John 9-12

Jesus gives a blind man sight by anointing his eyes with saliva and clay.  The Pharisees are skeptical and question him; he gives Jesus credit, but the Pharisees excommunicate him.  Jesus disputes with Pharisees, saying that he is the true shepherd, who leads his followers correctly; he is the door of the sheep, who keeps out thieves; he is the good shepherd, who would sacrifice his life for his flock.  Some Pharisees think he has a demon, others believed him.  At the Feast of Dedication (Hannukah) in Jerusalem, Jesus claims “I and My Father are one”; Jews try to stone him, so he escapes beyond the Jordan.  Lazarus of Bethany is sick and his sister Mary begs Jesus for help; Jesus waits for him to die to demonstrate his powers.  After two days of waiting, Jesus goes to Bethany and raises Lazarus from the dead, causing many Jews who saw this to believe in him.  Jesus rides a donkey into Jerusalem for Passover.  Jesus predicts his crucifixion; some rulers believed him, but the Pharisees did not.

Commentary: After Jesus says “I and My Father are one”, the Pharisees ask him how a man can be God.  Jesus quotes Psalm 86, saying (10:34):

Is it not written in your law, ‘I said, You are gods’?

Psalm 86 is one of the most intriguing psalms.  In its entirety, it reads:

God presides in the great assembly;
    he renders judgment among the gods:

“How long will you defend the unjust
    and show partiality to the wicked?
Defend the weak and the fatherless;
    uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed.
Rescue the weak and the needy;
    deliver them from the hand of the wicked.

“The gods know nothing, they understand nothing.
    They walk about in darkness;
    all the foundations of the earth are shaken.

“I said, ‘You are gods;
   you are all sons of the Most High.’
But you will die like mere mortals;
   you will fall like every other ruler.”

Rise up, O God, judge the earth,
    for all the nations are your inheritance.

Is the author endorsing polytheism?  If he is, why does God say that the other gods will die like mere mortals?  One interpretation is that this divine council used to be composed of immortal gods, but because they ruled unjustly, God stripped them of their power.  In any case, Jesus’ point in quoting the psalm is probably that a man can also be a god–after all, the gods in Psalm 82 are mortal.

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