This Sunday we’ll be examining John 10:22-42.
John provides the setting for this section, informing us that it was winter and during the Feast of Dedication. That means its a good three months after the last time frame we were given, the Feast of Tabernacles. John, remember, isn’t as interested in a chronological account as much as he is in grouping things thematically. This particular holiday provides a symbolic backdrop for the drama to unfold before. The Feast of Dedication is known today as Hanukkah. You can read about the history of this festival HERE.
In this section, Jesus makes the most perspicuous statement about his identity and nature that we’ll find in all the gospels. In v 31, Jesus claims to share a unity with God the Father – which is difficult to read as anything but a self-identification of divinity.
The embrace of Jesus as deity is what ties us to historic Christianity and orthodoxy – but its more than that. If Jesus weren’t divine, then all of the ways he describes his relationship to his sheep would become meaningless outside of his immediate time-frame. He could know and lead his sheep that were with him 2,000 years ago – but if he was just an ordinary human then we in the present have no shepherd. We would merely be followers of an ancient ideal – an impersonal history.
However, with the embrace of Jesus as God (not understanding it, mind you, but embracing it), all of his descriptions of his interaction with his sheep are in full effect in the present tense.
As you read this section, look at how he describes his relationship to his sheep. What does he promise to provide? Could he provide this to us if he were simply a good man, or even a prophet? What promise encourages you the most in this section?
The religious leaders understood what Jesus was saying in v31 and react accordingly. In response to an immediate threat, Jesus quotes Psalm 82:6 . John Piper believes that this was a deflection on Jesus’ part – meant to show that there is Scriptural precedent for identifying oneself with God. N.T. Wright, on the other hand, believes Jesus meant this as a contrast – that the judges of Israel were given the task of rightly representing God’s ways on the earth (hence they are called “gods”), but failed to do so. Jesus, however, has done so perfectly and has every right to claim the place of being united with God’s divinity. He sees it as Jesus pointing out their hypocrisy and failure to see how God was dedicating a new temple right under their noses.
Again the leaders want to arrest him, but as they encircle him and lunge for him, he’s gone and they end up grabbing each other (at least, that’s the way a cartoonist imagines it). Kevin Barron points out that Solomon’s colonnade was on the eastern side of the temple mount, so he may have slipped out through there and escaped the clutches of religion through the….East….gate. heh.
As it relates to the deity of Jesus, what do their attempts to stop Jesus and his message amount to? If Jesus is God, what can stop him or his message today?
It’s an interesting passage and should prove to be a compelling study. Hope to see you on Sunday!