Isaiah 29:18… And in that day shall the deaf hear the words of the book,
Facing the Opposition
“Facing Opposition” John 10:23, 24
In this passage of scripture we know that the Jews were celebrating Hanukkah (a feast which celebrates the victory of the Israelites over the Syrian leader Antiochus Ephephans, who persecuted Israel), also known as “the feast of dedication.”
It was a big celebration (and still is) which celebrated the victory of Israel over this Syrian leader who conquered Jerusalem and desecrated (took away the sacredness of) the Temple by setting up a pagan (idol worshiping) alter and removed the altar of God. Antiochus had killed 40,000 Jews and enslaved another 40,000.
I think that this example (as others in the Bible) of Israel, what they celebrate, and why they celebrate should be something that we as Americans and people of the world should take note of. It is because of God’s deliverance.
Hanukkah is celebrated because of a victory that God them over opposition.
Passover is a feast or celebration if you will, over another victory that gave them over Egyptian bondage.
Here in John 10 and verse 11, Jesus announces that he is the “Good Shepherd,” and then says for the 4th time that He is “the I Am,” and states that He gives His life for the sheep in contrast to the religious leaders who abandoned their sheep in hardships (especially the widows), and then He announces His Father who loves Him and asked Him to lay down His life.
I. Many Lay in Wait to Oppose
A) Especially in celebration
Any time there is a celebration of God’s people who are rejoicing over a victory that God gave them, salvation of a lost soul, a new member in the church, a victory over sin, or whatever, you can know that Satan is nearby laying in wait to ruin the party, ruin the celebration.
This particular story is no different.
John 10:23…And Jesus walked in the temple in Solomon’s porch. Remember that this account is taking place in winter and rather cool, and thus the reason for Jesus walking in the protective eastern side of the Temple.
Satan many times will use Godly people (or those who think they are better than others) to attack God’s people as we read here in verse 24) Then came the Jews round about him, and said unto him, How long dost thou make us to doubt? If thou be the Christ, tell us plainly.
I believe that these “Jews” mentioned here did not just happen to be in Solomon’s porch and one of them just so happened to catch Jesus passing by.
I believe that this was a well thought out plan to “lay in wait” for Jesus to enter the temple and carry out their plan to attack Jesus’ character.
Jesus being God in the flesh was well aware of what was about to happen.
These Jews did not plan to gather around Jesus and pose this question because they wished for Jesus to impart His wisdom on the matter.
And they most certainly were not seeking clarity regarding who He was.
They were used of Satan to attack Jesus by getting Him to “plainly, or openly” say in front of many that He was the messiah so that they could justify their attacking Him and discredit Him.
This is how Satan works… through God’s people, at a time you think not, in a place you would think is reverenced by His people, and for the purpose of forcing you to say or do something that can ruin your testimony to others.
Satan and his minions have had over 6,000 years to practice deceit, lies, trickery, hate, upset, turmoil, and any kind of evil that would aid their cause for vengeance against God for kicking them out of heaven.
I believe that Satan’s favorite time to attack God’s children is when they are getting a victory in their life over sin, or salvation comes to their lost souls, God’s blessing recently given, when they just get married, and etc.
Satan is the biggest party killer ever.
B) Be prepared to defend the faith
Do you know why many people do not win when they face opposition? Because they do not know enough about God, His Son, His Spirit, nor the Kingdom. They do not attend church regularly and they do not come to Sunday School or Wednesday night services and are satisfied with their “snack” at the Morning Worship hour.
You cannot fill your stomach on snacking. You cannot receive the full spiritual feeding you need to maintain and fulfill a successful Christian life.
To fight Satan or anyone that opposes your faith, religion, or doctrine, you must know what you are defending.
Look at how Jesus defends those who oppose God in verse…Verse 25) Jesus answered them,
“I told you, and ye believed not:” Remind them that they have been told, and show them in God’s word what they were told.
“… the works that I do in my Father’s name, they bear witness of me.” They need to see God in you by your actions and character, the things you say and do to show that God lives inside you.
26) But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you. Show them that they are not God’s sheep when they do not have humility and a meek spirit.
27) My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: Remind them that the sheep hear their Shepherd’s voice, the Shepherd knows His sheep, and they obey His voice.
28) And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. Remind them that nothing they say or do to you will stop you from going to heaven and miss hell. The strength that you have is knowing that God keeps you “secure” in His hand, “…neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.”
29) My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. Let them know who’s sheep you are and make them realize the power of God that is “greater than all.”
30) I and my Father are one. The opposition needs to know that the Father and Son are both committed to the protection and preservation of Jesus’ sheep.
Be prepared to defend your God, your Shepherd, and your faith.
II. The Opposition and Their Defense
A) Throwing Stones
Look at John 10:31… Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him.
To “take up stones” is really a judgment of the Jews against Christ.
When anyone comes at you verbally or physically it is the same thing here in John 10:31, they are “taking up stones.”
Explaining the phrase “taking up stones,” it simply means to launch an attack or passing a sentence of “guilty” on the recipient.
Sometimes we are attacked physically or verbally by our dear brethren, our family members, or the clergy. For some reason we take it worse or are more offended when the attack comes from someone close to us because they are supposed to love us.
Truth is that we are all sinners. None perfect, “no not one” right?
No matter who throws the stone at us we must realize our sinful condition first and ask God to forgive us for judging them, then plead the cross by saying “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” If they knew what they were doing, they wouldn’t be doing it.
We need to also understand that the world immediately is against us because they feel that we are judging them all the time, and it could be true in some cases.
This is why the term “holier than thou” came on the scene to describe the feelings of a sinner who has been rebuked by a Christian.
The defense of the world is always to cast stones, to hurt others who act superior, or condemn those who make them feel less of a person or less holy.
We as Christians should not be so quick to cast stones back at them but rather love them by turning the other cheek.
B) Showing the opposition our works
Now look at verse 32) Jesus answered them, Many good works have I shewed you from my Father; for which of those works do ye stone me?
Jesus is basically saying in verse 32a, that His works (miracles, and knowledge of the Word which He wrote and is) should prove to the opposition that He is the Son of God.
When opposition strikes at us we should be able to defend ourselves with our character, attitude, habits, and works. The opposition should know that we are children of God without having to prove ourselves.
Jesus here in verse 32b “…for which of those works do ye stone me? “ is appealing to his opposition and getting them to realize that they are witnesses to His works.
Showing (or proving) that you are right is key to winning against the opposition. You do not need to argue the facts, but merely show them or get them to see the truth as it is.
In all of my personal battles with others who “can do no wrong,” it doesn’t matter how much I tried to prove my point or defend my integrity, they rode their horse of defense until it died. In their eyes I would always be wrong.
We also as Christians need to learn to defend ourselves with the word of God (The Bible.)
Look at the answer the Jews gave in verse 33) The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God.
You see, they did not hold Jesus guilty for the works that He did. They opposed Jesus and were judging Him because He claimed to be someone that they didn’t think He was.
That is exactly what the world does to us. That is exactly what many children of God claim when their sin is brought to the forefront.
These Jews said “…thou, being a man, makest thyself God.” Or in other words… “You think you are more holy than we are. You are claiming to be someone you are not.” THAT is why they were going to stone Jesus!
They were judging him for what they thought to be blasphemous.
C) The Word of God is the best defense
Look at the words of Jesus as he responds to the accusing words of the Jews in verse 34) Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods?
Jesus was probably referring to O.T. scriptures…
Psalm 82:6…I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High. This scripture is where God is calling some unjust judges “gods” and then pronounces his judgment upon them.
Exodus 7:12…And the LORD said unto Moses, See, I have made thee a god to Pharaoh: and Aaron thy brother shall be thy prophet.
Jesus was using His Father (God) as an example of how the word “god” can be related to man.
These magistrates (judges, government officials) were acting like they were gods according to the way they would pass a sentence upon the accused. They were not fair, they showed favoritism and they wielded their power upon the people because they could.
Jesus further rebukes the Jews in verse 35) If he (God) called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken; 36) Say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God?
Jesus reasoning is that if there were others whom God can address as “god” or “sons of the most high,” then why are the Jews objecting to Jesus statement that He “…is the Son of God?
Now go back to verse 35 where Jesus said “…and the scripture cannot be broken;” What does this mean? It means that scripture will always be in existence, it cannot be changed, and it is the final authority. A better way of putting it is that “scripture cannot be destroyed.”
These words were said again by our Lord in Matthew 5:17…Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. 18) For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.
Scripture is our defense, our livelihood, our authority, our sword to fight Satan with. To be without scripture would be like a warrior without armor or weapons. USELESS!
III. Believe the works
A) Believe not
Look at verse 37) If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not.
Children of God will know other children by their works.
You know a good mechanic from a bad mechanic by their works.
You know a good teacher from a bad teacher by their works.
You know a good pastor from a bad pastor by their works.
If someone claims to be a Christian and they do not act like one, then do not believe their claim.
Jesus said in this verse 37 that the works He did was the same works that His Father (God) did.
38) But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works: that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him.
Jesus is asking them to “believe the works.”
You cannot defend God if you do not believe God.
The problem with these Jews was that they were so ignorant of God that could not recognize the works being of God.
To believe something is to be completely engulfed (baptized) in it. Know it.
Jesus told His disciples in John 14:1…Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.
If you believe in God then you must believe in His Son Jesus Christ.
In closing, we need to be reminded that no matter the opposition, there will always be those who still do not believe no matter what you say or show them… 39) Therefore they sought again to take him: but he escaped out of their hand,
We can rest assured in Christ Jesus that we will escape ruination because God protects His own.