Saturday, July 01, 2023

He was led as a sheep to the slaughter (John 10)

John chapter ten is more speeches by Jesus which, as I said sometime earlier, is a lot of John's gospel.

The SAB misinterprets verse eight; I don't think that Jesus is saying everyone everyone that came before him was a thief and a liar, but rather those that claimed to be the Messiah. I think it is mentioned in passing in the other gospels that there were actually a lot of people in that era who were claiming to be the Messiah. Who was the greatest prophet? There is something ironic about the Deuteronomy verse given here, and that's that it was written by Moses, the same guy who wrote Numbers 12:3 (Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth.) Generally, when there's a verse like that in the Bible, it means up until the time of this writing, it didn't happen, but this was written while Moses was still alive! Anyway, it doesn't say Moses was the greatest prophet, it just says there was never another like him which, in the sense that it notes, is true. So the issue is really between John the Baptist and Jesus. I think there is an understanding that Jesus is sort of in a class of his own, and furthermore, note what Luke 7:28 say as a whole: "...he that is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he [John the Baptist]." This verse seems to be saying that there is something special about Christians, and technically, John wasn't a Christian. Nonetheless, after all that babbling on, I feel the need to point out that none of the verses listed for Jesus talk specifically about Jesus as a prophet, leading me to say, the definitive answer here is John the Baptist was the greatest prophet.

Who is the greatest person? This is not a contradiction, because each of these verses is really saying something different. The verse about Solomon is saying that he's the wisest person who ever lived. As I just said above, the verses about John the Baptist are saying he's the greatest prophet who ever lived. The verses about "everyone in the kingdom of heaven" are just a comparison of greatness to John the Baptist. The verse about being humble is saying that the more humble you are, the greater you will be in the kingdom of heaven. And really, who was more humble than Jesus? As Philippians 2:6-8 says of Jesus,
Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
The SAB says verse 16 is a false prophecy. Jesus talks about there being "other sheep I have, which are not of this fold" and that "there shall be one fold, and one shepherd." I think the SAB is thinking this means something other than what I understand it to be. Up until this point, Jesus has been almost exclusively preaching to Jews; the Jews are "this fold", and the "other sheep" are the gentiles. Jesus is saying the Gospel is going to spread outside of Palestine, and there will be one Christianity. (If the SAB is nitpicking about the multitude of Christian denominations, I don't think there will be any after the second coming.)

Jesus talks about laying down his life in verses 17 and 18, prompting the SAB to ask if Jesus committed suicide. This is an interesting question that I don't think a lot of people ponder enough. I mean, Jesus actually says, "No man taketh [my life] from me, but I lay it down of myself." This does sound like suicide. I would say yes, Jesus did effectively commit suicide because he was in complete control of the timing and manner of his death. I expect I will have a lot to say about this when I get there.

Is it possible to fall from grace? Boy this is a doozy of a question, and the standard answer sounds like a cop-out, but I'm going to give it, because it's Biblical. It's one of those things like predestination vs. free will, where it's complicated and sort of metaphysical. Yes, here in verse 28 and in various other parts of the Bible, it sounds like a believer can't fall from grace, while in others it seems to be talking about that very thing. The key is actually in the Bible in 1John 2:19:
They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.
In other words, if you "fell from grace" it indicates that you were never there in the first place. Using Jesus's terminology from our chapter, nobody can pluck Jesus's sheep from his hand, so if someone appears to have been turned away from Jesus, that just proves that they were never his sheep.

I already answered the question of whether Jesus is God in John chapter one, but the real interesting question here is How many gods are there? which the SAB brings up because Jesus quotes Psalm 82, which has a lot of suggestive language. I think I already answered this question a long time ago, but I'll give it another go. There is a very important sense that is given by the Bible--and is echoed by modern theologians--that anything you choose to worship becomes your god. In that sense, there are certainly many gods; people worship money, power, sex, beauty, food, nature, guns, drugs, and the list goes on. Most other religions' gods are just embodiment of these concepts. When the Bible says there is one God, it's stressing that there is one God that is a true God, while all other "gods" are lesser to the point of meaninglessness. So yes, the Bible admits the existence of other gods, but with a caveat.

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