I came across it again yesterday in a Facebook thread. A local Muslim was claiming that Jesus never says that he is the Son of God, but that it’s only his mistaken followers who claimed this about him. So I posted this often-overlooked verse into the discussion:
…do you say of him whom the Father consecrated and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’? (John 10:36 ESV)
There it is. This is Jesus speaking about himself. And he directly says, “I said, ‘I am the Son of God.'” I think this may be the only place in scripture where Jesus himself makes this direct and obvious a claim to the title, Son of God. Yes, there are dozens and dozens of other ways in which Jesus makes this same statement in other forms. Many of these ways are indirect, but some of them only seem indirect to us, removed as we are from the worldview of first century Judaism.
Ironically, many Muslim apologists will reject these seeming-indirect claims to Jesus’ divinity (e.g. “the Son of man has authority to forgive sins”) when they themselves come from a culture steeped and skilled in indirect communication. It’s helpful sometimes to point out, “Listen, friend, Jesus was a Middle Easterner! He teaches like a Middle Eastern teacher, where a lot can be clearly stated indirectly” (In Middle Eastern and Central Asian cultures, a “no” even means “yes” the first couple times an invitation is extended). At the same time, as long as Muslims and others continue to repeat the line that Jesus never claimed the title Son of God for himself, John 10:36 is there. Strangely absent from many of these discussions, yes, but there nonetheless, ready for a gentle but painfully true refutation that can advance the conversation onto fertile ground.