EVERYBODY MUST GET STONED
Dr. Chuck DeVane, Pastor
Lake Hamilton Baptist Church
Hot Springs, Arkansas
September 20, 2020
30 I and the Father are one.”
31 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?” 33 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.” 34 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.” 39 Again they sought to arrest him, but he escaped from their hands.
40 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.
— John 10:30-42, ESV
One of Bob Dylan’s first and most enduring hits contains the repeated chorus, “Everybody must get stoned.” Those who don’t know Dylan well or listen carefully to his Nobel Prize winning lyrics think this is a song advocating the use of illicit drugs. But Dylan, by his own testimony, never wrote a drug song.
“Rainy Day Women #12 & 35” (a much debated title that does not appear anywhere in the lyrics) is a song about persecution, persecution for being someone different or doing something differently. Dylan wrote it in the mid-60’s during his transition from folk/acoustic to rock/electric. His fans booed him and the critics trashed him. It was professional persecution. Hearkening back to his Jewish upbringing and the Old Testament Scriptures, Dylan felt like people were throwing stones at him.
Dylan is pretty cool in my book, but Jesus is the coolest, ever, and everlasting. He was a distinctive person. There is no one else like Him. He did things differently for His day, or any day For being distinctive and doing things differently, as you can see in this text, “The Jews picked up stones to stone Him.” If someone as divine and perfect as Jesus is to be stoned, then everybody must get stoned.
The Distinctive Person of Christ
The Jews, especially the religious leaders, should have known that when Messiah appeared, He would be an “only begotten” (ref. John 3:16), which literally means “one-of-a-kind,” being who is both fully God and fully man. Consider the prophecies of the most quoted Jewish prophet, Isaiah:
Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.
— Isaiah 7:14
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
— Isaiah 9:6
The virgin-born man who is “God with us,” and the God-man who is both “Mighty God” and “Prince of Peace” is Jesus of Nazareth, the Lord Jesus Christ. So it should be no wonder, and certainly nothing worth being stoned over, that Jesus said, “I and the Father are one.”
But it freaked the Pharisees out something awful. Not even Jesus’ reference to Psalm 82 could convince them that He had not blasphemed the true and living God. How could He, when the Father and the Son are two persons of the exact same being, the same substance, homoousian.
Remember, they were not looking Jesus the Divine, but for another Judah the Hammer. They were playing politics, looking for military might and an economic policy that favored them. They were looking for a leader who would codify their extra-biblical rules, not God’s word.
Besides, if Jesus and the Father are one, they thought, they would have to bow down and worship Him. They would have to follow and obey Him. They would have to love and honor Him. They would have to put the sovereign Lord above their autonomous selves. Perhaps this is why the vast majority of Americans today, and up to 30% of confessing evangelicals, deny the deity of Christ.
So, it was decided, Jesus had to go. “The Jews picked up stones again to stone Him,” as they had at least once before (ref. John 8:59). And if they are going to stone Jesus for being Lord and Christ, then everybody must get stoned.
The Different Work of Christ
“Believe the works,” Jesus said to them. But they would not. They weren’t that kind of works, done in the kind of way, that the Pharisees wanted.
If the religious rulers of Jesus’ day could have captured the power of God and put it in a bottle, they would have poured it out upon certain people in a certain way. They would have used it against their enemies, to destroy them. They would have used it for financial gain, to enrich themselves. They would have used it to enforce a smothering legalism upon the population, whereby they could control them and make them conform to their image.
Jesus worked differently. He catered to the poor and marginalized and even reached out to Gentiles. His followers were fisherman, prostitutes, and tax collectors. He used His power never to harm, only to help, never to confine, only to liberate.
Jesus kept a woman they would have stoned from being stoned, lepers they shunned from being shunned, and the blind they kicked out of the synagogue from remaining in darkness. Jesus did so many of these works on the Sabbath day, which was no violation of God’s word, but a strict rebuke against the Pharisees’ ridiculous rules.
“For which of them are you going to stone Me,” Jesus asked. All of them, I suppose. But if you are going to stone Jesus Christ for doing God’s work God’s way, then everybody must get stoned.
The Distinctive and Different Life of Christ
Jesus knew He would not get stoned that day, it was not yet His time. But Jesus did know, omniscient God that He is, that they would not fail to kill Him in four months time.
With this in mind, Jesus retreats from the aborted stoning, lingers into the shadow of the cross, and takes time to reflect. We would do well to reflect with Him, to consider the great price God’s Son paid for God’s people, and come to the conclusion that if Jesus Christ had to have the cross, all of His followers must take up their cross, too.
At this time of reflection we only know about a mere three years of Jesus’ life. Matthew and Luke do describe His birth, and Luke ads a caveat at age twelve, but the bulk of the Gospels, especially this one well chronicled by John, covers a little over three cycles of the annual Jewish feasts and festivals.
It began with John the Baptist, which is why we find Jesus here, “Across the Jordan to the place where John had been baptizing at first.” Jesus, with about a hundred days to live, thought about they day just over three years prior when He was baptized by John to begin His public ministry. He thought about His first followers, Peter and James and John and the others, who must have been by His side at this moment. He thought about all the sermons and miracles He had done to prove His deity and preach the gospel. He thought about all the joy at the meals and festivals, and He thought about the pain and suffering, which He could now see through His front windshield.
Ironically, at this out of the way place, it is written, “Many believed in him there” (vs. 42). John’s Gospel of belief sometimes plays fast and loose with the term, sometimes superficial, sometimes sincere. How can you tell if it is distinctive, different, saving faith? Do you pick up stones against Jesus, or are you willing to take them with Him?
Well, they’ll stone you when you’re trying to be good,
They’ll stone you just like they said they would;
They’ll stone you when you’re trying to go home,
And they’ll stone you when you’re there all alone.
But I would not feel so all alone,
Everybody must get stoned.
— Bob Dylan
Jesus did not just try to be good, He was and is the Good Shepherd. They killed Him just like they said they would. He went back home, to Heaven, with the promise to bring sheep with Him. He died alone on the cross, but Jesus will not be alone, if you will take up your cross and follow Him. Everybody must get stoned.
Dr. Charles F. "Chuck" DeVane, Jr., is the Pastor of Lake Hamilton Baptist Church in Hot Springs, Arkansas. His weekly sermon article, "The Gospel Truth," has been published in newspapers in Arkansas and Georgia. Dr. DeVane is a graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and has served in the pastorate for over 20 years. Contact Pastor Chuck at PastorChuck@lakehamiltonbaptistchurch.org