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Today's Little Lift

    by Jim Bullington

I and My Father are One (John 10:30)
Date Posted: September 26, 2020

Religious debates are, for all practical purposes, a thing of the past in our culture. This is not to say that they were good or bad, but to recall a point that I saw made in a debate in the early 1970’s. The debate was between two men, both of whom claimed to be Christians and believers in the Bible. One of the men was Trinitarian (subscribed to the belief that the Godhead consists of three persons) and the other was Unitarian (subscribed to the belief that God exists as only one person). As the debate was winding down, Mr. Patterson, the Unitarian introduced his son who was in the audience. Mr. Woods, the Trinitarian was quick to point out that father and son cannot be one person and thus, made a powerful point toward advancing his arguments for the Trinity.

Today’s passage contains a statement, which like all statements, must be interpreted in light of its context. We quote again the words of Jesus from John’s gospel account: “And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. I and My Father are one.” (John 10.28-30). There certainly is no disputing the fact that Jesus said that He and His Father are one. However, what did He mean when He said it? Did He mean that He and His Father were one person? Or, was there some other meaning to His statement?

Compare some contemporary statements of similar construction. On January 18,2009, there was a public celebration anticipating the upcoming inauguration of Barak Obama as the 44th president of the United States. This celebration was called We Are One: The Obama Inaugural Celebration at the Lincoln Memorial. One estimate stated that over 400 thousand people were in attendance. Yet, according to the name given to the event, they were all one. In the Disney film, The Lion King, Mufasa and his son, Simba sing a memorable song, We Are One. It expresses the truth in claiming that there is a connection between all living things, and in that sense, they are one. Taking these two contemporary examples of language usage, no one would take these statements from the Lincoln Memorial celebrations or from the animated Disney movie and distort them to say that there was only one person or personality involved in either case. Yet, when it comes to John 10.30, some distort the obvious intent of the passage to make it say that the Father and the Son are one and the same person!

Now let’s look back at the context of John 10.30. Jesus had just stated an important fact regarding His authority (power) when He said, concerning His sheep, “Neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.” Then almost in the same breath He said concerning the Father, “No one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand.” It was only after these two almost identical statements that Jesus said, “I and My Father are one.” His intent was obvious; He was simply saying that what He had the power to do regarding His sheep the Father also the same power. That could also be reversed to say whatever the Father could do regarding His sheep, the Son could do! They are one in this regard!

To further demonstrate that this is and was an appropriate usage of the language, I quote Jesus from His prayer just prior to His betrayal: “I do not pray for these [disciples] alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.” (John 17.20-21). His prayer for the unity of believers was not a prayer that one person or personality would emerge; it was a prayer for commonality of purpose and heart. Such was the case when He said, “I and My Father are one!”

Questions:

1. What would be proven should hearers come to believe that Jesus and the Father were one in power?

2. What would be lost if it were not the case that the Father and the Son were one in power?

3. How does Jesus’ argument in this text prove the fact that He is God in the flesh?

4. What difference, if any, would it make to the credibility of Jesus if it could be shown that He was not God in the flesh?

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Biography Information:
Jim Bullington - A Christian writer whose insight into the scriptures is reflected in practical application lessons in every article. The reader will find that the Bible speaks directly to him/her through these articles. God is always exalted and His word is treated with the utmost respect in this column.
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