Jesus answered them, “I showed you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you stoning Me?” The Jews answered Him, “For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy; and because You, being a man, make Yourself out to be God.” Jesus answered them, “Has it not been written in your Law, ‘I SAID, YOU ARE GODS’? If he called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken), do you say of Him, whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’? “
John 10:32-36 (NAS)
Today, we consider a text from the gospel of John containing an Old Testament quote that our Lord Jesus Christ cited from Psalm 82:6. Here’s the verse in its entirety. “I said, ‘You are gods, and all of you are sons of the Most High.’ “
This section of Psalms from which Jesus quotes, Chapters 73-89, compose the third book of Psalms. All the chapters in this section are attributed to either Asaph (him and his descendents), or the sons of Korah with the exception of Psalm 86, which is attributed to David. For this reason, the third book of Psalms is often referred to among “theologians” as the “Asaphitic” book. These psalms are more national than individual in nature and have a prophetic character about many of them.
Unjust Judges and Judgment
Psalm 82 is a Psalm about rulers (literally “gods” in the Hebrew) judging. Either justly according to God’s prescribed pattern which includes vindicating, rescuing and delivering the weak, fatherless, and destitute out of the hand of the wicked; or, judging unjustly, showing partiality to the wicked (implied is bowing to the whims of the powerful), forsaking their God-given responsibility as “sons of the Most High” entrusted with that authority in this realm.
Blinded by their personal ambition and obstinate nature, choosing to not know or understand, the Scripture defines them walking “about in darkness” (Ps. 82:5). The foundation of the moral and just code on earth established by the Creator is collapsing due to their arrogance. They are charged with, as James would say, “disorder and every evil thing.” (James 3:1) What greater ignominy could these bear than this rebuke from the LORD for their abrogation of His trust?
The result of this violation of trust is the certainty that the LORD will lay them low through His righteous judgment (Ps. 82:7). The judgment of these “gods” would be just since the word of God had come, via the Law and the prophets, was available to them and they were without excuse. The Psalmist then calls for the True God to “Arise….judge the earth!” in righteousness as the sovereign possessor of all the nations (Ps. 82:8).
The Just Judge and His Righteous Judgment
Prior to Jesus’ appearance and beginning of His ministry in Israel, things weren’t much different from what Asaph observed in his. The Pharisees and Sadducees were experts at setting aside the commandment of God in order to observe their own traditions (Mark 7:6-9). As self ordained rulers (or “gods”) who had arrogated power unto themselves among the congregation of God’s people, they weren’t really interested in vindicating or rescuing the weak. They were more interested in propagating their own power and influence by perpetrating wickedness against the sheep!\
The Father’s answer? This was the proper time to bring forth the Son in the flesh, Jesus Christ, the Righteous Ruler Moses spoke about that God would raise up among His congregation (the nation Israel). Of this One the LORD says “I will put My words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him.” (Deut 18:18). The apostle John, through inspiration of the Holy Spirit, says that Jesus was “the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1)
So, the Word of God had come to the “gods” speaking that which the Father had given Him. That included exposing the hypocrisy of these charlatans, who claimed to be shepherds of the Father’s sheep, rebuking them for their obstinate nature, mistreatment of the flock and spiritual blindness. He did call them blind guides (Matt. 23:24) leading the blind, both teacher and hearer falling into the pit (Luke 6:36). In pointing out their works versus those of His own, Jesus revealed them to be who they really were, sons of their father, the Devil, and not “sons of the Most High”. Jesus meanwhile has established through His works that He is the Good Shepherd willing to lay down His life, speaking words that demonstrate His desire to vindicate, rescue, and deliver the fatherless, weak and destitute. They hear His voice and prove Him to be The Son of the Most High!
Being in darkness, these false “gods” put to death the one True God (1 Tim. 1:17) in order to hold onto their place and position. We know the rest of the story. For this transgression, they and their adherents to the Rabbinical based Jewish system were laid low in judgment.
Here’s the good news! The cry of Asaph in Psalm 82:8, “Arise Oh God, and judge the earth!”, is fulfilled. In Jesus’ resurrection from the dead and His ascension to the throne in heaven, He is now seated as the King of Kings, sovereign possessor of all the nations (C. f. Psalm 2:6-8), ruling on behalf of spiritual Israel.
The Word of God has now come to us. As spiritual “sons of the Most High” and priests of God (1 Pet. 2:5, 9), we now reign with Him (Rev. 20:6). Our job as His righteous co-regents (“gods”?) is to take the gospel to the weak, fatherless, and destitute, seeking to rescue and deliver them from the snare of the Wicked one (the Devil) into the hand of Christ, securing them as His possession!