Sunday, May 29, 2011

I Said, “You are 'gods'”!

Reading: Psalm 82; John 10  
In John 10:31-37,when the Jews have picked up stones to stone Jesus because he claimed to be God (when He said, “I am God's Son”), Jesus quotes from Psalm 82:6. This quotation on the lips of Jesus has produced some confusion amongst those who study the Bible. Some suggest it means that Jesus is God's son in the same sense that any Jewish person would claim to be a son of God, or in the sense that any believer today would. After all, the whole quotation from Psalm 82:6 is, “I said, 'You are “gods”; you are all sons of the Most High.'” Is Jesus saying that He is the son of God only in the same sense that all of the Jewish people were considered to be sons of God? Not at all.
I continually remind our church of the following Bible study advice: When reading an Old Testament quote in the New Testament, go to the place where it is found in the Old Testament, read it in its context, understand it in its context, and then, go back to the New Testament and reread that passage with that understanding in mind. This practice will yield rich fruit in your understanding of Scripture. It will also often reveal that there are many texts which teach us the deity of Christ (the fact that He is God, YHWH), that we may never have realized until we find that Old Testament quotes regarding YHWH (Yahweh), are applied and spoken of Jesus. We must apply this practice here in John 10.
Going to Psalm 82:1-8, we discover that God is rebuking the leaders of the Jewish people. In 82:1, we have the picture of God presiding in the great assembly (the people of God gathered), giving judgment among the gods. This is a reference to the Jewish leaders, the shepherds of God's flock. It picks up on the fact that while the Jewish leaders are presiding over God's people, giving judgment, God is presiding over them, giving judgment among 'the gods'.
In Psalm 82:2-4 the leaders receive a job performance review. They have been defending the unjust; showing partiality to the wicked. Is that what God asked them to do? Is that how God rules over His people? Not at all. The Lord continues to tell them what they should be doing instead: defend the cause of the fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor; rescue the weak and needy; deliver them from the hand of wicked oppressors. Psalm 82:5 appears to be speaking of the people at large and their need for understanding or light. It speaks to the need of the shepherds of God's people to proclaim God's word which is light for the people who live in a world that is constantly being shaken. We walk by faith and must therefore be spoken to from the truth of God. The shepherds were not doing this.
That brings us to Psalm 82:6-7. Here, God is essentially firing the shepherds. “I said, 'You are “gods” (i.e. “In verse 1 of this psalm I said I give judgment among the gods, referencing you and how you are to help me shepherd my people”), you are all sons of the Most High,” But, you will die like mere men; you will fall like every other ruler.” That is to say, “You have failed miserably in your task, and you are fired! Psalm 82:8 then calls to God to rise up and judge the earth, for while God's people were called to be a light to the nations, they had fallen into the same corruption as the world. What will God do to rescue His inheritance, His people from false shepherds?
When we go back to John 10, we discover that failed leadership of the Jewish leaders is the subject of the whole chapter. In effect, John 10 is also about God firing the shepherds and replacing them with the Chief Shepherd! (Reference 1 Peter 5:4.) John 9:40-41 concludes the account of the healing of the man born blind with Jesus speaking to the Pharisees about the fact that they are guilt of blindly leading God's people. John 10 picks up with Jesus contrasting false shepherds with Himself, the true Shepherd. What defines the good Shepherd? He lays down His life for the sheep (John 10:11). The other shepherds were being paid off to oppress the needy, to defend the wicked. Not Christ, He will rule with justice.
This brings us to the the events immediately preceding the attempted stoning of Jesus. In John 10:25-30, in response to the Jews requiring that Christ tell them plainly who He is, Jesus reminds them that He has, but they did not believe, and that the very miracles he does tells them who He is, that Jesus gives eternal life to His sheep, that no one can snatch the sheep out of Jesus' hand, and that no one can snatch them out of the Father's hand; that He and the Father are one! In what sense are they one? In the sense that the sheep belong to both of them; that they both give eternal life to whom they please; that the destiny of men is in their hand. Not in the sense that they have the same goals or the same purpose. They are one in being God! The Jews understand this clearly (John 10:33).
Then, in John 10:34-35, Jesus makes an amazing claim. Quoting from a psalm that condemns their leadership as strongly as Jesus has, he takes the part in which the Jewish leaders were almost sarcastically called 'gods' (recall that in Psalm 82 there is nothing good said about how they were acting as 'gods'), and says (my paraphrase), “If the word of God in Scripture called the shepherds gods, and if the Scripture cannot be broken, then even if God had to send Me into the world to fulfill the Scripture that the leaders would be indeed gods, or God, then don't accuse me of blasphemy for telling you who I am! Especially sense the evidence of my miracles proves it!”
These are not verses which lower Jesus' claim to be God's Son to being in the same sense that God's people are His children. Rather, these verses elevate the claim to Jesus being God incarnate in order to fulfill His promise to His people!
Love the Gospel, Live the Gospel, Advance the Gospel,

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