts the attention back on the evidence.  The Jews had used His words as a smokescreen – an excuse to try to kill Him.  What Jesus taught about being one with the Father was absolutely true, but they had glossed over all of the testimony that led up to that statement, looking for a reason to turn on Him.  Now that Jesus addressed their excuse, He turned back to that testimony.  If Jesus did the work of the devil, the people had the right to stone Him.  If Jesus did the work of mere men, the people had the right to stone Him.  After all, Jesus would be claiming to be God without demonstrating any proof that He is God.  The Jews could look at His works, and see for themselves whether or not Jesus was deserving of belief.  Actions speak louder than words.  Did Jesus’ actions back up the things that He said?
  2. And the answer is yes!  Jesus performed countless healings – He had turned water into wine – He had multiplied the loaves and fishes – He had walked on water & done many other miraculous things.  In the very next chapter, it will go on to show Jesus raising the dead.  There’s a work of God, if there ever was one!  The evidence was abundant and obvious.  The Jews could look at the works of Jesus, and know that everything Jesus said was true.  They could look at the works of Jesus and believe that He is one with the Father.
    1. So can we!  That’s one of the primary points of the resurrection.  It is the ultimate work of God.  It is the premier testimony that Jesus was sent by God, empowered by God, and is in God just as God the Father is in Him.  If there was ever one single reason why all the world ought to come to faith in Jesus Christ, it’s because Jesus was raised from the dead!  Look at the works of Jesus – see what it is He has done.  Can there be any other explanation?  How else does someone rise from the dead by their own power?  It cannot happen, apart from actually being God.  If Jesus rose from the dead, then every word He taught & every claim He made about Himself simply must be true.  The evidence all points in one direction: Jesus is God, and we must come to faith in Him.  Believe!
  3. Notice this is what Jesus desires for these Jews.  To these same people with rocks in their hands ready to cast at His head, Jesus is imploring them to believe and be saved.  He is telling them to make the choice, take a step of faith and believe.  He will not force them to come to faith, but He does force them to make a choice.  They have to say either “yes” or “no,” but they cannot remain undecided.  Once we look at the evidence, we have to come to a conclusion.  Jesus wants us to believe – He even commands the Jews to believe (using the imperative mood).  Whether or not they will is up to them.  Sadly, they don’t.  Vs. 39…

39 Therefore they sought again to seize Him, but He escaped out of their hand.

  1. John doesn’t specifically say that the Jews attempted to stone Jesus once more, but it isn’t a stretch of the imagination to think that they did.  They certainly tried to arrest Jesus – to shut Him up & shut Him down.  They couldn’t stand the implications of what He said, knowing what He said was true.  The evidence DID point to the fact that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God – but that was a conclusion they couldn’t believe.  More specifically, that was a conclusion they wouldn’t believe.  They didn’t WANT Jesus to be the Christ, so they picked the only option they could think of: violence.
    1. People will do almost anything in desperation when facing a choice they don’t like.  Even today, many people simply refuse to admit that Jesus is God, and they vehemently resist any suggestion otherwise.  In some cases, they get downright violent, just like the Jews of Jesus’ day.  If they can’t escape the logical conclusion, then they can at least shut up the people saying it.
  2. So they “sought again” to arrest Jesus, but they couldn’t do it.  Why?  Because it wasn’t Jesus’ time to be arrested.  Again, God had a plan for Jesus & it didn’t include mob violence at this time.  Jesus would be arrested soon enough, but it would be in His time & His way, all according to God’s sovereign plan for our salvation.

40 And He went away again beyond the Jordan to the place where John was baptizing at first, and there He stayed.

  1. For the first time in several chapters, we see Jesus leave Jerusalem & go into a different region altogether – travelling all the way to Perea, where John baptized at Bethany-beyond-Jordan.  Interestingly enough, Jesus seems to be going back to the place His ministry began, with the apostle John showing it as a brief respite prior to His final push into Jerusalem for the cross.
  2. The main point here is one of contrast.  For weeks (and months) Jesus had encountered all kinds of resistance in Jerusalem.  He had performed amazing miracles & given all kinds of teaching, and still the people of Jerusalem resisted Him, stubbornly refusing to admit the evidence about Him.  How would the people of Perea respond?  In faith.  Vs. 41…

41 Then many came to Him and said, “John performed no sign, but all the things that John spoke about this Man were true.” 42 And many believed in Him there.

  1. It’s not clear how long ago by this point John the Baptist had died, but it certainly is a testimony to his ministry that the people still remembered his testimony about Jesus.  John didn’t perform any supernatural miracles of God, but John had the unmistakable supernatural authority of God upon his life.  People heard his teaching, and heard the undeniable voice of an authentic prophet.  John testified clearly that Jesus was the Christ, and as the Perean Jews saw Jesus in their midst, they knew John had spoken the truth.  They saw the evidence for themselves, and they came to faith. 
  2. What a contrast to those in Jerusalem!  Perea was the backwater; Jerusalem was the educated.  Perea was filled with laypeople; Jerusalem was filled with religious elite.  They each saw the evidence, yet only one group came to the right conclusion.  Those in Perea came to faith much more readily than those in Jerusalem.  Jesus had offered Himself to the elite, but the elite had too much pride.  They were unwilling to believe.  It was the humble who believed – it was the humble who came to faith.
    1. Everyone is invited to come to faith, but not everyone can.  For some people, their pride is an unmovable stumbling block.  They can’t come to faith because they don’t want to.  Humble yourself!  Don’t try to see Jesus through the stumbling block of pride.  Bend your knee in humility and be rid of pride altogether.

Conclusion:
The evidence is abundant, and it leads to one place: Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God.  He is the Good Shepherd who provides us life, and He assures us that same life.  As God of true God, He gives us all the eternal security we could ever need – we are safe in the palm of His hands.

So make the choice to believe.  If you’ve never done so, turn to Jesus in faith today.  He invites us to examine the evidence freely.  Take a look at His works, and line them up with His teaching.  If what Jesus DID is of God, then what Jesus SAYS carries the truth of God.  It brings us to the conclusion that Jesus IS God, and we need to trust Him as such.  Make the choice to place yourself in the hands of Jesus today, and trust Him with your eternity.

For those of us who already believe, take confidence in who Jesus is, and what He has done for you.  We’ve heard His voice, and followed His leading.  God the Father has placed us into the fold of God the Son.  He has granted us abundant eternal life: life of the very best kind, with the promise that it will last forever.  We will never be stolen away from the hands of God – after all, who could possibly overcome the will of the Almighty?  We can rejoice alongside Paul, as he wrote, Romans 8:38–39, "(38) For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, (39) nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Amen!  Beloved, you have been saved by the work of God & you are kept saved by the work of God.  He loves you & you will never be separated from Him. 

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