31 The Jews took up stones again to stone him. 32Jesus replied, ‘I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these are you going to stone me?’ 33The 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.’ 34Jesus answered, ‘Is it not written in your law,* “I said, you are gods”? 35If those to whom the word of God came were called “gods”—and the scripture cannot be annulled— 36can 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”? 37If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me. 38But 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.’ 39Then they tried to arrest him again, but he escaped from their hands.
40 He went away again across the Jordan to the place where John had been baptizing earlier, and he remained there. 41Many came to him, and they were saying, ‘John performed no sign, but everything that John said about this man was true.’ 42And many believed in him there.
The interchange has so enraged Jesus’ adversaries that they pick up stones, preparing to stone him. Now the average man would be frightened, run away, or cower before them – not Jesus! He looks them in the eyes, and says, sort of, “I have done lots of good things – all were from the Father – you’re stoning me for which one?” The religious leaders reply that they are stoning him, not for the good works, but for blasphemy, for he is making himself God. This, of course, is the key point of dissension – the religious leaders might have been willing to accept a “prophet”; they grudgingly allowed John the Baptist to continue preaching. But Jesus claims to be something greater than that. He claims to be God’s own Son – the incarnation of God walking on this earth, in the flesh, with us.
It is still the challenge to those who are not Christians. The Jews and the Muslims (and Jehovah’s Witnesses as well) today believe that Jesus was a great prophet, but they do not believe in his divinity. For us, it is the very incarnation – the divine accepting human flesh – the true Son of God – giving of himself for us – in which salvation lies. He opened the way for grace.
But Jesus simply asks the religious leaders, if the Scripture does not say that they are all God’s children. And yet they accuse him of blasphemy because he says he is God’s son? Don’t believe me, he says, believe the works (what John calls “signs”) that could only be done with God’s help. Then they will understand that the Father is in him, and he is in the Father. At this point, they are again enraged, but he escapes from their grasp and walks away.
Jesus went away from there, to a place across the Jordan, and remained there for a time. And many people came to him there, and believed. We can come to Jesus – and with open hearts, and in his grace, we too believe.