In the first part of this article, we looked at a situation where Jesus was about to be executed (before it was time for Him to lay down His life) by a group who believed that He was blaspheming God. In fact, Jesus’ claims to be God were true, exonerating Him from the charges, but yet He led with a question about His good works (see John 10:31-33). Why did He talk about His works, in response to accusations about His divine nature?
I think that at least part of the reason was that the miracles that Jesus performed attested to the truth of this bold statement about being God (see John 10:37-38, a few verses later). In addition, God the Father validated the truth of Jesus’ statements about being the Son of God in multiple other ways, from speaking at Jesus’ baptism and transfiguration, to raising Jesus from the dead. However, for the general public who may not have seen these signs, the healing work that Jesus did for others, combined with His message, was visible evidence of His oneness with God the Father.
Note the hierarchy here: Jesus’ good works did not make Him divine. He was already God, so His actions, teachings, and miracles resulted from His divine nature, even as it also confirmed these things for those who saw (or heard about) them.
No human being other than Jesus can claim to be God. Despite implying as much sometimes, through our pride and selfishness, we are not gods of the universe.
However, while followers of Jesus learn from Him that they are not God, we do know the truth (and they know Jesus, who is the Truth, as He explained to the apostle Thomas – see John 14:6). In parts of the world, this claim results in the execution of Christians, who stand up for their beliefs even when it impacts their well-being. While the vast majority of those who read this article probably do not have to fear execution (for which we are grateful), followers of Jesus around the world are marginalized, sued, insulted, persecuted, and sometimes killed for their message.
We could complain about this state of affairs, but what if we took a lesson from Jesus? What if every day of our lives was invested in showing God’s good works through our actions, words, and service to others? What if we prayed for God to work attesting signs in our lives, not to confirm our own merit, but to validate the truth of His existence, His nature, and His message?
Yes, some would condemn us for speaking the truth. They could look at our good works, and the work of God in (and through) our lives, and would struggle to condemn us for those, though. Instead, they would be left to attack our claims, and their rejection of those claims could only be done in opposition to to both the truth about Jesus and the evidence in our lives.
So, this is my challenge to each of us (myself included): What if the next 24 hours of our lives – then the next week, month, and year – were so focused on living like Jesus did (in both deed and word), that after a while, we could ask the detractors of Jesus around us whether they are condemning us for our good works? Thoughtful skeptics, like the first-century people mentioned above, might question our message, rather than our actions. That is a reasonable discussion, though, and makes the conversation about Jesus Christ, rather than ourselves.
What more could we ask for than that?
Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”
John 13:35 NLT
Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries, Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.