W W W World Wide Web Witness Inc. Home Page Contents Page for Volume What is New
THE HEARTLAND OF THE HOLY ONE
CONFRONTING THE WORLD
THE WONDER OF IT ALL
In John 10:30, we find a simple statement. It is more important than all the radioactive resources by which the nations act as if drugged, into making means of ruining the earth. It far transcends the whole episodic history of humanity. It is nothing short of the annunciation that man is not a drifter, a piece of flotsam jettisoned while more important things were being convened and regarded. The reason, which such as Hawke and Downer seem to forget*1 in their recent and lamentable efforts at reviewing religion in affairs of State, is this: God is and has a passion for man so great that He became one of us, except for sin, and without discarding His own identity. God does not change. It is because of this that anything else can do so: for in His thought is enshrined all that has a basis and a ground for action without desolation or inconsequence.
Christ said it simply, but its results have echoed ever since, just as its pre-announcement in the Hebrew prophets gave hope to the pre-Christian world. What He said was this:
"I and My Father are one!"
Now that is a transcendent statement, that is, one above the realms and reaches of this earth; but it makes it clear that this earth is not in the least degree beyond the reach of God.
He became one of us. Jesus of Nazareth was and is, God made manifest, expressed as, translated into the form of a man, with his physical format, temptations, trials, tests and triumphal opportunities. He retained His own quality that what He became should not swallow what He eternally is, and so was without sin, but this not without enticement from the prince of the spiritual nether-lands. His power as seen in Matthew 4, in the temptation, was not to be used to make His lot easy, easier than for man, as constructed in the creation. Just as He was apart from his sin, which is not for God who made the law in accord with His own holiness, which does not change, being beyond time in Him who made time, so He was tried, and the new gulf was a trial. He would not dream of turning the stones into bread to gain an instant fix on appetites not made easy by a fasting for 40 days.
He came to be tried, being driven by the Spirit for this test (Matthew 4:1). Satan inhabited it like a ravenous lion, and was met from the lips of Christ Jesus by the written word of God, as the saints also should do, when tempted by him. Wild beasts exposed the wilderness of the test, a fitting solitude for challenge But He stood firm in spirit and plan.
God had come: no frills, not even any beauty or comeliness (Isaiah 53:2). He had come without wealth, arrived as a man, through a womb. Interested ? Of course, for this was the greatest change of format in history, from an infinite form (Philippians 2), to a finite one. Nothing else is personally infinite, and thus nothing else can change so much, but as with much, the more He changed in form, the less He changed in fact, the more in appearance, the less in reality: for even something to nothing is a change from things finite to nil, and does not match the movement from infinity to the finite in size of task and action. Here is action for those who love it!
Nor was there anything experimental in this action, for it was foretold as to the birthplace (Micah 5, Bethlehem in the hiss country of Judah being stipulated), the date (Christ the Citadel... Ch. 2*2), the tribe within Israel (Genesis 49:10, II Samuel 7, Isaiah 40:9-10, 65:9, Micah 5), even to the cry of desolation as sin and curse vicariously was borne by Christ for all who would avail themselves of His sacrifice (Psalm 22:1 cf. Joyful Jottings 25).This desolatory death, indeed, was precisely as had once been the case with animal sacrifice, which formerly was both a picture and a portent of things to come , as also the method of sacrifice, the way for the death to eventuate.
As to His slaughter, it was to be found as its procedure progressed: firstly in His being abhorred by the authorities as in Isaiah 49:7, and then by His sale by a traitor for 30 pieces of silver as in Zechariah 11:10ff., value of a plot of ground, deemed to suffice for the murderous treachery against the Maker of the heavens and the earth. With this all foretold, was likewise in the prophets His bodily resurrection (Psalm 16), and before and embracing all this, in advance in times eternal, there was shown His willingness to come for such a task of love, dedicated devotion and sacrifice as this (Psalm 40:1ff., cf. Joyful Jottings 22), and as if such things were not enough, foretold likewise was the reason for His so acting (Isaiah 52-55), the evangelical consequences (Isaiah 54-55, 60-61), results (Zechariah 11:13ff., Micah 5:3ff.), and later changes as the Gospel would reach out to this entire world (Isaiah 42:6, 49:6, Jeremiah 16:19ff.).
This last included, in a small but potent site, because originally divinely selected for testimony, the delayed recognition by a belligerent Israel of the meaning of the Messiah (Zechariah 12:10--13:1), and the spiritual restoration (as in Romans 11 likewise) of an Israel which had much suffered (as in Leviticus 26) for its long and cumulative lapse from God, together with its national restoration as in Ezekiel 36-39 (cf. SMR Appendix A), a fitting prelude to its spiritual awakening, one of the smaller range of consequences still to come, added to the panoply already pressent.
God made no experiment, for in advance, He broadcast the situation, motivation, culmination and consequence, much of it a millenium before it happened, and all of it over some half a millenium beforehand. It was more like a laboratory lesson for this world, that it might see from the handbook the assured knowledge they were being taught, so that the words and the events could be matched precisely. This 'handbook' however, it was the word of God, in need of nothing, except translation into many languages, as has been the case, for many hands to the multitudes of millions, over many years, as the divine program was fulfilled. It proceeds, as it was to proceed, to the very threshold, now present, of His return (Acts 1:7ff.,Matthew 24, I Thessalonians 4, II Thessalonians 1), to proceed differentially to gather His flock and confront the heart-flames of the rebels (Revelation 19:19, in context of His surging and sovereign return). In any experiment, you have to clean up afterwards; but this was not experiment, but demonstration, and even that, after much remonstrance (Isaiah 48:16ff., Jeremiah 17:5ff., Proverbs 1, Ezekiel 18, 33:11, Luke 19:42ff.), and many a warning (Matthew 24:1ff., 23:37ff., John 12:25, 47-50).
Here then was a deliberate design of deity for man. Here was God AS man: the pith of perfection from the place of power, rendered vulnerable in the divine exposure, making imposition on Himself that He might make exposition for man.
Here was spiritual solution in sacrificial mode. Here was man suffering for man, not conquistador conquering for glory (Matthew 20:25ff., 21:5). He came not in a Boeing 737, or a Cadillac, or its contemporary equivalent, but on the foal of an ass, as foretold (Zechariah 9:6). Here then was the man formed when God in mercy and peace was putting on that form, as one might put on an armour, but this was from within. It was NOT to protect, but the opposite, which was appostie: it was to render Him vulnerable, parallel to the sacrificial beast, a rendering for Him proper for service as sacrifice.
His gift was not for robots or visionaries of the mind, as in the painful denial of reality in Communism which ignores what each leader is, that is, the individual, making him part of a pie. It was not this dream; but He came amongst individuals AS one. He arrived for man as man, godliness AS manliness, since after all, man was originally made in the image of God, though He has tried many vicious and vain inventions, with mutable and far from beautiful intentions.
He came among man for every last one of them (John 3:15-16), just as Moses came for every last Hebrew. He was efficacious for such as would come and humbling themselves, take of this product of pity, the Gospel of the glorious God (Isaiah 53:1,10, 55:1ff.), set in the inglorious horror of the method needed to purge and pay for sin, that truth and justice and wisdom and love being met, mercy might flourish.
Never again would God so act (Hebrews 8-10), never more would the deity so become incarnate, never again so make that sacrifice, for it was both proficient, efficient and effectual as foretold from the first (Genesis 3:15). It was not for God to do more, but man to receive it (John 1:12-14). If a millionaire sends you offer of a cheque in the mail, and you dither, or wither, or let it grow old in the dust, or spit at it, or at him, then there is not really much more for him to do; but if he came to your very door with it, there would be a wonderful self-humbling on his part. Yet even then, and even if he was willing to pay your community service by doing it for you, and even indeed if he took the dismal horror of your own personal faults as if to break them in himself, then you would be amazed. But would you come and take the offer ?
God did not envisage such a situation; He did it, being competent for each part. It is amazing. Be amazed therefore that One so exalted as your Creator, so separate from sin, so sovereign in power should act in such vulnerability, enabling hatred to finds it mark that love might find its target (Hebrews 2, 4., 7-10).
How glorious is God, and how clear is the testimony of Jesus as therefore we turn to read this section of John 10, with some of its surrounds and explicit or implicit references! It is He who has invented and preserved liberty of heart and spirit for man, who has even reached down into time from eternity, to implant man as guide, governor, rescuer, saviour, so that GOD AS MAN might render all for any. He has not only envisaged this from eternity, but done it on earth. And even within eternity, He has exercised His omnipotent power to know each soul, each spirit, each person created, before the test began, before man first saw the light of day.
So has He acted in eternal competence, so that sin's pathology which does blind man, should not at all blind God. The obfuscation of folly came only to man, but not to God AS man, nor to God in eternity who foreknow all. It is not by man that man's destiny is determined, nor is it in the confusion of sin. No, it is not by sin as such, but by salvation as such, that it comes, a salvation offered in the mind of God to man, who beyond sin and seeing past its pathology, knows every man, whether this one or that be His own.
It is these whom He saves with all the reality and fluency of liberty itself, by His own wisdom overcoming the crippling of man's sight by sinfulness, and restoring in truth, in love, with neither force nor cavil, from the abundance of His desire and the attestation of reality (Colossians 1:19ff.), which is directed towards all, and consummated in some, in those who eternally He has foreknown, who will receive Him. Man He has known, each one, before any was there to be known, for as the machine is known to the inventor in many cases, before ever it is built, so the person, that unique and divinely brilliant creation, is known in its very liberty, to God, before it has ever spoiled and soiled it.
Hence is man free to fade, to fall, to be revived, to be won, to love God, through His own wisdom. Hence when He calls as in Proverbs 1:20--24, to come to Him and then find the truth entire, it is no facade but the reflection of a reality, not superimposed as if to invent a liberty not real, but expression of His findings, who knows all and whom nothing can blind. Nor is there merit in being so found, for those who He finds are seen apart from sin, and without that, there is no differentiation internally, for it is sin which makes grades of the intent of the souls of man. As created (Colossians 3:10), man is in the very image of God, and past sin's pollutions and perplexities. Accordingly, He who has made all, knows His own, where love comes, where life is restored.
It is not to please Himself differentially that He saves some, for it is His GOOD PLEASURE to save all (in the Greek, Colossians 1:19, eudokia); but yet it is to secure in liberty the fruits of love where it may be found, that He acts. He laments therefore for the lost (Luke 19:42ff., Jeremiah 48, Isaiah 48:16ff.), and for those lost in the way of life, even amid their follies, but He rejoices vastly at each one found (Luke 15:32, 15:7).
This therefore is not an aristocratic salvation, as if for those whom He selects in some inscrutable and obfuscatory way, as if there were a mystery in the PRINCIPLE of the thing; on the contrary, He denies this repeatedly as we have seen in this volume, and is clearly stated in John 3, and He affirms the result. It is this: God would, you would not. God has done what He foreknew, but this is what He has done.
God would have all; all would not have God (John 3:16-17, John 3:19). Thus every last soul is in every way responsible; and on the other hand, none of His is ever missed (John 6:44), just as none in hypocrisy will find himself, or herself celestially placed, with earthy heart still installed. It is God Himself who as Jesus Christ has come, and His own lamentations in Luke 19:42ff., and His own appeals and tenderness are brought home to all to find, to feel, to see, that God is not hard, that He does not willingly afflict the children of men (Lamentations 3:33). Nay, it is the heart of man which is hard (Zechariah 7:8-13), who even shuts his eyes whether in time or eternity (Matthew 13:15ff.), known to God; yet the thrust of the divine and effectual cure has no restriction in the mind of God, though its application finds restriction indeed in the heart of man. Where God would and man would not, love does not overpass its own bounds. His singular sovereignty surpasses all bounds of wonder, that He does not indulge Himself AT ALL, bore all, broke all, that any might come, while preserving the integrity of individuality in man, overwinging man's condition with wisdom, but not overbearing his blighted will, known to God before history held its first encampment.
What then ? As to God, He neither forces nor uses control techniques; He knocks; He invites; He implores, He regrets man's follies (as in Isaiah 48:16ff., 63:9), is afflicted in our affliction and having done all, shown His very face, having met the very disease of sin, He holds open the door, as He did in Jerusalem which would not heed, to the last (cf. Revelation 22:17). This He has done with a sublime sovereignty from a heart of love, salvaging where He may in integrity of love, applying His foreknowledge from eternity, to time, and losing none at any time, who are His own, save many (Matthew 20:28).
How safe it is to deal with God Himself; and what a glory that this Jesus Christ is God-the-sent, the Eternal Word of God, who though in the form of God, became man that through His service, we might be brought to God; and in so doing, He made God definitively manifest to man (Hebrews 1, John 14).
Rejoice therefore, you who are people of God, in the fulness of the Gospel, and let none who do not yet know God, lurk in the shadows when the light has shone and the word of God has spoken: whether in heaven or on earth, He would have ALL reconciled to Himself (Colossians 1:19ff.). Have no pity for your condition, in the end, but rather for your folly if you refuse Him who calls. He had no pity on His own condition in coming to save ("pity is hidden from My eyes" - Hosea 13:14), so that you might have pity on your own! It is God, the resurrection and the life, as we find when Christ's presence was told to Mary (John 11:28), and He is calling for you.
Let us then consider the words of Jesus Christ found in John 10, and see the stature of this same Jesus Christ who did not come to condemn the world, but to save it; and who IS GOD, so that there is no hinterland of perplexity. As it is, so He has shown it to be.
THE TEXT IN JOHN 10
Christ has been telling the people that He is the door of the sheep, and whoever enters is will go in and out and find pasture, and be saved, and that His sheep hear His voice and know Him and follow Him. There is nothing indirect as we read John 10:9,27-28.
We look now at the surrounds and significance of His great statement of John 10:30: "I and My Father are One." There are ten elements to view.
1) The Mode of Speech
He spoke with authority and not as the scribes, it was reported (Matthew 7:29). It was for this stated reason that the people were astonished as He taught for example, in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). And who has not been astonished since!
As He continued to speak, as recorded in John 10, what then do we find ?
There was no citation, but of His mind in this instance, and yet the stakes were as high as eternity, as life in it, as acceptance, as adoption as His own under His own rule and shepherding. Whoever spoke like that ? This is not the conclusion of a scholar but the ebullience of knowledge. It has assurance, directness, pointedness, finality and simplicity. In such speech, we read such things as "I lay it (His life) down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again."
That is a command of authority from the Father and Christ is regally operating in His own power, on commission, and in His own will. "I have power ... I have power," comes the refrain. "I give them eternal life," He proclaims. He has, and He gives to man. It is He Himself who is doing the giving. Indeed as in Matthew 11:27, we find this, that "all things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father. Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him."
There is a closed and intimate circuit between Father and Son, exclusive between them, and nothing can penetrate except they act jointly (parallel to John 5:19ff.). Indeed, to the knowledge of the Father none can come EXCEPT through the Son, but more than this, none can know the Father, without which there is no eternal life (John 17:1-3), EXCEPT the Son Himself WILLS that it be so.
2) The Manner of Speech
Here then is not quotation, Hear the word of the Lord ... but explanation; and the command status is perpetual, for the Messiah. As man, He is dependent; but as God He is co-active. "I and My Father are One," He declared (John 10:30), declaring not merely what was to be told (as in John 12:48-50) on perpetual commission for His life on this earth, but who was who in the deity, and the mode of their collaboration while He was temporarily on this earth (John 8:58, 17:1-3, John 16:10, 20:17). He came from His Father and He went to His Father (John 7:28, 6:57). Even there, He had power to lay down His life and to take it up again.
He was not, for example, like Jeremiah. Here we see the sinner, the man to be activated, purified, challenged, met, made a mouth-piece: he find him shrinking, advancing, given scope as required from time to time, reactive, then resilient, troubled and cast down, only in time, to revive. This was the case with that prophet. He was a called man, not resident in heaven eternally, and sent to earth sacrificially! The difference in status is infinite, though the message is still faithfully transmitted: praise God for such faithfulness.
Thus we consider such verses as Jeremiah 14:19ff., 17:14-18, 20:17ff..
"Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed;
save me and I shall be saved; for You are My praise!"
the prophet Jeremiah appeals.
"If you return,
Then I will bring you back;
You shall stand before Me;
If you take out the precious from the vile,
You shall be as My mouth.
'Let them return to you, but do not return to them..."
But with Christ, when He was challenged, the response was entirely different in character. The Lord Jesus Christ noted the works wrought through Him, and instead of making a distinction about the power and the person, He did the opposite, declaring further than this, the ground of its being so to be this: "I and My Father are One."
Here is not so much a mere message (though it is of course included) but a fact as a basis for security, a total encompassment for accomplishment, a charter not limited, for as John noted in Ch. 1:14, He was full of grace and truth as the only begotten of the Father. He divulges rather than merely announces, describes rather than merely inscribes, makes declaration as One who knows the ultimate with intimacy (cf. John 3:12), and lifts the mist to make it obvious to all, to show what is His special privilege of being, what is not known to those who have no such entry, to make decisive, authoritative and definitive revelation to man.
3) The Style of Speech
Thus His speech is revealing what is intrinsically revelatory at the personal level: "I am" and "I give" and "If God were your Father, you would love Me," as in John 10: 42, there being no gap for inferiority, diversification, detrimental elements, room for error. Thus in John 14:9, He duly declared this, "He who has seen Me has seen the Father." That, it was in answer to the request that He would show them the Father, seeing that this would suffice. The entire hunger of man for God, for meaning, for his place, purpose, for the power and purity of God, for the knowledge of holiness and the wonder of the Eternal God, this was not too much to have its answer ... in HIMSELF!
The style therefore is personally revelatory, eloquent in the exposure of divine essence in Himself, affirmatory of knowledge, as one who tells of his homeland, where he has always lived. It is intimate, it is ultimate, it is assured, knows no bounds in deficiency, nor yet boasts of efficiency, but simply exhibits the dynamic both of action and of speech: and these two, to the uttermost of power and precision, agree.
"It is My Father who honours Me," He declared decisively, "of whom you say that He is your God. Yet you have not known Him, but I know Him. And if I say, 'I do not know Him,' I shall be a liar like you; but I do know Him and keep His word," John 8:54-55. Then bounding past time to His own realm of eternity, He adds this: "Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad." In explanation, He made the simple statement, "Before Abraham was, I am."
4) The Background of Speech
The background of that utterance of His ultra-temporal eternity is to be found in Exodus 3:14. Moses was here being given commission to return to Egypt to seek deliverance of Israelites from Egyptian slavery. He had to speak both to Israelites and to Pharaoh.
Who, asked Moses, shall I say sent me ? You will tell them, said the Lord, the name "I am who I am," and that "I am has sent me to you." The rock solid, unchangeable God whose word can THEREFORE be trusted to whatever time, the I AM which is a signature name, it is this God who appears AS Jesus Christ (John 8:58), so that not only does He appropriate the name, but He gives the background for it, using the present tense, not the past, in stating that before Abraham came into existence, "I am!" and not "I was."
But again, we find Him in this very same episode recorded in John 10, making the very simple statement, not only as we have already seen, that He is the door, that those entering will be saved, that He will give them eternal life (as in I John 1:1-4, 5:12ff.), but far more: "I am the Good Shepherd," He reveals (John 10:11). He is not a good shepherd, but The Good Shepherd, the shepherd, the good one. In the full context of scripture, that is a declamatory as well as a descriptive statement, like that of John 8:58.
The context as seen, is in the order of ultimate magnitude of gift and calling for man; and it has the authority of God, and His guarantee of security and certainty; moreover both He and His Father provide it, each active, each giving assurance, the latter being greater in that, the Son being sent to the lowly life of Messiah on earth, He has humbled Himself. Yet both provide (John 10:P28-29); and He provides the information (John 10:27ff.).
Who in background, known in those days of fewer books, less learning and more intense channelling of knowledge, and more direct national direction towards the knowledge of the holy, was this Good Shepherd ? The question is crucial, the answer phenomenal.
It would be as well known as in Australia, where is the Murray River. It was, as it is, found in Ezekiel 34. There God excoriates the lazy, self-centred, profiteering, unreliable, self-serving, gross, inept, unserviceable, corrupt priests, 'shepherds' who dirtied the waters and plunged about in the pasture, and moves to the point of saying that so bad is their performance that HE HIMSELF will come as THE GOOD SHEPHERD, and personally, though deity, do the job Himself. He would bring back the straying, feed the hungry, attend to the numerous needs of the flock. Let us look in verification as Ezekiel 34:15ff..
"I will seek what was lost and bring back what was driven away,
bind up the broken and strengthen what was sick;
but I will destroy the fat and the strong,
and feed them in judgment.
"And as for you, O My flock, thus says the Lord God,
'Behold, I shall judge between sheep and sheep, between rams and goats.
Is it too little for you to have eaten up the good pasture,
that you must tread down with your feet the residue of your pasture -
and to have drunk of the clear waters,
that you must foul the residue with your feet ?'' "
Again, it is as in Hosea 13:14, when we come to the item of laying down His life that He might take it up again, and laying down His life for His sheep. Here this is what is written:
"I will ransom them from the power of the grave,
I will redeem them from death.
O Death, I will be our plagues!
O Grave, I will be your destruction!
Pity is hidden from My eyes."
Once again, as in Ezekiel 34, it is God Himself who is speaking, and here contracting by His own voluntary desire, to provide IN HIMSELF the ransom from sin and its guilt and consequence, to buy them back from death by the power and purity of His own Being, indeed to plague death, removing thus its fundamental power of judgment for sin, not vacantly or indifferently, but fervently in His own intervention and exposure itself will be destroyed, as will hell as a destination for HIS sheep, whom He knows!
Or again, when as in Matthew 21, you see Christ having come and made Himself available for salvation, as King on an ass's colt, as one "lowly and having salvation" as portrayed in Zechariah 12's prediction, the cry from the populace was this, Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! That, it was in Psalm 118, where the work of the Messiah is foretold. It is there that we find what Christ Himself cited, namely Psalm 118:22-23, that the stone which the builders rejected has become the headstone of the corner! Small wonder that the dallying, undiligent priests, daft where Christ was deft, seeking security where He was ready to die, were so upset at this transparent enaction of the welcome of God in the Messiah's form (Luke 19:39-40).
Christ's delicious answer, "I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out," is consummate in its expression of the glorious culmination: reality had come, creation could only acknowledge it, and if it were suppressed, history would react. In fact, the stones DID cry out when it WAS suppressed, in terms of Jerusalem itself being systematically destroyed, the temple, stone by stone, taken down (as foretold by Christ in Matthew 24:1ff., 23:37ff.,Luke 19:42ff.). Notice in style, the immediacy, the certainty, the scope, the authority, the assurance and the fearless exposure of outcomes by One who KNEW what would be, and in addition, KNEW WHY! In the meantime, Christ did not instruct His disciples to be quiet, and they continued to shout out, Jerusalem and its temple standing for the time, till the generation grew up, which He had met, and still did not acknowledge their Saviour. Without the Saviour, the ONLY ONE (John 14:6, Acts 4:11-12, Hebrews 8-9), just as God is the ONLY GOD (Ephesians 4:4, Exodus 20, Isaiah 44-45), calamity comes, and when He is rejected, it is invited (Matthew 22:1-14).
Thus the background, like mountains merging one upon another in ranges moving into the obscurity of great distance, comes to live and His words both illuminate and apply it, while events supply power for it, and the people find heart for it, This proceeded till the death itself occurring, the resurrection, that ineluctable invasion from beyond the vale, itself disrupted the triumph of hatred. This, following that of Lazarus, supplied the final element of the Messianic power in Person. Words and works, as always with Jesus Christ in His Messiahship, co-operated like the two hands of a man; but here, it was the hand of God.
Indeed, Lazarus was raised BY Christ, who delayed on purpose to make the testimony for the faithful, no doubt before His own demonstration of death-in-desolation to life-in-incorruption, so that all might eloquently aggregate (John 11:5-6), and faith take wings with joy.
It was again Christ who much earlier, in line with John the Baptist's declaration that here was the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29), in figurative language declared that if they killed Him, He would raise up His body in three days, causing much amazement. He in fact in terms of the temple, that if it should be destroyed, He would raise it up in 3 days; but of course, to anyone knowing the scriptures, and seeing with faith what He was to do and was doing, it was clear that the only temple to be destroyed and raised up in 3 days was that of His own body. Brilliantly, this further taught that He as sacrifice, offering Himself, would REPLACE the temple (cf. Revelation 21:22), being the very site of sacrifice, even if it was to be "outside the camp" (Hebrews 13:11-12), and the relevant prophetic meaning was this, that it was His body which itself, as sacrifice would be that of Himself as priest, offering and pardon.
So did Christ intimately, exquisitely, constantly, aptly, teach and show as He did the works, by words and witness in many phases in a jewel-like speech many-faceted, sometimes boldly direct, sometimes symbolic, at times confrontational and even abrasive (as in Ezekiel 34's divine rebuke and Christ's words in Matthew 23).
Background was everywhere, foreground came to meet it, like lovers long separated, after finding each other following a sea-voyage, coming into each other's arms.
5) The Result of Speech
When therefore Christ, in the midst of all these things, as in John 10:30, made His categorical statement, that He and His Father are One, the people had overwhelming reason to understand precisely what He meant. He was telling them clearly.
THEREFORE in this they were 100% correct, and their thoughts of stoning Him were not as outlandish as might appear, however gruesome. They were shocked to the core, outraged, appalled, and with such assumed blasphemy, they set about dealing vigorously. They were utterly right in the understanding of His clear claim; and utterly wrong in acting, like a knee reflex when it is tapped, beyond all ground, to reject what He said. The point was clear; the purpose of the response was dark as boiling tar.
It was just the same in the trial, though as the people said, what more would the Messiah Himself have to do to be indicated and vindicated (John 7:31), than this same Jesus had already DONE! Yet, for all that, the people like the authorities later, went from clear understanding of His statement in reply, that yes He was indeed the Son of God, and would come in the clouds of glory (as shown of the Lord in Daniel 7, of the Son of Man as there shown in His glory), to clamouring for the death sentence.
The reasoning in between, the evidence to underlie that reasoning, it appears not even to have occurred to them. It is sad, but sinners can be like that. We can, in a bad moment, be so self-assured that the obvious thing is done, almost as if without thought, a thing later realised to our appalled horror to be blind or woeful or superficial. How could we not have dug fast, and deep and examined further! Yet it CAN happen.
Here however it DID happen, and had been happening, not the work of a mere sudden impetuosity, but of dark and sallow, ruinous and shallow, selfish and envious murderous ruminations for years (Luke 19:47, 11:53-54, Mark 3:6, John 11:53, Matthew 27:1). It is not once that we read of their moving to plan to destroy Him! There was a movement, and at the Cross it had its long outcome. Again, it was not as it might seem: for the plotters lost both their city and their Temple, within one generation, just as Christ told of their ruin (Matthew 24:1ff., 23:37ff., Luke 19:42ff).
Just as those who wilfully and woefully denied Him, the Truth, implacably, so past their insatiable clamour and ghastly inclemency, even towards reality, all proceeded without exception as God had said, as Christ declared. It did so with just that same utterly assured, ultimately resolved certainty of God. No wonder Christ wept for them! Who would not ... though today it is more popular to seek to destroy (at one action, or by many erosions), that Israel which has yet to return as a nation, as it will do (Zechariah 12:10 - 13:1). This too will be answered in its time (Micah 7:15ff., Deuteronomy 32:36-43). It is, interestingly, WHEN HE SEES THAT THEIR STRENGTH IS GONE, that He acts. A new Pharaoh perhaps is becoming ready for the show! The Middle East seems to be hurrying to have it so.
Sin does not change. God does not change. His word is not revoked.
What then ? There was no doubt in their minds as He declared, "I and My Father are One," that He was making direct claim to deity; and as they saw it, to being equal with deity (John 10:33). FIred in unbelief, they began the way to the greatest scenes of national calamity, filled with the atrocities of Hitler, Inquisition, and now Iran and its arms of hate (cf. Micah 6).
6) The Assertion in Speech
Thus when Christ was being cross-examined by the nocturnal priestly party, as diligent for themselves and their own welfare as Christ for His people, just as shown in the prophecy of Ezekiel 34, He was asked to tell them plainly, whether He was the Christ. He told them most plainly, as in Mark 14, I AM! thus keeping both the sound of His actual name and the directness of the answer.
Similarly, in John 10:24-25, when they asked to be told plainly who He was, "If you are the Christ, tell us plainly!", His reply was not equivocal but total: "I told you, and you do not believe." What could be clearer ? We know well the type of situation. WHY did you not do/say this or that ? someone asks. I TOLD YOU! comes the clear-cut answer. So is it here: I TOLD YOU! He replies, but you did not believe. You asked ? I have told you: that is past history. YOU KNOW! Why then talk this way about it, for we both know that I have already told you, and unbelief on your part, and not lack of assertion on mine, is your problem.
7) The Analysis in the Speech
As seen in John 10:24-27, He went even further than this, as well He might! He explained that the works which He did bore testimony of Him, and what unique works they were, how often to failure, how ready for rebuttal, but failure and rebuttal, factual or verbal, never did these come! It was in one sense, like walking over the Niagara Falls on a tight rope, back and forth for 24 hours. It was sui generis, on its own, beyond nature; and it was all prediction fulfilled, specifications met, identity exposed.
Indeed with numerous multitudes being healed of all kinds of diseases, even all, there was no doubt of the wonder of His consistent triumphal healing of what He had first created, this remarkable creation call man. He understood it, knew it back and forth, up and down, its heart and mind, its soul and psyche, its woes and witlessness, its wonder and its shame.
Nor was this exuberant grandeur of power wrought in the humble dress of flesh, less than the fulfilment of a specialised prophecy for the Messiah in itself (as in Isaiah 29:17ff., and 35). It was in one respect like a secret message whereby someone in a war zone might identify a messenger, a series of tell-tale steps or objects being presented. Here Christ's self-identification was far more difficult to achieve than was the making of the atomic bomb; for that is a manipulation of matter; but here the matter is vital and much more onerous to secure.
But what of the ground for this action, other than compassion and identification of the One in whom to believe for pardon, peace and eternal life which only God can give ? Even these things, in turn, they had their own reason. What things ? Their unbelief, it was this astonishing thing which came into view, and for this too there was a reason. WHY did they not believe in view of this inexpungeable certainty of testimony ? It is "because you are not of My sheep", He declared. HIS sheep hear His voice, He stated (John 10:27-28). Known beforehand by Him, His own know Him too. This we have already seen in depth, and will see again.
It was HIS sheep which were the criterion, direct, the work of this Good Shepherd, and this was a category of wonder, those whom He would in all integrity of love, pity and mercy, redeem from the waywardness, cleanse from the spiritual sicknesses, restore to spiritual health, thus securing the outcome of the passion of His lovingkindness, from the income from His foreknowledge. The beauty of it all: none will EVER seek Him and by faith outstretched look to Him, and yet NOT be saved (Isaiah 45:22ff., John 6:37).
8) The Categories in the Speech
Indeed, there are these quite clear categories among sheep and sheep, His and not His. He IS the door, the gate through which those saved, may then go in and out as in John 10:9, and as in Psalm 118:20. You ARE His sheep or NOT His sheep (as in John 10:26). Thus there is the final declaration of categories in terms unequivocally tied to Himself, as is fitting for the One who declared that the Father was known by those to whom He willed to reveal Him, He being the Father's divinely declarative Word, eternal and infinitely intimate with His Father... "I and My Father are one."
It was so in one thing, and it was so in many: in direct things and in indirect, in submission and in assertion, in mission and commission, in decisive action in Himself and in concord, always in all things, the togetherness of eternity.
9) The Fulcrum in the Speech
Revealing Himself then as the stone which the builders rejected, as foretold (Psalm, 118), whom the Lord would elevate to the uttermost (as in Philippians 2:1-12), thus He was using these prophecies to emplace Himself in the entire scope of the divine plan of salvation, where God is the ONLY SAVIOUR (Isaiah 43:10-11), and the One who PERSONALLY would ransom from death: and He it is who PAYS the price of redemption as in Psalm 22, Isaiah 50-55.
Once you enter that blessed theme and marvel, that wonder and integrated testimony of the God of truth becoming man for our salvation, then the Old Testament prophecies become like a fulcrum, on which applying power in a relevant manner, as Christ did in both His words and works, you gain a vast increment of power and thrust. Thus many believed when they heard of His always pleasing the Father (as in Isaiah 41-42, where we find the One in whom the Father delighted, when man failed, in high contrast).
That concerning His always pleasing His Father, is found in John 8:28-30. Here indeed is the pure, the suffering, the ransoming, the redeeming, the exhibitive Saviour as sent, as shown in Isaiah 48:16ff., when God became man.
Here it is! There is the foregoing millenium of preparation in the vast number of prophecies concerning His coming; here is the outcome. It came. The time arrived as specified by Daniel (cf. Galatians 4:4, Daniel 9:24-27, Christ the Citadel ... Ch. 2, Highway of Holiness Ch. 4). It is here, testable. ANY failure to perform to divine specifications, with the knowledge of deity, the power of deity, the wisdom and the wit of deity, this would prove fatal, and would have done so very often, had He not met the standards without quiver or quaver, with indeed a certain majesty certainty, clarity and constancy. To pass constant test as a world first high jumper is one thing, and notable; but to meet divinely made specifications to indicate deity, this is another.
To be deity is so much harder, and of course, ludicrously impossible is it to secure such specifications if you do not have the totality of talent, infinite and assured, involved! God has been very careful with the data, the description, the specifications, for the building of the faith. That, because it is from Him, it will last forever, and no power, however Satanic, will ever make of it the site of the Twin Towers. Oh that America realised what she is doing with this current challenge to what remains of the faith of Jesus Christ, in that land, at the official level! Oh that this our own land, Australia, would realise what is being done at the official level, and has been done for decades now, to it. Seek meekness, seek righteousness, seek the Lord, seek truth and not fables, if so be the Lord might spare the land a while (II Timothy 4:4, Zephaniah 2:3; cf. The gods of naturalism have no go!).
God never fails; nor did He ever do so. HENCE the death sentence was the only way out for sin. God could not fail, but man both could and did, so choosing to kill the cure. It was of an infinite mercy that He bothered to be resurrected, instead of being incensed merely at their gall.
Yet in the meantime, the sentence was uttered. There being no other way for sin to continue in this absolute confrontation with absolute power (John 11:48), He was put to death; but all according to divine plan.
HENCE , this sentence, it was imposed. The marvel which gives love its lustre is this, that in RECEIVING the hideous hatred of man, Christ PROVIDED good for evil in return, pardon for odium, peace for torrid wantonry, if only ... they believed and received Him. It applies to one, it applies to all, to individual, to nation.
Their woe through His divine wit became His opportunity yet more, to show grace upon grace, and to turn evil to good ... if they believed, if only they received Him as He is, for what He has done, and relying on Him totally, and received with Him, His words (Matthew 7:15ff., John 14:21ff., 5:46), for with the Word of God, the mouth is no mean part or member!
10) The Ramifications of the Speech
In particular, there is a vital phase of the confirmation.
It is this. Christ had indicated that He was the stone rejected by the builders to become the chief corner stone as in Psalm 118:22, which He is seen to cite in Matthew 21:42. There is the same thrust of the Good Shepherd not only doing what had been left undone by elephantine hypocrites, but of dealing with the evil (Ezekiel 34:16-19). To be sure, this would become the massif in His regal return (as in Matthew 24-25), when He is seen dealing with sheep and goats among the nations; but in the application of salvation, a certain negative could be seen and outlined in the process. What if mercy is slighted, confrontation with the stone continues and the scene is set for judgment ? What indeed! Truth cannot be altered, and when mercy's sublime intervention is discarded, what is left but judgment according to truth, and in truth all men are sinners.
Thus His reference to grinding to powder was not one which He then implemented; but it was a warning, for what God has said is non-arrestable, and to reject Him in His eternal word, made flesh, is as near as you can come to inciting everlasting desolation. Where mercy is spurned, destiny is earned! (as in Revelation 20, in the two books). In time, be there no change, it comes.
Thus when, as seen in Mark 11, Christ comes to the Temple and cleanses it (11:15), there is an accompanying episode of great impact. A fig tree is seen, and though it is not seasonable for fruit, yet Christ curses it and the next day it is found withered. He tells them that this is an exhibit, for to have faith, and apply it, you can say to this mountain, go and cast yourself into the sea, and believing, gain it (Mark 11:23), The improbable is thus attainable, and even that which sequentially is impossible in the sequences of natural things, is achievable. When God acts, nothing hinders (Isaiah 14:27).
In other words, Israel was typified by the fig (every man under his fig tree is a description of bliss in its place - Zechariah 3:10), just as Australia may be, by the merino sheep. When, in the MIDST of temple cleansing as the day of His death came nearer, amid the mordant unbelief of many, and the wholesale corruption of a phalanx in authority, false shepherds, Christ found no fruit on the fig tree, and cursed it, the meaning of the curse was plain. HE, the inspector, could find no fruit on the tree that symbolised the nation. Certainly it was not the season, but in what season for centuries had true fruit been found as it should have been, on the fig tree that is Israel! This this lack at one time, spoke of the series of any seasons, in which lack was for all seasons; and now in one act, it lay so bare.
Thus the curse on the tree, it became the sign of a desolatory judgment as specified to come in Luke 19:42ff.. There is a time when judgment if necessary; though mercy seeks if a way be found, as is so often seen in the entire Bible. When it had to be faced, the time ran out, the obloquy mounted against it, the tide of untruth surged, then at last Christ wept, lamented that it be so, that judgment must come. A grief of heart it was, when so much was paid in such wonderful discipline and such woeful agony for so many ... by Himself. Yet if it was not these, whose hand would reach past the pocket to receive salvation, to find its Centre and King, Jesus Christ, the Payor, then there were those who did move it from the pocket to receive the priceless gift. The cry to the thirsty continued, found thousands, then millions, as foretold in Isaiah 55.
Here the very oneness of Christ and His father is seen in both salvation and in judgment; they work as one; they always did (cf. John 17:1ff., 8:58), always would, and this His Messiahship was ultimate, not a series: here was a splendour and a spectacular long foretold, once performed (Hebrews 9:12-10:14).
Thus truth was apt in all regards, action ripe in all respects, and one event would ramify with others, like resonances in sound, and in particular, I AND MY FATHER ARE ONE, became a call for joy, peace, confidence, the marvelling of faith and the ground of power to perform whatever He desired (as in John 14:12), in His name. There are no byways with God, for here He is face to face with man, who took the opportunity to mar it to the point it was scarcely recognisable as human (as Isaiah foretold in Isaiah 50 and 52:12ff.).
When however, man is at last brought in Christ to his abode in heaven, then scarcely recognisable will be the glory where grief and pain, evil and torment have no more place. It was worth it; and praise God that He found it so.
The following, from the coverage of the chapters found in Predestination Review, prepared for the Heptad on Predestination, may help give perspective.
Travesties and transformations of religion are like the ancient practice of making new gods, in which Israel alas excelled as you see in the divine stricture and admonition of Deuteronomy 32, from parts of which the following is taken. It is a figure in which lovers and jealousies are invoked, so that just as Israel may be regarded as an adulteress by the Lord, in being unfaithful to Him, as if a husband, so He is in image conceived as 'jealous' in a romantic figure, because they turned from God to not-God and gave this ludicrous mental construction of theirs, the worship due to the living and actual God. This being clear, we listen:
"As an eagle stirs up her nest, flutters over her young,
spreads abroad her wings, takes them, bears them on her wings:
so the LORD alone did lead him, and there was no strange god with him.
"He made him ride on the high places of the earth,
that he might eat the increase of the fields;
and he made him to suck honey out of the rock, and oil out of the flinty rock;
butter of kine, and milk of sheep, with fat of lambs, and rams of the breed of Bashan, and goats, with the fat of kidneys of wheat; and you drank the pure blood of the grape.
"But Jeshurun grew fat, and kicked:
you have become fat, you art grown thick,
you are covered with fatness.
"Then he forsook God who made him,
and lightly esteemed the Rock of his salvation.
They excited His jealousy through strange gods,
they provoked Him by abominations.
They sacrificed to devils, which were not-God,
to gods whom they did not know,
to new gods that came newly up,
whom your fathers did not fear.
"The Rock who begat you, you have forsaken, and have forgotten God who formed you."
Some current cultural ideas and presentations are considered as we move on to what the Bible actually says, and digest some of the marvels of the divine speech of Jesus Christ, recorded in John 10, with special reference to John 10:30.
ANOTHER SHEPHERD HAS OTHER SHEEP
(John 10:26, Zechariah 11:17ff., Jeremiah 23)
In articles found in The Advertiser, October 11th, and 14th., these two politicians of some note deliver themselves of views about religion which would make some sort of sense of the matter, if God were left out of it; although, even then, it would be too assured.
For this matter, and its involvement, the extent of treatment is such that it has been moved to the Appendix to Chapter 4, which follows this Chapter.
See with Christ the Citadel ... Ch. 2, also:
Possess Your Possessions Volume 4, Ch. 3, esp .*1,
with SMR pp. 886-900, pp. 943-946, pp. 959ff., for example.
with News 98, News 37.
A useful larger selection:
Aviary of Idolatry, Delusive Drift or Divine Dynamic Ch. 5,
News 37. 44, 69, 97 (the exploiters, the fanciful,
the Communists, the de-godders and the realities), 98,
News 150 - Taiwan,
The Grating Grandeur and Aggrandisement of Man,
and the Meekness of the Majestic Messiah Ch. 2
Beauty for Ashes Ch. 6 (and Hong Kong, and the movement of nations in the last century a concern),
Tender Times for Timely Truth Ch. 8;
SMR pp. 925ff., 971-972;
Beauty of Holiness Ch. 3
(war and force, rising downwards, Tiananmen and truth),
Ch. 4 (liberty, Tiananmen, worship and its direction in time, its terms and code of truth); History, Review and Overview Ch. 1,
Impossible to Men, Open to God Ch. 5
See also Lord of Life Ch. 8.