John 10:31-39 (NIV)
Again the Jews picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus said to them, “I have shown you many great miracles from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?”
“We are not stoning you for any of these,” replied the Jews, “but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.”
Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I have said you are gods’? If he called them ‘gods,’ to whom the word of God came–and the Scripture cannot be broken–what about the one whom the Father set apart as his very own and sent into the world? Why then do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said, ‘I am God’s Son’? Do not believe me unless I do what my Father does. But if I do it, even though you do not believe me, believe the miracles, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father.” Again they tried to seize him, but he escaped their grasp.
Blasphemy was a capital offense in the Jewish justice system. Blasphemy could be speaking against God or cursing His name. But it also included making any kind of false statement about God or encouraging people to worship other gods. To these Jewish scholars, Jesus claim that He and God were one was tantamount to encouraging idolatry. And Jesus did, in fact accept worship – see John 9:37 for a recent example. If He had not been God in the flesh, that would indeed have been worthy of condemnation.
But Jesus was indeed one with God, literally God in the flesh, so His claims were not blasphemy, but truth. God really had sent Him into he world. He had come from God and was returning to God soon.
Jesus pointed to two “witnesses” in His defense. The first was the Scriptures, specifically Psalm 82:6, in which the leaders of the people are called “Elohim,” literally “gods,” but figuratively in this case, referring to their power and authority. Jesus’ point was not about semantics, but about the fact that, if the Scripture referred to those leaders who really were mere men as “gods,” then He, who did such amazing miracles and who spoke on God’s behalf with such authority, was at least as worthy of that title as those who had merited it in the past.
The second witness was the works that Jesus was doing. Miracles had happened in the past, but the miracles that Jesus was doing were unprecedented in their magnitude, their scope, and their sheer numbers, sometimes hundreds in a single day. These leaders could know merely by that that there was an intimacy, a congruence, a positive identity between Jesus and the God they worshiped.
But those leaders’ theology had no room in it for a “Son of God,” let alone for God in the flesh, and they were unwilling to allow for the idea that their theology was incorrect, or at least incomplete. So, they tried to arrest Jesus, but He slipped away from then into the crowd, and then out of the city.
Father, we still have to be careful not to believe that we have ever reached a point where we perfectly understand You or the ways in which You work. That belief will shut our minds and hearts to any further light that You want to show us, and stunt any further spiritual growth. You are infinite, and we will never fully grasp anything about You. And Your divine word, inspired by Your Spirit, allows us only a glimpse into that infinity, and provides a way for Your Spirit to guide us into even deeper understanding. Help me to always keep a growing edge in my theology, so that You can show me (and so that I can accept) more and more of You every day. Amen.