Then the Jews took up stones again to stone Him. Jesus answered them, “Many good works I have shown you from My Father. For which of those works do you stone Me?” The Jews answered Him, saying, “For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy, and because You, being a Man, make Yourself God.” John 10:31–33
Jesus fed people, healed the sick, even raised the dead. He did many good works. Why is it, then, that the Jews did not believe in Him—in fact, were downright hostile toward Him? For that matter, why are so many in our day combative when it comes to Jesus?
Refusal to Believe
As Jesus walked one day through Solomon’s porch, where rabbis often gathered to lecture their students, the Jews said to Him, “How long do You keep us in doubt? If You are the Christ, tell us plainly” (John 10:24). Jesus quite clearly met every scriptural criteria for the Messiah. He had also claimed on numerous occasions that He was indeed the promised Deliverer. The problem with the Jews’ unbelief was not a lack of evidence but a refusal to believe.
Jesus pointed this out. “You do not believe, because you are not of My sheep” (John 10:26). Why were they not His sheep? Jesus had appealed to them many times over. God hadn’t predetermined these people’s condemnation. They were not His sheep simply because they would not heed His Word.
Jesus clarified, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. No one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. I and My Father are one” (John 10:27, 29–30). At this the Jews took up stones to stone Him—the second time they had attempted to do so (see John 8:58–59). Jesus responded, “I have done many good works from My Father. For which of these do you stone Me?”
Why Are People So Upset?
We could ask people the same question today: “What exactly has Jesus done that’s got you so upset?” Humanists in our culture want to ban Jesus from the public arena. “That cross there on the hillside, it’s got to come down,” they say. “That nativity scene—we need to get rid of it.” The problem, really, is that human nature is set in a position of enmity against God.
The Jews answered, “We don’t stone You for good works but because You claim to be God.” The Jews understood that Jesus was claiming deity. They wouldn’t have picked up stones to throw at Him otherwise.
Over the months Jesus had done many things that the Jewish leaders themselves believed only God could do. The Jews knew the prophecies about the lame leaping for joy, the dumb speaking, the deaf hearing, and the blind seeing (see Isaiah 35:5–6). They knew that these miracles were the work of God—and the mark of the messianic kingdom.
“Look,” Jesus finally told the Jews, “if it’s just too hard for you to receive what I’m saying, since I’m a Galilean, a peasant, not educated in your system, then at least believe the works.” But the Jews were incensed. They sought to seize Him.
Despite the leaders’ continued resistance, many of the common people looked at the situation rationally. As they observed what Jesus said and did and, no doubt, heard Him debate the Jews, they said, “This has got to be the Messiah.” Another gospel tells us, “the common people heard Him gladly” (Mark 12:37).
Many today, like these people, will hear the Lord gladly. But others, no matter how much evidence they see, have already made up their minds to resist. Why? Well, Jesus said it: “You are not My sheep.”
In this conversation Jesus extended His gracious invitation to the Jews, in a sense, one last time. After this He left Jerusalem, and He wouldn’t return until His final week of ministry. It appears that His striving with the Jewish leaders had ended. Just as in the time of Noah, when God said that His “Spirit shall not strive with man forever” (Genesis 6:3), a person can resist God to the point of no return. And even God Himself cannot help a person who arrives at that point.
A Real Threat
Antagonism toward Jesus is a strong apologetic that He is somebody significant. No one exerts hostility toward something that isn’t a real threat. This bolsters our faith. When you are faced with opposition for the sake of the gospel, take courage. Ask the Lord to strengthen and steady you in your faith, and be fervent in prayer for those who resist the love of Christ.