"I have shown you many good works from the Father..." (John 10:32)

Again his Jewish opponents picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus said to them, "I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?" (John 10:31-32) 

Why did they want to stone Jesus?

The Pharisees and other temple officials wanted to stone Jesus because he said something they did not understand. He said:
"I and the Father are one." (John 10:30)
They did not understand this statement. They thought that Jesus was saying that he was God. So they wanted to stone him.

Even today we find this interpretation exists. Even though Jesus states clearly in the above statement that he is serving God - "works from the Father."

Jesus' statement in John 10:30 is better understood when translated more accurately, as is translated from the Lost Gospels of Jesus:
"The Creator and I are united.” (John 10:30)
Jesus was not saying that he was the Supreme Being. He was saying that he and the Supreme Being were one in will and purpose. There was a unity of purpose and will between himself and God. Jesus was doing God's will. He was representing the Supreme Being and working to please God. This makes them one in will and purpose, but in no way makes Jesus God.

This is illustrated with Jesus' prayer to the Supreme Being:
"Abba, Father, everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will. Let the cup pass from me." (Mark 14:36)
If Jesus were the Supreme Being, he would not need to pray to anyone.

What were the 'good works' Jesus is talking about?

Jesus is speaking of his various efforts to preach to people, and also some of his healings and other miracles. These are considered "works" - from the Greek word ἔργον (ergon) meaning "an act, deed, thing done" - because these are the things that Jesus did in his service to God and his service to humanity.

Indeed, Jesus also confirms that the good works he performed did not come from himself, but rather, from God, whom he refers to as Abba or Father. This indicates that Jesus was dependent upon the Supreme Being. He was doing God's will, and his activities were empowered by God.

This is the position of God's loving servant. Jesus did not claim the miracles because he knew where they came from. They came from His Beloved, the Supreme Being. If Jesus was the Supreme Being, he would not defer to anyone. Why would the Supreme Being defer to someone else?

Could Jesus be referring to his "dying for our sins"?

This erroneous interpretation that "God became man so he could die for our sins" is preposterous. Why would the Supreme Being need to come under the control of material nature - which He created - in order to die? Are they saying that God died?

Why would God need to suffer on the cross for our sins? 

This means that the Supreme Being must somehow come under the rules of the physical world - a world of consequence. God is above these rules. He made these rules. He does not need to follow the rules He created for our rehabilitation.

If the Supreme Being wanted to remove the sins of humankind He could do so with a simple thought. He does not need to disguise Himself as a man and suffer on a cross.

Where did this notion that Jesus died for our sins come from?

This idea that Jesus died for our sins has been completely misconstrued. Yes, purification results from following Jesus, and understanding his sacrifice and commitment to the Supreme Being is purifying. But a literal derivation of texts such as Paul's misconstrues the situation entirely:
"For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures" (1 Cor 15:3)
Paul's teachings were not compliant with Jesus' teachings. Jesus did not teach this. Nor did Jesus' disciples. This is why Paul openly debated James and Peter regarding Jesus' teachings.

Paul created a new interpretation of the meaning of Jesus' life that was not consistent with Jesus' teachings. Paul was not a follower of Jesus when Jesus walked the earth.

Paul supposedly (second hand - Paul never writes of this personally) had a "vision" of Jesus, and this supposedly gave him the authority to teach on Jesus' behalf. (We say "vision" in quotes because the letters say that Paul just saw a light and heard a voice. He didn't see Jesus personally. The voice could have come from someone else.) 

Paul was not a disciple of Jesus. And his teachings differed from the teachings of Jesus and Jesus' disciples who were trying to spread his teachings.

Paul's teachings were aimed at collecting followers. He was supposedly broadening the reach of Jesus' teachings to the "Gentiles" - as if "Gentiles" means a common person.

Consider for a moment what Jesus stated about his persecution:
"He will be delivered over to the Gentiles. They will mock him, insult him and spit on him; they will flog him and kill him.  (Luke 18:32-33)
So Paul wanted to round up those people who persecuted Jesus for his early church?

Actually, the word "Gentiles" - translated from the Greek word ἔθνος (ethnos), means "pagans" or those "not worshipping the true God." according to Thayer's lexicon. This means that in the context of Jesus' statement, he was referring to those who were atheists.

Yes, Jesus is referring to atheists. That's why he didn't want to teach to them. He didn't want to teach to those who didn't believe in the existence of the Supreme Being.

Now understand that the society that Paul set out to convert from was not just atheistic. They worshipped the Roman pantheon and they also worshipped some of the Emperors as though they were gods - such as Caesar.

In order to reach these people, Paul had to appeal to the idea of easy purification: That once we accept that Jesus died for our sins, we are purified.

And purification is not about loving and serving God - it is about taking advantage of God to get cleaned off.

Jesus' teachings offered another form of purification. One where our consciousness needs to change from being self-centered to loving God:
"'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment." (Matt. 22:37-38) 

Could "died for our sins" be a figure of speech?

Let's say a soldier dies on the battlefield fighting for the freedom of his country. Certainly, we could say the soldier "died for our freedom." Yes, his fighting may have contributed to freedom. But his death in itself did not literally produce freedom. 

Otherwise, only one death would be required to guarantee our freedom - which would be nice. But unfortunately, it isn't literally true. Yes, it is a true statement, but it is also a figure of speech.

In the same way, one could say Jesus' body died "for" this cause of helping us reverse our self-centeredness and bring us closer to God - but it must be understood within the context of what Jesus taught while he was alive.

His persecution inherently tells us just how important that mission was, that Jesus would allow himself to be persecuted. In other words, Jesus could have changed his teachings or ran away and gone into hiding in order to escape persecution.

But he didn't, because he and God wanted to show just how important those teachings were. They wanted to show just how important it was for us to consider a change of heart - from self-centeredness to God-centeredness.

In contrast, the translation to "died for our sins" along with its continuous interpretation, alludes to some sort of exchange. Like the death of Jesus' body was somehow a ransom or payment for the debts of our sins. But when the Greek is translated correct - with the meaning of ἁμαρτία as wandering from God's law - and thus not loving Him - there can exist no ransom scenario.

There can be no scenario of ransom because not loving and serving God is cannot get paid back. It can certainly be restored - through God's mercy and Jesus' mercy. But real love is not business. It cannot be ransomed or exchanged.

Jesus' sacrifice was not some sort of ransom as imagined by many institutions and their teachers. Rather, Jesus' life, teachings, and sacrifices all serve to heal or purify our consciousness. They help cleanse our disease of self-centeredness.

Let's consider carefully what sin is. Sin is self-centered activity that harms others. This is opposed to activities done to help others, or activities specifically to please the Supreme Being. These are our two choices in life.

The physical world has been designed in such a way that there is a consequence for every activity performed in self-centeredness. Whether the activity helps others or hurts others, if it is done with our ultimate gain, there is a consequence. 

Whether the gain goes to our physical bodies, our reputation or position - or the gain of our family, club, sect or even country - the activity has a consequence. Activities that help others or help ourselves have positive consequences and activities that hurt others or hurt ourselves have negative consequences. This is God's design, and it is perfect.

Why are there consequences?

Why did the Supreme Being set this consequence system up? Just consider consequence training in the home. Every good parent does this. They reward the child for doing good and introduce negative consequences for doing something bad. Both of these - the reward and negative consequences - are consequences. These help teach the child.

In the same way, the Supreme Being set up the physical world with consequence training to help us grow spiritually. God wants us to return to Him - and come back to the spiritual world. So He set up a system of consequences in order to help us gradually grow - as fast as we wish - in order to return to our original loving relationship with Him.

Just consider how this system works. When we hurt someone's body, the system exerts a consequence that puts our body in a similar situation of being hurt. What does this do? It shows us how it feels. This, in turn, allows us to learn empathy - understanding how it feels helps us to empathize and connect with others. This can gradually teach us the meaning of relationships (relating to others) and eventually - hopefully - the meaning of love: Caring about someone other than ourselves.

You see, our problem is that each of us fell from the spiritual world because we became self-centered. The spiritual world is full of individuals who are God-centered and God's-children-centered. They are full of love and only interested in pleasing God and pleasing others. 

But we chose ourselves over this. We chose to be self-centered. So we were sent to the physical world - a rehabilitation center - to hopefully relearn why we will be happier when we return to our original consciousness of being God-centered instead of self-centered.

So the question then would be, why would God set this beautiful system up in order to help train us to return to the spiritual world where we will ultimately be happy again - only to dismantle it with Jesus' supposed death on the cross?

He didn't. If we look around us, we can see that the law of consequences is still alive and well. When we do something that hurts another, we get hurt. When we help others, we get helped. Sometimes it may take a lifetime or two to get "what's coming," but we always do. For the most part, we see the consequences either immediately or within years.

This increases our learning because we can relate to what we did before to deserve what we have now. No matter how many times a person might go to church and stare at a cross, we will still learn through consequences.

Acting on behalf of pleasing the Supreme Being, on the other hand, is purifying. This helps bring us back to our loving relationship with God.

In reality, Jesus' sacrifice illustrated how important his teachings are - that Jesus was prepared to suffer rather than disavow his teachings. Whenever we see someone sacrifice the life of their physical body for a higher cause - what does that do?

It makes us think about that higher cause. It makes us feel that the higher cause was more important than the life of their physical body, right?

Isn't this the case for Jesus' sacrifice?

The fact that he was willing to be persecuted for his teachings actually indicates the importance of Jesus' teachings. How better to underscore our teachings than to our life because of them?

Yes, Jesus could have disavowed his teachings before Pilate and the high priests at any time. If he did so, they would have surely let him go free. But Jesus refused to do disavow his teachings. At Jesus' trial, Jesus said to Pilate:
"You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me." (John 18:37)
Jesus says his whole purpose for coming here is to "testify to the truth." This means that he came to teach us the truth. It is his teachings that he valued.

If Jesus' purpose for coming here was to die for our sins, this is where he would have said it, right? He would have said, 'the reason I was born and came into the world was to die for your sins." But he didn't. He said that his purpose was to teach us the truth.

This should illustrate to us that it is not specifically the murder of Jesus that has the ability to save us. It is following Jesus' teachings that can save us.

The persecution of Jesus and the subsequent murder of his body serves to bring further attention to those teachings, and the fact that those teachings were more important than the life of the physical body. And what is the sum and substance of Jesus' teachings?
“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment.” (Matt. 22:37-38)
By following this instruction, and refocusing our life towards loving and pleasing the Supreme Being, we are saved. This is how Jesus saves.

*Here is the translation of Jesus' statement according to the Lost Gospels of Jesus:

“I showed you many great deeds from the Creator – for which of these deeds do you stone me for?” (John 10:32)