Ireland just voted on a referendum to change a blasphemy law in their constitution. It had been on the books since 1937. The idea was to avoid causing offense to any religious group by showing disrespect. Stephen Fry in 2017 came closest to being prosecuted when on a RTE program he said, “Why should I respect a capricious, mean-minded, stupid God who creates a world that is so full of injustice and pain?” Police dropped the matter when they were unable to find, “a substantial number of outraged people.”
Today’s verse has an accusation of blasphemy against Jesus. These Jewish opponents understood very clearly that Jesus was presenting Himself as God when He said, “I and the Father are one.” (verse 30) However, it is no blasphemy to speak truth, even when it does offend! The word, “blasphemy” in the Old Testament is used for cursing, reviling or despising God. In the New Testament it is expanded to include insults and unjust accusations towards others. So in fact, in these verses, the only blasphemy spoken was on the part of His Jesus’ opponents unjustly accusing Him!
Reading horrible quotes like the one above makes me indignant. It is not easy to read or hear blasphemy spoken about the Lord. He is so dear to me that it hurts to hear His name maligned, misrepresented, and dragged through the dirt. But it comforts me to know there is coming a day when EVERY knee will bow at His name (Phil. 2:10) In the meantime, I want my attitude to be as gracious and forgiving as His was on the cross.
“Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.”