22At that time the Feast of Dedication took place at Jerusalem. It was winter, 23 and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the colonnade of Solomon. 24 So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.” 25 Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness about me, 26 but you do not believe because you are not part of my flock. 27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.” 31 The Jews picked up stones again to stone him. 32 Jesus answered them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you going to stone me?” 33 The Jews answered him, “It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you but for blasphemy, 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 them gods to whom the word of God came—and Scripture cannot be broken— 36 do you say of him whom the Father consecrated and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’? 37 If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me; 38but if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.” 39 Again they sought to arrest him, but he escaped from their hands. 40 He went away again across the Jordan to the place where John had been baptizing at first, and there he remained. 41 And many came to him. And they said, “John did no sign, but everything that John said about this man was true.” 42 And many believed in him there.
Roni and I enjoy reading the novels of Evelyn Waugh, the British novelist from the early/mid twentieth century. We’ve recently been reading the fascinating biography of his family by Evelyn’s grandson, Alexander Waugh. One of the troubling things the biography reveals is the odd relationship between Evelyn’s father, Arthur Waugh, and Evelyn’s older brother, Alec.
Evelyn was given a girl’s name because his mother was sorely disappointed that she had another boy when what she wanted was a girl. He was dressed in girl’s clothes early on and his brother referred to him as “It.” He was the younger of the two boys. While Evelyn would go on to establish the most famous name and literary legacy, he was not the most famous son in his home. He was second to Alec in every way, including parental affection.
Alec Waugh was the favorite, particularly of his father Arthur. In fact, it would be safe to say that Arthur developed an unhealthy and, truthfully, a weird fascination with his oldest son. He felt that they had developed a supernatural connection and could communicate telepathically. He maintained a smothering and obsessive relationship with his son Alec while the boy was off at school and on throughout his life. “Dear Boy,” he wrote, “I am sure there is some spiritual relation between you and me which transcends the merely material world,” he wrote Alec. “There must be something super-natural in such a tie,” he wrote to his son on another occasion.
This was a bit awkward, but then Arthur’s affections for his son Alec began borrowing from traditional Christian language and moved, I believe, into the realm of blasphemy. When Alec got in trouble at school, his father attempted to empathize with him. “The nails that pierce the hands of the Son are still driven through the hands of the Father also,” he wrote.
Arthur began to think of himself as being like God the Father and his son, Alec, as being like God the Son. He wrote:
“There is a rare sort of crucifix found in one or two Gothic cathedrals in France, in which behind the figure of the Son, as he hangs upon the cross, is vaguely to be discerned the figure of God the Father also. The nails that pierce the Sons hands pierce the Fathers also: the thorn-crowned head of the Dying Saviour is seen to be lying upon the Fathers bosom. And it is always so with you and me. Every wound that touches you pierces my own soul also: every thorn in your crown of life tears my tired head as well. Be sure of that, as you are also sure (for you must be that) that when your hour of redemption comes, the first to share it will be the father who has never doubted or given way. God bless you Billy.”
This is all very strange and uncomfortable, not least of all because it assumes a relationship between earthly fathers and sons that goes beyond the boundaries of realism and appropriateness. To be sure, we she be close to our parents and to our children. To be sure, there is a kind of family bond that goes beyond mere blood. We do, for instance, emphasize deeply and profoundly and spiritually with our parents and our children. But at the end of the day, we are still aware that we are not our father or mother or son or daughter. They are other than us, though we are connected blood and by love.
To put it another way: we cannot say “I and my Father are one” in the same way that Jesus can say this of His Father. In the latter half of John 10, this is precisely what Jesus says: “I and the Father are one.” What He meant by that astounded His first hearers, just as it astounds us.
Let us consider this morning the ways in which God the Father and God the Son are one.
I. The Son is One With the Father in What He Does (v.22-25,30-33)
We begin by seeing that the Son’s oneness with the Father is a functional oneness. They are, in other words, one in what they do. Our text begins:
22At that time the Feast of Dedication took place at Jerusalem. It was winter,
It is interesting that the gospel notes the time of year: “It was winter.” This is interesting because the gospels don’t often reveal these kinds of interesting atmospheric details that we modern people like. This has led some people to read into this statement a spiritual meaning. Some see this as a commentary on the coldness of the Jews’ response to Jesus or to the general hardness of their hearts. Maybe, but, then again, it could just mean that it was winter!
Regardless, Jesus once again finds Himself the center of attention and controversy:
23 and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the colonnade of Solomon. 24 So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.”
Here it is again, the reoccurring question. They have asked it before and Jesus has demonstrated the answer time and again. What He has not done, though, and what He refuses to do is allow them to reduce Him and pigeon-hole Him into manageable categories that would reinforce their assumptions about what they think they understand about God. He is not being obstinate. He simply will not answer them on their terms because their terms are frankly part of their problem. They must begin to see God as He is, not as they wish to manage Him.
Jesus answers their question by appealing to His oneness with the Father in what He does.
25 Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness about me,
30 I and the Father are one.” 31 The Jews picked up stones again to stone him. 32 Jesus answered them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you going to stone me?” 33 The Jews answered him, “It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you but for blasphemy, because you, being a man, make yourself God.”
We will be returning to verse 30 each step along the way this morning: “I and the Father are one.” It is a foundational verse, the hub around which all the other truths of our text this morning rotate. Andreas Kostenberger has rightly called John 10:30 “the first major climax in John’s Gospel” (with John 19:30, “It is finished!” being the second).
Jesus’ oneness with the Father is a functional oneness. The Son does what the Father does. The Son can only do what the Father does (John 5:19-20).
This means, then, that Jesus is not some mere representation of some limited aspect of the Father. On the contrary, Jesus explains the Father in and through what He does (John 1:18). If, in other words, you would like to know what the Father is like, look at what the Son does.
When the Jews seek to stone Jesus, He asks them for what works of His they are stoning Him. They respond that they are not stoning Him for His works, but for blasphemy.
There is irony here. We might appropriately get at what is happening here if we summarize this conversation like this:
“Who are you, Jesus?”
“I healed a blind man. Who do my works say that I am?”
“Stop playing around. Who are you?”
“I am not playing around. I am the one that does the work of the Father. I and the Father are one.”
“We’re going to kill you!”
“For what, the works that reveal my oneness with the Father?”
“No, not for the works, but for your words claiming to be one with the Father.”
“But My words are proven by My works. My works reveal who I am.”
“We don’t care about what you’re doing. We care about who you claim to be.”
It is a sad irony, tragic really. Once again, they demand an answer they refuse to accept! Jesus is one with the Father in what He does.
II. The Son is One With the Father in Who He Loves (v.26-30)
Not only that, He is one with the Father in who He loves. You will remember that Jesus fleshed out this wonderful image of the shepherd and the sheep in the first half of John 10. Now He returns again to the theme:
26 but you do not believe because you are not part of my flock.
To begin, Jesus reveals to these protesting Jews that the reason they cannot get it is because they do not belong to the people of God. They “are not part of my flock.”
Sometimes you have to be a part of something to understand it. Every region of the United States, for instance, has its own particular customs. I had never, for instance, eaten a tamale until I moved to Arkansas. Earlier this year, Bruce Martin took me downtown to Doe’s and put a tamale in front of me. Now, I get it. Tamales are awesome! But until that moment, I didn’t get it. It wasn’t part of my experience or my identity. It wasn’t part of who I was. So until that moment I would have listened to a conversation on the glories of good tamales with a kind of confused bewilderment. I was not equipped to have the conversation until I had had the experience.
Of course, the Kingdom of God is eternally more significant than something like tamales. But the principle stands. These who sought to kill Jesus could not understand because they refused to experience Christ for themselves. They refused to embrace Him as their own. “You do not believe,” He told them, “because you are not part of my flock.”
Those in the flock get it perfectly well!
27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.”
The Son and the Father are one in the object of their affections. They love the sheep and the sheep cannot be harmed in their fold. “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.”
This is a beautiful display of the Savior’s sovereign hold upon His sheep, as well as of the sheep’s sweet security in the Savior. “No one will snatch them out of my hand.”
The hand of Jesus is nail-pierced, but it is stronger than any other force. Once you are in its grasp, you are forever secure. Jesus holds His people in His hand.
Notice, though, that Jesus speaks of “my hand” in verse 28 then of the Father’s hand in verse 29. In verse 29, He says, “and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” Once again, we see that Jesus and the Father are one. They are one in who they love and they are one in the security they grant to the people of God.
If you are a child of God, you are in the hands of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13-14). You are triply-gripped by divine love. The padlock of grace has one lock, but it is reinforced three times over.
The Father and Son are one in their love. This also raises a particular challenge for the church and for you and me as individual Christians. If the Son and Father are united in their love, should we not also be united in loving those they love? If, in other words, some person is loved by the Lord Jesus, should they not also be loved by us? And who do the Father and Son love: the whole world. “For God so love the world that He gave His only begotten Son…”
So, too, we must love the world. We must love all who live just as Jesus does the very same. He and the Father are united in who they love. Let us be united with them.
III. The Son is One With the Father in Who He Is (v.30,34-38)
Ultimately, however, these shared attributes arise from a shared essence. There is an ontological oneness between the Father and Son. The Son is not the Father or the Spirit. The Father is not the Son or the Spirit. The Spirit is not the Father or the Son. The members of the Trinity are not one another. They are three, but they are three-in-one. The Father is God. The Son is God. The Holy Spirit is God.
This is the beautiful mystery of the Trinity. When Jesus says, “I and the Father are one,” He is not only speaking of a unity of function and focus. He is also speaking of a unity of essence and attribute.
This is where, to go back to the very beginning of this sermon, we find something wholly unique and distinct about the relationship of the Father and the Son. It is something that is reflected, of course, in human relationships. We are, after all, created in the imago Dei, the image of God. But while human beings can reflect the love that the Father and Son and Spirit have for one another, it still remains that human beings are separate beings. While they share in the common experience of “being human,” they do not do so in the same way that the members of the Trinity share in “being God.”
The Father, Son, and Holy Ghost share in deity in ways that we cannot imagine. This thought enraged Jesus’ audience and they chafed under the idea. Jesus used the Psalms to refute the charge of blasphemy:
34 Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I said, you are gods’? 35 If he called them gods to whom the word of God came—and Scripture cannot be broken— 36 do you say of him whom the Father consecrated and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’?
Jesus quotes Psalm 82:6 in which the people of God are referred to as “gods.” This is an interesting verse. It likely means that the Judges of Israel, or the leaders, or the people of God to whom the Word of God came were called “gods” here in the sense that they had received and were therefore carriers of God’s Word. In that sense, then, they are referred to as “gods.” The Bible, of course, does not mean that the Jews were literally gods. It was an honorific term denoting their unique relationship before God and the privilege of their receiving the Law.
Jesus’ point is simple and interesting: if the Law of God refers to the people of God or some group within the people of God as “gods” by virtue of their being recipients of the Word of God, then how exactly was He, Jesus, blaspheming when He, the Word of God, called Himself the Son of God?
He then reveals something wonderful and mysterious and beautiful about His relationship with the Father:
37 If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me; 38 but if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.”
If they believe, then they will understand that “the Father is in me and I am in the Father.” Their relationship, with that of the Holy Spirit, is one of mutual love and unified will.
At this point, I believe an idea that some of the Greek Christians have passed down can be helpful to us. They have spoken of the Trinity in terms of “perichoresis,” and they have pointed to John 10:38 in doing so.
Perichoresis is the idea that the members of the Trinity – the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost – do not stand in a static, unmoving relationship with one another. Rather, there is what some of the church fathers have referred to as a mutual interpenetration of the members of the divine Godhead. There is, in other words, a kind of mutual, harmonious, dance. The Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are moving together in a wonderful, graceful, motion of shared will, shared love, shared intent, and shared power.
There is a motion to Jesus’ words here: “The Father is in me and I am in the Father.” There is a divine reciprocity here. There is a harmony here, a kind of rhythm here.
What an amazing picture! The works of the Son and the love of the Trinity and creation itself all spring out of this divine dance and harmony. Again, it is an amazing picture! But here is something even more amazing: you and I, by God’s grace, through repentance faith, can enter into the contours and motions of this divine dance. This is not to say that we become divine. This is simply to say that we are invited into this kind of love. We are invited to live our lives in step with the steps of the three-in-one Godhead.
As we learn the movements of this dance, we are then privileged to be able to invite others to share in it as well. Evangelism is simply an invitation for others to join with us in the rhythms of God’s great name and God’s great power and God’s great love.
Do you see? Do you see the love of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit? Do you see how they love one another? Do you see how they love you?
Ah, do you see the energy and motion and power of the divine Godhead? Do you understand that we only make Christianity boring by a sheer effort of will? Christianity becomes boring only when you and I are boring. In and of itself, this gospel and this truth is the most fascinating, gripping, appealing, amazing truth in the world!
This morning, we invite you to come to the Father, through the Son, in the name of the Holy Spirit.
We invite you to come and experience the amazing love of our amazing God.