Perhaps no other passage in the Bible offers more hope and assurance to the souls of humanity than this one. Woven into today’s reading is the story of betrayal and faithfulness, captivity and freedom, suffering and hope, despair and mercy, darkness and light. The beloved John captures our imaginations while recounting the events of Jesus’ last Hanukkah celebration and offers to us a lesson we must never forget.
Podcast: Scheduled for 10/21/16
Section 111 | Another Attempt to Stone or Arrest Jesus for Blasphemy at the Feast of Dedication
22 It was the Feast of the Dedication at Jerusalem.1 23 It was winter,2 and Jesus was walking in the temple, in Solomon’s porch.3 24 The Jews therefore4 came around him and said to him, “How long will you hold us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.” 25 Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you don’t believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name, these testify about me. 26 But you don’t believe, because you are not of my sheep, as I told you.5 27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give eternal life to them.6 They will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.7 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all. No one is able to snatch them out of my Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.” 31 Therefore Jews took up stones again to stone him. 32 Jesus answered them, “I have shown you many good works from my Father. For which of those works do you stone me?” 33 The Jews answered him, “We don’t stone you for a good work, but for blasphemy: because you, being a man, make yourself God.” 34 Jesus answered them, “Isn’t it written in your law, ‘I said, you are gods?’ 35 If he called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture can’t be broken), 36 do you say of him whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, ‘You blaspheme,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God?’ 37 If I don’t do the works of my Father, don’t believe me. 38 But if I do them, though you don’t believe me, believe the works; that you may know and believe that the Father is in me, and I in the Father.” 39 They sought again to seize him, and he went out of their hand.
- What experiences of shame, failure, rejection, captivity have haunted your soul and troubled your mind?
- There are some who feel they should not be embraced by the Love of God and the security of the finished work of Christ. Do you feel yourself to be one of His his sheep or more similar to those faithfully religious people gathered there at the Porch of Solomon?
- How can someone whose salvation does not depend in the slightest upon human effort or merit, but entirely on the power of God and the merits of Christ, be lost by some human act, either by the mind or by the body?
Learning Objectives: Grace, I am my beloved’s, eternal security, redemption, Messiah.
- That is Hanukkah (Chanukah, sometimes called the “Festival of Lights”) – commemorating the re-dedication of the 2nd Temple, the victory of faith over reason. (Video: Mapping the History of Nations) In 333BC Alexander the Great conquered Syria, Egypt, Babylonia and cultivated a wide-spread Hellenistic Culture which ran contrary to much of the Torah-based ethics and faith. By 167BC (1 Maccabees) the impositions and offenses against the Jewish people were so intense that a rebellion broke out (165BC) led by Judah Maccabee evicting the Syrian-Greeks from the temple – which then needed purifying and a re-dedication having been defiled by sacrifices of pigs and other gods during the occupation. Read more about Hanukkah. Watch this video about the political environment at this time in Jerusalem. The traditional 8-day celebration (Kislev 25-Tevet 3, this year that would be December 24, 2016-Jan 1, 2017 – see Jewish Holidays) honors also the oil for the menorah in the Temple which miraculously sustained its flame though there was not enough sanctified oil to last the re-dedication ceremony. Most scholars agree that event occurred during the Hanukkah Festival in the Winter Dec-Jan, 31-32 AD.
- Hanukkah Jan-Dec, 29-30 or as late as Jan32AD. Because Talmud forbids the use of its 7-branch menorah outside of the Temple, households and synagogues today use a modern-day chanukiah – a special menorah, used only at Hanukkah, having 8 branches plus a special candle called a Shamash. The Shamash is considered to be the servant candle, as it is used to light the other 8 candles. Each night of Hanukkah, one additional candle is added to the hanukkiah, lit by the Shamash which also remains lit. For completed Jews, the Shamash holds special meaning as it symbolizes Jesus as the servant leader – the light of the world.
- Attached to the Solomon’s Temple was a large porch 45’x75′ on which Judgement was passed in days of old. It was was located on the east side of the temple and according to Josephus was one section which survived the Chaldean attach wherein Jesus often taught and later his disciples would gather (See commentary re Acts 5:1). Was Jesus there celebrating Hanukkah? – Most likely he was.
- Therefore – is referring to the wide-spread hope among the Jews – a result of the Maccabean revolt – that God would provide a Messiah who would at last overthrow any trace of the Seleucid (Syrian) or Roman rule and establish Israel itself once again as an independent kingdom devoted to and ruled by God alone. The Jews hope for a Messiah began as early as the sixth century BC, while the Jews were exiled in Babylonia. While some hoped for a military leader, others – like the author of the Psalms of Solomon, anticipated a Messiah who would be charismatic teacher devoted to imparting a correct interpretation of Mosaic law.
- While earlier John uses OT metaphors in the Bread of Life discourse in (John 6) and reference to the Feast of Booths (Chps 7-9) here he seems to be emphasizing Jesus’ fulfillment of the feasts, and in particular of the temple – that dwells within.
- As summarized by J.F. Strombeck in his book, Shall Never Perish, Chpt 6: “The saved person has been redeemed from under the law (Galatians 4:5), and the curse of the law (Galatians 3:13), by an eternal redemption (Hebrews 9:12). He is dead to the law (Romans 7:4), and shall not come into condemnation (John 5:24, Romans 8:1). He is reconciled to God (Second Corinthians 5:18), and is at peace with him (Colossians 1:20). He is justified (Romans 5:1), and all sins have been forgiven (Colossians 2:13). He has been rescued from the power of darkness and brought into the kingdom of the Son of God (Colossians 1:13). He has been born again of imperishable seed (First Peter 1:23); is a son of God (John 1:12); and has eternal life (John 5:24). He is a new creature (Second Corinthians 5:17). He is perfected forever (Hebrews 10:14); is complete in Christ (Colossians 2:10); and has been accepted by God (Ephesians 1:6). He has been born of the Spirit (John 3:6); baptized by the Spirit (First Corinthians 12:13); is lived in by the Spirit forever (John 14:16, 17); and has been sealed (or security marked) with the Spirit for the day of redemption (Ephesians 4:30). He has become the object of God’s love (Ephesians 2:4), of his grace (Romans 6:14), of his power (Ephesians 1:19), and of his faithfulness (First Corinthians 1:9). He is a citizen of heaven (Ephesians 2:19 and Philippians 3:20); is seated with Christ in the heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6); and is already glorified (Romans 8:30).”
- Strombeck also writes: “Five separate statements are made concerning “My sheep”: (1) Listen to My voice, (2) I know them, (3) they follow Me, (4) I give them eternal life and (5) they shall never perish. These are five distinct things said about those who are his sheep. Not one is conditional upon any other.” (download a summary of Strombeck’s book).