BISHOP EDWIN BARNES, the Bishop of Richborough continues our series of twelve meditations in preparation for the Millennium Celebration ‘Christ Our Future’ at the London Arena, Docklands on June 10, 2000
Bishop Edwin takes up the theme of the Lord’s Sonship, the very accusation which was to bring about his death.
“HE HAS CLAIMED TO BE THE SON OF GOD”.
The Jews charged Jesus before Pilate with claiming to be Son of God. He had found no case for Jesus to answer, but they replied that it was the Jewish law he had transgressed, and the punishment for claiming to be God’s Son was execution. In the past they had tried this same charge. They fetched stones to stone him, so Jesus said to them, “I have done many good works for you to see, works from my Father. for which of these are you stoning me?” The Jews answered him, “We are not stoning you for doing a good work, but for blasphemy; you are only a man and you claim to be God”.’ Just as Jesus answered from Scripture when Satan tempted him, so on this occasion he answers his accusers from Scripture. He quotes from Psalm 82, where God had addressed those he chose to be judges of his people in this way. ‘I once said, “You too are gods, sons of the Most High, all of you”.’ If God chose judges to act in his name, and could call them his sons, how much more Jesus, whom he had sent as his representative?
The proof Jesus offers them, though, is what he does. ‘You say “you are blaspheming” to someone who says “I am the Son of God”. If I am not doing my Father’s work, there is no need to believe in me. If I am doing it, then even if you refuse to believe in me, at least believe in the work I do – then you will be certain that the Father is in me and I am in the Father”.
Constantly, and especially through the Gospel of St John, the signs Jesus does point to his relationship with the Father. People may accept the evidence, or refuse it. Nathaniel calls him “Son of God” simply because he tells him “I saw you under the fig tree”. It is ridiculously slight evidence, and Jesus says he will see far greater things; heaven itself opened up, and the angels of God ascending and descending above the Son of Man. The most remarkable acceptance and rejection of Jesus as God’s son, though, occur after the healing of the man who had been blind from birth. Healed, the evidence of his own eyes makes him acknowledge Jesus. The Pharisees who have the same evidence claim that either it did not happen, or the healing must have been evil. This separation of sheep from goats, of those who accept Jesus for who he is, or reject him, is why he has come among us . “It is for judgement that I have come into this world, so that those without sight may see, and those with sight turn blind”. It is also why St John wrote his gospel, and it is immediately after Thomas’ confession “My Lord and my God” that the Evangelist sums up his Gospel, “These signs that Jesus worked are recorded so that you might believe the Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life through his name”.