The Revelation in Good Works
John 10:31 The Jews took up stones again to stone him. 32 Jesus replied, “I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these are you going to stone me?” 33 The Jews answered, “It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you, but for blasphemy, because you, though only a human being, are making yourself God.” 34 Jesus answered, “Is it not written in your law, ‘I said, you are gods’? 35 If those to whom the word of God came were called ‘gods’—and the scripture cannot be annulled— 36 can you say that the one whom the Father has sanctified and sent into the world is blaspheming because I said, ‘I am God’s Son’? 37 If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me. 38 But if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, so that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.” 39 Then they tried to arrest him again, but he escaped from their hands.
The incarnation was a very difficult concept to grasp but Jesus was present to reveal the Father to God’s people. Jesus came to bring salvation to all of creation and yet there was such little understanding. Jesus chides the religious leaders for wanting to stone him for doing good works. They responded that they weren't going to stone him for good works, but for making himself God. What they didn’t understand was that the good works were in and of themselves revelations of God.
God was visible in the activity of Jesus Christ and that was the purpose. At the same time we embrace the words of Irenaeus, “God became man that man might become God.” (Adv. Haer., 3.19.1) Athanasius puts it this way, “Christ was not man [first], and then became God. Rather, he was [first] God, and then he became man, and that to deify us.” (DISCOURSES AGAINST THE ARIANS 1.11.39) The revelation in Christ’s good works is that God is revealed in the life of a human. Christ prepares the way for all of humanity to become participants or partakers of the divine nature. Just as good works in Christ reveal God, so we do not do good works to be saved, but we do good works for Christ is in us. Christ is in the Father and his good works reveal the very character of God to the world. Doing good works, while blessing many, angered the religious leaders and they wanted him arrested.
This story is really about a theological message which Jesus is illustrating through his actions. This concept of Jesus and the Father being one was not easily grasped by the religious leaders. Jesus participated in the good works of the Father so that the Father could be revealed through him. While Jesus’ activity frustrated the religious leaders, they failed to understand that what they were really seeing was God at work right in front of them. They rejected Jesus’ good works because they couldn’t believe that Jesus just might be the Son of God. Over and over again God, is reaching out to humanity and providing a pathway back into a relationship of transformation into the likeness of the divine image.
You don’t have to be a Christian to do good things, for there are plenty of people who like to do good things. You don’t have to do good works to be saved. However, if you are in a relationship with God on a daily basis, you will do good works. The reality is that when you are united with Christ you are compelled to do good works because of the nature of Christ at work within you. What is revealed in our own behavior is Christ in us.
This glimpse of Jesus and his relationship to the world is a foreshadowing of our own participation in this world. When we are in Christ we may experience the same response from those around us regarding our actions or behaviors. They may not be pleased and may even result in arrest. It happens regularly in many parts of the world! But this did not deter Jesus from his mission and neither should we be deterred from our mission. We are to invited into the holy relationship that Jesus described. He and the Father are one. We are invited to fellowship in the relationship found in the holy Trinity and when we do that on a regular basis we cannot help but be engaged in good works. Our good works are not meant to glorify ourselves, but to glorify our heavenly Father. They are to reveal God to this world.
Lord, please help me to fellowship with you today and may you be reflected in the works of life. Amen.
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