The Lord didn’t have to be a prophet to predict that they were about to stone Him (v.31). He didn’t try to talk them out of it because He was afraid to die (Ps.88:14,15), it just wasn’t time yet (John 2:4); He hadn’t yet prepared the 12 to carry on in His absence.
But who were these “gods” of whom He spoke (10:34)? Moses was a god to Aaron (Ex.4:14-16), his ultimate authority, and a god to Pharaoh (7:1). The gods of Exodus 22:28 were the governmental rulers under their main ruler. Even Gentile rulers were gods (Ps.138:1,4). That’s why we shouldn’t rebel against them (Rom.13:1) even when they rule contrary to the constitution, the law of our land (Acts 23:1-5). The gods of Psalm 82:1 are obviously Israel’s judges, who were judging unfairly (v.1-4).
So when the Jews got upset that the Lord called Himself God, He quoted Psalm 82:6,7 to point out that according to the Law they were gods! He argued, “If God called them gods unto whom the Word of God came (i.e., the Jews, [see Rom.3:1,2]), why is it blasphemy for Me to say I’m God? The Scripture says leaders are gods, and the Scripture can’t be broken.” All such gods were sons of God (Ps.82:6), so why couldn’t He call Himself the Son of God?
So far He was saying He was god in the same sense they were, just to get them to put the stones down, which they did. But He can’t have them thinking He was only a god in that sense, so He says that God “sanctified” Him (10:36), i.e., set Him apart from the other gods by sending Him into the world. They weren’t pre-existent like He was.
Next the Lord talked about something else that set Him apart from the other gods, His “works” (v.37), i.e., His miracles. In the previous chapter He healed a blind man, something only God could do (Ps. 146:8; John 9:32). We tell unbelievers who don’t believe there is a God to believe His works (Hebrews 1:10; 4:4), for His works leave them “without excuse” for believing (Romans 1:22). Here in John 10:38, the Lord asked the Jews to do the same thing.
If they didn’t believe He was God, believe His works!
Once they realized He was again claiming to be the God, they again tried to kill Him (v.39), but He escaped, and returned to a remote area (v.40) to begin to train the 12. This shows He knew His Bible. Isaiah predicted that Israel would reject Him (Isa.8:14,15 cf. Rom.9:31,32), and that in response He should bind the testimony among the disciples (Isa.8:16). This shows He ordered His life by God’s Word. If that was a good idea for Him, how about for you?
Once secluded, the Lord continued to work miracles. We know this because John said that He would (Mt. 3:11), and John 9:41 says the people found that what John had said was true. Since “many believed on Him there” (10:42), we know He was working miracles (cf. 2:23; 11:45).
“Mary” (11:1) is the one who anointed the Lord (v.2 cf. 12:1-3). The Lord has to be told Lazarus was sick (11:3) because He was not omniscient while here on earth. Some say if the Lord loves you, you won’t be sick, but Lazarus proved otherwise!
The Lord loved Lazarus (10:3), making him a type of Israel (Deut.7:7-9). But one of the things that parental love does is let children make bad decisions, and Israel had made so many bad decisions that they were spiritually sick (Isaiah 1:5,6). The Lord said their sickness was not unto death, as typified here by Lazarus (John 11:4). But how could the Lord say this if Lazarus ended up dying?
Well, let’s think about how he represented Israel. When they crucified the Lord, it seemed like they were as good as dead. But the Lord here is saying that things aren’t always as they seem. He was going to let Israel “die” so He could be glorified when one day He raises her from her spiritual “death,” as He did for Lazarus.
When the Lord heard Lazarus was sick, He purposely waited two days to go to him (11:5,6), a type of how He let Israel die while staying out of sight with His apostles, training them.