As we finish reading the four gospel accounts of Jesus’ life and ministry, let’s pause to consider a major theme: the uniqueness of Jesus as God. In today’s reading, we see a clear statement in which Jesus reveals himself as, not merely a messenger from God, and not just the son of God, but one with God:
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 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. I and the Father are one. (John 10:27-30 ESV)
Many claim that Jesus never claimed deity, instead he told us that he was the son of God only, not God himself. But Jesus’ hearers knew exactly what he meant when he said ‘I and the Father are one’. In fact, they understood it so well they wanted to kill him! (31-33). A similar incident happened in chapter 5. There the apostle adds his own commentary, This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God. (John 5:18 ESV)
It’s blasphemy to claim that you are God… unless you are.
Why is this so important? After all, wasn’t Jesus a good teacher, a moral man, a revolutionary? Why is deity so important? C.S. Lewis helps us understand in his classic Mere Christianity:
I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: “I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.” That is the one thing we must not say. A man who said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic–on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg–or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.
If Jesus is not God then he is not the resurrection of life (11:17-27). If he is not God then he could not save the world (12:44-50). If he is not God then he is not the way, the truth, and the life. But he is God, the crucified and risen Lord, as we will see again over the next couple of days.