Feast of Dedication
The Deity of Jesus (John 10:22-39)
Jesus returned to Jerusalem for the Feast of Dedication. This was not a divinely appointed feast, but one established by the Maccabees in 164 B.C. to honor the purification and rededication of the Temple. The occasion of the feast afforded Jesus an opportunity to teach a large number of people. The feast occurs in December, during the cold, wet season of Israel, thus explaining why John mentions that Jesus was walking under the cover of Solomon’s portico in the Temple.
The Jewish leaders considered the feast that honored the ouster of a foreign occupier a good time for Jesus to clearly declare whether he was the awaited Messiah. The request to declare himself to be the Christ likely comes from a desire to use a plain declaration against Jesus to the Roman authorities.
The truth is that Jesus had been showing them that he was the Messiah; it just wasn’t in a form they could use as evidence against Jesus. In every way, Jesus met the characteristics of the Messiah found in prophecy as no other person could (John 5:39-40). They had the testimony of John (John 5:33). But most importantly, they had seen the miracles he had done attesting that God, the Father, had set His seal on Jesus.
The reason they did not believe the evidence is because they refused to accept Jesus and follow him (I John 4:6). In essence, these people are not able to learn the truth.
Jesus sheep both listen to him and follow him. Jesus promises to give them eternal life. This should have been a hint to the Jews that Jesus is not talking about being a Messiah who would set up an earthly kingdom. The physical realm dies, so Jesus is talking about the spiritual realm. Jesus also expresses his confidence in his power. No external force that remove one of his followers (Romans 8:38-39). This doesn’t preclude a follower from leaving Jesus voluntarily (Hebrews 6:4-6), but it does mean a follower can’t be forced to leave against his will.
The reason for Jesus’ bold statement is that God, the Father, is behind him. God has given these followers to him and no one is greater than God. In addition, Jesus said, he and God are one. This is not one person, but one in the sense of being of the same nature (Galatians 3:28). In Greek, Jesus used a plural verb (“are”) showing there are multiple who exist as one. The one is in neuter form, that is they are one thing or one type. Since the topic of discussion is Jesus and the Father’s ability to retain their followers, the “one” in passage is a claim to have the same abilities or power.
The Jews understood this to be the case for they took up stones to hurl at Jesus because they understood that this man in front of them had claimed to be equal to God. Jesus causes them to pause by asking for which of the many works of God that he did were they going to stone him. Recall they originally ask Jesus to declare himself. Jesus is again pointing to the evidence and we see the Jews again ignoring the evidence. It doesn’t matter what he did, it is that what he said wasn’t acceptable. They miss the point that what Jesus has done supports what he stated. This is the third time it has been recorded (John 5:18; 8:59).
Jesus then points out that in Psalms 89, judges are called gods because they represent God when they are called upon to render judgment. If it is appropriate to call men gods in some cases (see Exodus 4:16; 7:1 for other cases), then it should not be a matter of instant death if Jesus claims to be the Son of God with the blessing of God the Father. Jesus pointed out that the Scriptures are the ultimate authority. They cannot be set aside, so if God says this is permissible, then it must be true. Again, Jesus points to the evidence of the miraculous deeds he has done to prove that his testimony is true. Those miracles prove that Jesus and the Father are one.
But Jesus’ arguments fell on deaf ears, again proving that he was right – these people cannot learn. They sought to take him, but he alluded their grasp. John said “again” because it had happened on other occasions (John 7:30, 44).