The Elephant In The Garden Bed
John 10:31-39 MKJV Then the Jews took up stones again to stone Him. (32) Jesus answered them, I have shown you many good works from My Father; for which of these do you stone Me? (33) The Jews answered Him, saying, We do not stone you for a good work, but for blasphemy, and because you, being a man, make yourself God. (34) Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your Law, "I said, You are gods?" (35) If He called those gods with whom the Word of God was, and the Scripture cannot be broken, (36) do you say of Him whom the Father has sanctified and sent into the world, You blaspheme, because I said, I am the Son of God? (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 so that you may know and believe that the Father is in Me, and I in Him. (39) Then they again sought to seize Him, but He went forth out of their hand.
Just prior to these verses Jesus has made His famous claim: “I and the Father are One”. The Jews interpret this as a claim to divinity (v.33). Jesus replies with a puzzling quote from Psalm 82, which refers to some finite and mortal beings as “gods”.
Yet there is a strange and very deep relationship between humanity and divinity. We were made, alone of all creatures, “in the image of God” and are capable of being God-indwelt, by His Spirit, and of being transformed from glory to glory into the image of God. Such is humanity’s capacity for divinity that Jesus could be both fully man and fully God, the fullness of deity in bodily form (Colossians 2:9).
It is almost as if Christ blurs the boundary between man and God. Somehow humanity and divinity can unite seamlessly in the one Person.
Anyone can claim divinity including lunatics and charlatans – but only One has been able to convincingly demonstrate divinity – that is Christ Jesus! Not even death could hold Him! Therefore Jesus points to His works first of all when He says: “I have shown you many good works from My Father; for which of these do you stone Me?”
Jesus reminds them that He is not evil, that in fact that He does many good works, works that everyone acknowledges are from the Father.
The Jews reply that it is not for all the good deeds they stone Him, but for blasphemy: “We do not stone you for a good work, but for blasphemy, and because you, being a man, make yourself God.”
Jewish thought then was very much like Islamic thought today – where any hint of a connection between humanity and divinity is blasphemous. God is “wholly other” and inaccessible. He is Mysterious would never be plainly revealed, let alone incarnated as flesh and blood. According to this doctrine God is Holy and unapproachable and there is vast unbridgeable gulf between humanity and divinity.
But Jesus bridges this gulf, in fact almost seems to obliterate it. He is God incarnate and those who follow Him receive eternal life, become citizens of Heaven and dwell with Him as brothers and sisters. We receive His Spirit, and dwell in His heaven and will receive immortal and glorious bodies at the resurrection. The redeemed become ‘sons of God” a title to which the Jews vigorously objected as a blasphemy.
Our future state is a mystery that is still to be fully revealed but St. John gives us a hefty clue: 1 John 3:1-2 MKJV Behold what manner of love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God. Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. (2) Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be. But we know that when He shall be revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.
We shall be like Jesus and Jesus is perfectly like God. (John 1:1-3, Hebrews 1:1-3, Colossians 1:15-20, 2:9) There will be a family resemblance between you and I and the Almighty! Like God we can make moral and spiritual choices and act with authority – though in a much more limited domain. We are in His image!
The fact that the clay of humanity can bear the image and stamp of divinity was shocking to the Jews. For a man to be one with God was impossible in their thought – but was realized in Jesus, the God-Man who stood in front of them and did the works that proved it.
Jesus points to the ability of human clay to bear the stamp of God in His quote from Ps 82: “Is it not written in your Law, "I said, You are gods?" (35) If He called those gods with whom the Word of God was, and the Scripture cannot be broken, (36) do you say of Him whom the Father has sanctified and sent into the world, You blaspheme, because I said, I am the Son of God?”
In Psalm 82 God is speaking to a group of beings whom He calls “gods”:
Psalms 82:1-8 MKJV A Psalm of Asaph. God stands in the congregation of the mighty; in the midst of the gods He judges. (2) How long will you judge unjustly and lift up the faces of the wicked? Selah. (3) Defend the poor and fatherless; do justice to the afflicted and needy. (4) Deliver the poor and needy; save them out of the hand of the wicked. (5) They neither know nor will understand; they walk on in darkness; all the foundations of the earth are shaken. (6) I have said, You are gods; and all of you sons 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 in all nations.
These may be magistrates as many commentators suggest or perhaps demonic principalities and powers that influence human politics and empower wicked human agents. The demons would “lift up the faces of the wicked” by empowering their regimes. In the end these “sons of the Most High” would die like mere men and fall like one of the princes (which implies they were higher than human princes and therefore unlikely to be mere magistrates).
Jesus merely calls them “those to whom the Word of God” came – thus leaving us in doubt as to what they were, but whatever they were they were not the Father, or even the Word of god, but ones under the judgment of god, and even though God was judging them they are still described as “gods” and “sons of the Most High” -even though they are mortal in that in some sense they can ‘die like mere men”. So if finite, mortal, contingent beings under the judgment of God can still have these designations how much more than ‘Him whom the Father has sanctified and sent into the world”.
Jesus is claiming to be holy humanity, divinized flesh and blood, sanctified and sent into the world, - and the proof of this is His works: “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 so that you may know and believe that the Father is in Me, and I in Him.”
His works are a sign of the Power that indwells Jesus - “the Father is in Me”. The works are also a sign of Jesus’ relationship to the Father – “and I in Him”.
Even if they could not believe His words, they should believe the plain evidence of His deeds. Commonsense tells us that if something happen, and then it happens, there can be no denying it - even though we may not like the implications. If an elephant walks into our garden and tramples the petunias it is no use saying “but there are no elephants in Carson” because there is one in Carson now, and it is as plain as day and crushed daisies!
The elephant in the garden bed was Jesus’ miracles in the midst of the Jewish religious establishment. He was there, He was doing mighty works, and there was no denying it.