In John 10:30 Jesus says:
I and the Father are one.
How does this simple line undo the popular Western understanding of God?
Welcome to 50-for-50. This post is part of a collection of 50 things I’m doing involving the number 5 to celebrate my 50th trip around the sun. Over the next year, I will highlight 50 things from the Bible that have most shaped my thoughts on faith and life. You can read all 50 Bible reflections here or sign up for a full 50-for-50 weekly recaps here.
John 10 Then
As John 10 opens Jesus had just healed a man born blind and launches into his Good Shepherd discourse. As the discourse closes, the people John describes as “the Jews” hold divided opinions of him. Some think he is a demon or insane. Others find his works, especially healing a man born blind, amazing. But the lack of clarity doesn’t last long.
As John 10 continues, Jesus finds himself at the Feast of Dedication in Jerusalem, and “the Jews” again come to him, this time directly asking him if he is the Christ. Jesus response: “I and the Father are one.”
Now undivided, “the Jews” pick up stones to stone him for committing blasphemy, specifically making himself God.
The point is, that John leaves no room for ambiguity about what it means for Jesus to be one with the God he calls Father.
But John 10 isn’t the only place in the Bible that describes Jesus and the God he calls Father as one. In Colossians Paul writes:
For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body.Colossians 2:9 (NLT)
The author of the letter to the Hebrews does the same:
Long ago God spoke many times and in many ways to our ancestors through the prophets. And now in these final days, he has spoken to us through his Son. God promised everything to the Son as an inheritance, and through the Son he created the universe. The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God, and he sustains everything by the mighty power of his command. When he had cleansed us from our sins, he sat down in the place of honor at the right hand of the majestic God in heaven.Hebrews 1:1-3 (NLT)
But how does Jesus being one with God undo the popular Western understanding of God?
The Divided Western God
When Western Christendom talks about God, it divides the identity of Jesus and the God he calls Father.
God, they say, is holy and sinful humans cannot come near a holy God. And yet Jesus doesn’t only walk in our midst but physically touches us. If Jesus and God were the same, this couldn’t happen unless Jesus wasn’t human but wearing a divine inferno-resistant suit that looked like human skin.
However, if we look at the Eastern Church, they have a unified understanding of God. I’ll let this priest explain (lots of people on YouTube do this, but as far as I can tell, he was the first):
The Root Problem In The West
What is the root problem in the West? We do not understand what it means for God to be holy.
I’ll take up that next week.