Jesus didn’t ask people to believe only because He said it. He followed words up with works. His works were the evidence that His words were true. If even Jesus, the Son of God didn’t ask people to rely on His words, how much less should we expect people to count on ours?
Jesus was in Jerusalem for the Feast of Dedication. It was winter and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the colonnade of Solomon. People gathered around Him and said, “If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.”
These inquisitors were not asking so that they could fall down and worship Jesus, they were asking because they wanted to find a reason to arrest Him. Verses 25-30 read,
“Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father's name bear witness about me, 26 but you do not believe because you are not among my sheep. 27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. 30 I and the Father are one.”
To someone sincerely seeking the answer to whether Jesus is the Christ, the answer was plainly there in front of them. But these people weren’t looking for the truth. They were looking for Jesus to incriminate Himself. They weren’t going to believe His words, no matter what He said. So Jesus told them to look at his deeds rather than His words.
Verses 31-32 read,
“The Jews picked up stones again to stone him. 32 Jesus answered them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you going to stone me?”
Jesus knew He had never said anything that could bring Him condemnation. He knew that every single thing He had said and done had been because the Father had willed it. Jesus was surrounded by men ready to kill Him and He had complete calm and faith. He asked them which of the wonderful good Godly works He had done was the offense that would get Him the death penalty.
Verse 33 records their answer.
“The Jews answered him, “It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you but for blasphemy, because you, being a man, make yourself God.”
Jesus had never blasphemed. The Jews accusation of blasphemy was based on tradition, on rules tied to laws rather than God’s law itself. But they had long ago replaced God and God’s law with their convoluted tradition. So in fact it was them who broke the law, “Thou shalt have no other God’s before me.” (Exodus 20:3). They were throwing a twisted law at Jesus, so He answered with scripture. He referred to Psalm 82:6, “I said, “You are gods, sons of the Most High, all of you;” God referred to the Israelites, His judges, His appointed, His prophets, and His children as gods, sons of the Most High. If God could call his children His sons, then Jesus referring to Himself as the Son of God couldn’t be wrong and certainly wasn’t blasphemous. Verses 34-38 read,
“Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I said, you are gods’? 35 If he called them gods to whom the word of God came—and Scripture cannot be broken— 36 do you say of him whom the Father consecrated and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’? 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, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.”
The Jews had already conceded that Jesus must at least be a prophet. His works proved that. But now they let pride and anger darken their minds and couldn’t hear the truth, no matter how plainly stated and clearly demonstrated. So once again, they tried to arrest Jesus, but Jesus somehow escaped them.
Verses 40-42 read,
“He went away again across the Jordan to the place where John had been baptizing at first, and there he remained. 41 And many came to him. And they said, “John did no sign, but everything that John said about this man was true.” 42 And many believed in him there.”
Jesus left the temple and the people who had already made up their stubborn minds about Him to go to the countryside where people were more interested in following God than law. They believed Jesus. They heard John’s witness, Jesus testimony, and saw Jesus life and they believed.
Are you expecting people to believe your words without the works to back them up? Are you struggling and arguing with those who have already decided never to believe? Follow Jesus example, let your actions speak to the truth of your words. Leave the temple and the people who can’t admit their need of redemption. Go to the wilderness and extend the gift of salvation to those who will realize they need it.