At this, the Jews again picked up stones to stone Him.
I. LOOK AT THE GREATNESS OF THE DANGER. The perils of a stupid, helpless, defense-less sheep are really but a feeble illustration of the perils besetting the Christian. We never do properly comprehend those perils. Even as it is the shepherd and not the sheep that really knows the perils of the sheep, so it is Jesus and the Father of Jesus who really know the perils of the Christian. Well is it that we know not all our perils. A perfect knowledge of them might only increase our misery without diminishing our peril in the least. We are to learn the greatness of our peril in an indirect way. We have to learn it by the provisions that have been evidently made. Jesus provides against perils that we appreciate very imperfectly; and perils we make a great deal of, he treats as passing inconveniences. The full power of Heaven is engaged for our safety; that alone should show us the greatness of our danger.
II. LOOK AT THE PLEDGE OF SAFETY. It is not a pledge of devotion and attention merely; it is a pledge of absolute safety. It lifts shepherd and sheep alike into a region where no wolf ever wanders, where no thief breaks through nor steals. It is the defense that comes from being in a totally different sphere of life. Those on board a ship in mid-ocean are perfectly safe from the fierce and mighty sharks that swim all around; safe so long as the ship is safe; safe so long as they keep on board; but let any of them come into the water, and the sharks snap them up at once. But if these same people are on land, they can go wherever they like and have no fear of the shark; they are utterly removed from his element. Each element has its own peril and its own safety. But those who have put themselves into the hand of the great Shepherd, the only Shepherd truly good, as uniting faithfulness with ability, are in an element where all the essentials of life are safe. The intent of our heavenly Father is, not that we should be delivered from dangers when they actually come upon us, but that we should rise into a sphere where dangers will not really come. Observe exactly how Jesus puts it both with reference to his protection and his Father's protection. He does not say that he or the Father will pluck his sheep from the clutches of any foe that may seize them. He goes further than that: the foe is not to pluck the sheep out of the Father's hand. - Y.
Then the Jews took up stones again.
I. HIS RELIGIOUS OPINIONS. The Jews took up stones merely because Christ had proclaimed a doctrine which was in conflict with their opinions, prejudices, interests and pride. This intolerance has been rampant in every age. It cannot now inflict physical suffering, but it employs means more subtle and powerful to wound the supposed heretic. Such conduct is —
1. Most absurd. Such are the constitutional differences in minds and educational processes that it is almost impossible for two persons to have exactly the same view of the same subject. The inevitable diversity is interesting and useful; it stimulates discussion and promotes thought. Were all to think alike how monotonous would be the social life of the world!
2. Most arrogant. There is no greater audacity than for an individual or a Church to attempt to bring all men's opinions to one theological standard. Who were Luther, Calvin, Knox, Wesley that men should be bound to accept their opinions? "Jesus I know, and Paul, etc." Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind."
II. HOWEVER EXCELLENT HIS LIFE MAY BE (ver. 32). Numerous were the works of Christ, and all to bless men both in body and soul. "He went about doing good." This was not denied, but tacitly admitted, and yet though they knew that He was their greatest Benefactor, and that His character was one of exemplary excellence, because His doctrine clashed with their opinions they stoned Him. Good men here in England are stoned for their opinions, not with flint or granite, but with slander and social influences. Bigots of all sects throw stones at men, not because they are not good, but because they are not of their sect (ver. 33). We stone thee because Thou art not one of us.
III. HOWEVER STRONG THE ARGUMENTS IN THEIR FAVOUR (vers. 34-36). Christ seems to say that even in the assumption that He was no more than man there was no blasphemy. Their law called magistrates "gods" (Psalm 32:6). And if they allowed that, what blasphemy was there in Him who "was sanctified by the Father," "One with the Father," and who, as they were bound to acknowledge, performed works which those whom their law called "gods" never had accomplished and never could? If your Scriptures call men gods "unto whom the Word of God came," surely there can be no blasphemy in Me representing Myself as God, who am the "Word of God" itself. The argument is a minori ad magus. In what respect?
1. From those blameworthy judges and their lofty title to Christ.
2. From those who derived their dignity from the Mosaic institution to Him whom God hath sanctified.
3. From those to whom the Word of God did but come, to Him who was the Word of God. But His argument went for nothing, although it was so clear and conclusive. Conclusion: What an accursed thing this religious intolerance is! Absurd, arrogant, cruel, regardless of moral excellence, dead to argument, alive only to what it deems heresy.
(D. Thomas, D. D.)
The Scripture cannot be broken.I. THE GRAND PRINCIPLE ASSERTED. It is impossible to shut our eyes to the fact that a teaching is gaining ground whose fundamental principle is opposed to this, and which affirms that the Scripture can be broken. It is of the first importance that we should distinctly understand the amount of authority which is due to the Bible. The Romanists say that tradition is of co-ordinate authority with the Bible; the Rationalists that only part of the Bible is authoritative, and what portions are to be received as such is determined by the "verifying faculty." When Christ endorses, as He does in the text, the Old Testament, these philosophers affirm that He was liable to mistake, and so overthrew His prophetic office and nullify His mission, which was to "bear witness to the Truth." But turn from theory to fact, and we find that Christ's affirmation is proved.
1. From the history of the Jews, who from their first settlement as a nation down to the present moment show in all their vicissitudes that the Scripture cannot be broken.
2. From the fate of heathen nations. Nineveh, Babylon, Tyre, and Sidon, etc., verify the predictions to the very letter.
3. The life of our Lord, every detail of which from Bethlehem and Calvary was detailed beforehand, and occurred "that it might be fulfilled."
II. THE BASIS ON WHICH THE PRINCIPLE RESTS.
1. That man's word may be broken. Why is it that friends and relatives in the slightest business transaction have a legal and written form?(1) Because man is changeable. That which he honestly and determinately promises today he may see reasons to change tomorrow, or he may change from simple fickleness.(2) Man is sometimes unfaithful, and deliberately false to his engagements.(3) Man is often unable to fulfil his promises and obligations, however willing he may be.
2. That for contrary reasons God's word cannot be broken.(1) God is unchangeable. "His counsel shall stand."(2) God is faithful. God is not a man that He should lie.(3) God is able. These points are well illustrated in the promise to Abraham.
1. For comfort.(1) To the Church. In every age God's people have been depressed by the taunt, "Where is the promise of His coming?" But God takes time to fulfil His word. Be patient, it cannot be broken.(2) To the individual believer. He has delivered in six troubles and He will deliver in seven. Past promises fulfilled are assurances that His word cannot be broken.
2. For warning. Though God's threatenings be long delayed for merciful reasons they will assuredly be fulfilled.
(Cannon Miller.)I. WHAT IS MEANT BY SCRIPTURE? The Old Testament as accepted by the Jews of our Lord's Day.
1. This fixes the canon of Scripture for Christians and excludes the apocrypha.
2. This stamps the Old Testament with a Divine authority, against which it is infidelity and blasphemy to protest.
II. HOW DID CHRIST DEAL WITH SCRIPTURE?
1. He was zealous in fulfilling it. In looking at Christ as our example this is to be observed. Scripture declares what Christ would be and do and suffer, and all this He was and did and suffered "that the Scriptures might be fulfilled." It tells us too what we must be and do and suffer, and in order to these we must follow Christ, and in the earnest eager spirit in which He saw that no jot or tittle of the word concerning Him was broken.
2. He submitted to it. The only man capable of judging for Himself always submitted His judgment to the written Word.(1) As the servant of God He came to do God's will; but that will was not God's secret will, but His will as declared in the Bible.(2) He submitted to that will without question, and with the utmost joyfulness.
III. THE USE CHRIST MADE OF SCRIPTURE.
1. As a weapon against His enemies. To the devil in the wilderness He said, "It is written," and to the Sadducees about the Resurrection (Matthew 22).
2. As His authority. When He drove the money changers from the Temple, His only warrant for doing so was "It is written." On the same grounds He defended His disciples for plucking corn on the Sabbath.
3. As the court of final appeal in different questions (Matthew 19).
4. As His inspiration for suffering (Luke 13).
5. As a consolation in trials.
(J. W. Reeve, M. A.)
If I do not the works of My Father, believe Me not.
I. WORKS OF MERCY AND LOVE, and this without exception; the seeming exceptions when fully examined are seen not to be really so. Consistently and continuously He went about doing good. All succeeding time has acknowledged the influence of heavenly love which eighteen hundred years ago was manifested. Charity has ever taken her lessons from it. He was merciful as His Father was merciful; and His mercy on the diseased bore witness then, as His mercy on the sinful bears witness now, that He and the Father are one.
II. WORKS OF WISDOM. His contemporaries confessed as much — "Whence hath this Man this wisdom, etc." His works were performed at the right time, in the right way, on the right persons. He made no mistake in His diagnosis, in His prescription, in His application of His remedies, nor in the result. The cleverest men fail in one or other of these circumstances. It is the same now with His administration of His providence, and the pardoned sinner and the comforted saint alike are constrained to say, "Thou hast done all things well." Of whom can this be said but of Him who, being "the wisdom of God," could say, "I and the Father are one."
III. WORKS OF POWER. Divine love, as exhibited on earth, can, in a measure, be imitated, and Divine wisdom as taught on earth, can, in a measure, be communicated and received. But "power belongeth unto God." This power was demonstrated by Christ. He was no Divine instrument as were the miracle-working prophets. There is a Divine independence and originality about all His operations. "I say unto thee arise." And the power that made men walk in apostolic days was the power of Jesus of Nazareth, and the power which now heals the decrepitude of sinful man is His. Conclusion: This testimony to the mutual onebeing of Father and Son (ver. 33) is —
2. Hence our responsibility.Without this evidence men are guiltless, for they are not unbelieving, but ignorant. But with this evidence before Him, for a man to refuse to believe in Christ's Deity, and to decline to submit to His claims, is morally fatal.
(J. W. Burn.)
I. WHAT MEN MIGHT LOOK FOR IN THE WORKS OF GOD.
II. THAT THE WORKS OF JESUS WERE MARKED BY THESE CHARACTERISTICS.
1. Water made into wine.
2. The miracles of healing.
3. The resurrection of Lazarus.
4. His own resurrection.
III. THAT NOT TO SEE THESE FEATURES IN THE WORKS OF JESUS IS TO BE BLINDED BY PREJUDICE. As in the case of the Jews.
IV. THAT TO REJECT THE DIVINITY OF HIM WHICH DID SUCH WORKS IS THE HEIGHT OF FOLLY. We judge of the nature of a creature by its works. When we see a bird's nest we know that it was not made by a horse; when we see an ant hill we know that no lion threw it up; as we contemplate a building or read a book we have evidence of the work of man. But what creature can give sight to the blind, life to the dead? etc.
(Archbishop Trench.)e.g.? If so, then there is nothing left to argue about, for Christianity itself is gone (1 Corinthians 15:14, 13). And if this conclusion be objected to, we must reply that our Lord's credit and honour were entirely staked upon this issue (Matthew 12:39, 40) But the Resurrection was attested by evidence which must outweigh everything except an a priori conviction of the impossibility of miracles, since it was attested by two hundred and fifty persons (1 Corinthians 15:6). As to a priori objections, St. Paul would have argued, as most Theists, and even Rousseau have argued, that they cannot be urged by any man who believed seriously in a living God at all. But on the other hand, if the Resurrection be admitted, it is puerile to object to the other miracles. As compared with them, that occurrence has all the force of an a fortiori argument, and are fitly complemental incidents of a history in which the Resurrection has made it plain that we are dealing with One in whose case an ordinary experience of the limits and conditions of human power are altogether at fault. But if the miracles of Jesus be admitted in the block, as they must be by a "rational" believer in the Resurrection, then they point to the Catholic belief, as distinct from any lower conceptions respecting the Person of Christ. They differ from those of prophets and apostles, in that, instead of being answers to prayer granted by a Higher Power, they manifestly flow forth from the majestic life resident in the Worker. And instead of presenting so many "difficulties" which have to be surmounted or set aside, they are in entire harmony with that representation of our Saviour's personal glory which is embodied in the Creeds. St. John accordingly calls them Christ's "works," meaning that they were just such acts as might be expected from Him, being such as He was. They are like the kind deeds of the wealthy, or the good advice of the wise; they are like that debt of charity which is due from the possessors of great endowments to suffering humanity — Christ as Man owed this tribute of mercy which His Godhead had made it possible for Him to pay to those whom (such was His love) He was not ashamed to call His brethren.
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