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CHRIST TESTIFIES THAT HE IS NOT GOD.
Christ, speaking of his sheep, said, “My Father, which gave
them greater than all; and none is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand. I and my Father
Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him. Jesus answered them, Many good works have I showed you from my Father; for which of these works do ye stone me? The Jews answered him saying, For a good work we stone thee not, but for blasphemy, and because thou, being a man, makest thyself God.”—John x. 29—33. As this is the only instance recorded in the Bible in which Jesus was accused of making himself God, his answer must be important and decisive. “Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, ye are Gods? If he called them Gods unto whom the word of God came, and the Scripture cannot be broken; 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 ?"— Verse 34-36.
In this refutation Jesus denies being God; denies calling himself God; and repels the accusation of blasphemy even on the supposition that he had called himself God. He denies being God, by asserting that he was sanctified and sent into the world by his Father. God could not be sanctified, nor sent; neither has he any Father. He denies calling himself God, by asserting that he had only called himself the Son of God. A father and son are two distinct
beings; nor is there any term that more strongly marks derived existence, than the term son. Besides, Jesus founds the propriety of calling himself the Son of God, not on any thing peculiar in his nature, or any supposed resemblance or likeness to his Father, but simply on the ground of his being sanctified and sent by the Father. He repels the charge of blasphemy, by appealing to the well known scripture usage, hy which they are called Gods unto whom the word of God came. So that if he had called himself God (which he had not done) it would have implied, according to his own explanation, nothing more than that he was a divine messenger -one to whom the word of God
That this is the sense in which the Jews understood the answer of Jesus is evident from the fact that they never after accused him of making himself God, though urged to do so by considerations as powerful as can well be conceived. When he was arraigned before their Council, and the accusation was blasphemy, they made great efforts to support the charge. They could not obtain the necessary evidence. After they had suborned witnesses, all they could prove by them was, that he had said he could raise up the Temple in three days. Now if Jesus had ever made himself God, or intimated any desire to be considered as God, it is incredible that they should not have urged it against him at a time like this. This would have been the very evidence they felt themselves so much in need of. When they were ready to seize on every circumstance, however trifling; and were driven to extremities, to obtain witnesses to support the charge of blasphemy, it is incredible, I say, that they should not have availed themselves of such an advantage. It is as certain, then, that Jesus never made himself God, as it is that the Jews did not urge it against him at his trial.
Let us suppose the same Jews who accused Jesus of
making himself God, had heard other Jews, who were not present when he confuted their charge, complaining that they had heard him call himself God: would they not have been likely to answer them somewhat in the following manner ? “We ourselves once thought we heard him call himself God; and we accused him of it, and threatened to stone him. But instead of acknowledging it, he denied it; and convinced us that we had accused him wrongfullythat he did not call himself God, but simply the Son of God, whom the Father had sanctified and sent." Again, had these same Jews, whom he had thus convinced, afterwards heard him actually call himself God, would they not, must they not, have understood him to mean nothing more than, that he was one to whom the word of God came? Yet astonishing as it may seem, his answer and explanation, which perfectly satisfied his enemies, does not appear to have satisfied his friends; nor to have restrained them from repeating the same charge which he refuted, viz. that he, being a man, made himself God.
Let us suppose a royal Missionary to be sent to a foreign land, to publish a most important doctrine. The Missionary is perfectly acquainted with all the difficulties and dangers
of the mission. He foresees all the opposition he must meet, and all the hardships he must encounter, before he undertakes. A satisfactory reward being offered, he cheerfully engages in the work. Having arrived at the field of his labor, he opens his commission, exhibits his credentials, and enters upon his work. He preaches the true doctrine of his mission. His hearers perfectly understand his meaning, but they dislike the doctrine, and vehemently remonstrate against it. They accuse him of holding and preaching a doctrine in the highest degree absurd and blasphemous. Finally they severely threaten him, in case he does not retract what he has said, and abandon his position. He now
comes forward in self-defence, and assures them that they have mistaken his meaning - that he did not intend to be soʻunderstood. He explains himself in a sense wholly different from that which they had conceived, and the offensive doctrine entirely disappears. They admit the explanation, and never after accuse him of preaching the offensive doctrine.
Now what should we think of such a missionary? Should we not think that he had violated the high trust reposed in him, in the most unjustifiable manner? Should we not think, and justly too, that he had made complete shipwreck of his mission? Yet such a Missionary, according to the doctrine of Trinitarians, was the Lord Jesus Christ. He came from heaven to earth to publish a revelation from God. The most important part of this revelation, says the Trinitarian, is the doctrine of the Trinity. Jesus came, then, to preach the doctrine of the .Trinity. He proclaimed the object of his mission, and entered upon his work. He preached the doctrine of the Trinity. He made himself God. His hearers clearly comprehended his meaning, but they disliked the doctrine. They accused him of blasphemy; and finally they threatened to stone him. The situation in which Jesus now appears is full the most thrilling interest He has published the fundamental doctrine of his mission; and it is rejected. For preaching the truth his life is threatened. Now what ought he to do? What can he do? That he should dissemble is incredible. That he should be intimidated, if he is God, is impossible. If he answers for himself at all, he must, unquestionably, confirm the doctrine of his mission. If he preached what his hearers accused him of preaching, he must now confirm them in the belief they had expressed. He must leave them fully impressed with the following sentiments. “ You understand me to say that I am God. In this you are correct. This is the true doc
trine of my mission. I shall, therefore, continue to publish it, whatever be the consequences. You may call me a blasphemer; or you may stone me. All this, and more than this, I expected before I came into the world. . I knew, from the beginning, what was in man; and what opposition I should excite by telling you the truth. You may never have another opportunity, so favorable, of hearing this great and important doctrine from my lips.” But how essentially different was the course Jesus pursued. He confuted them absolutely. He answered them in such a manner that the doctrine of the Trinity entirely disappeared. He left his captious hearers so fully convinced that he had not made himself God, that they never again accused him of it; notwithstanding they were urged to do so by the most powerful motives, connected with the circumstances of his trial already mentioned.
In reviewing this subject it appears that the Jews had no just cause to accuse Jesus of making himself God. He had said, I and my Father are one. He did not say one nature, one essence, one being, or one God. A Father and Son are two distinct beings. Christ is assuring his disciples of their safety. He calls them his sheep; and says, neilher shall any man pluck them out of my hand. As additional security he adds, My Father who gave them me is greater than all, and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand. He here declares the Father to be greater than all, consequently, greater than himself. If the sheep had not belonged to the Father before they belonged to Christ, the Father could not have given them to him. If the Father were not greater than the Son, his care of the sheep would have added nothing to their safety. I and my Father are one, means one in the business of watching over and protecting the sheep. Paul and Apollos are one. The husband and wife are one. All Christians are one. Jesus