Text– 22 At that time the Feast of Dedication took place at Jerusalem. It was winter, 23 and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the colonnade of Solomon. 24 So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.” 25 Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness about me, 26 but you do not believe because you are not among my sheep. 27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me,[a] is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.” (John 10:22-30 ESV)
Summary–John often uses scenes and seasons to build on his explanation that Jesus is the Christ, the son of God. Here in our text, John uses the timeframe of the feast of lights or Dedication to teach how Jesus’ enemies misunderstood all the words and works of Jesus. While celebrating a festival surrounded by light, these Jews were in the dark and completely missed what Jesus taught and did about himself. The scene begins “at the time the feast of Dedication took place in Jerusalem” (vv.1) which commemorated the purification of the temple by Judas the Maccabee in the year 165 B.C. after it had been defiled by the wicked Antiochus Epiphanes. By keeping lamps lit seven days when there was only enough oil for one day, Jews remembered God’s protection for them. By this one miracle, Jews looked to him coming back to rescue them from their enemies. With this backdrop in mind, John recounts the confrontation between the Jews who wanted another miracle, and Jesus, who for the past three years gave enough miracles to fill the candlesticks of the temple 70 x 7 days.
Insight–When was the last time you spoke to an unbeliever who just wanted some clear evidence for the existence of God? “I want to believe”, they say, “but their just isn’t enough proof for me to believe. These questions might be valid if evidence or plain speech were lacking. But if there is enough evidence and they still don’t want to believe, then all that is going on here is an attempt to avoid responsibility and shift blame away from their prideful rebellion. This is exactly what is going on in the text before us. John’s gospel is filled with evidence (what he calls signs) to make his point that Christ is indeed the Son of God. John records the miracle at Cana of changing water into wine (2:1-11). He told of the healing of the nobleman’s son (4:46-54). He told of the feeding of the five thousand (6:1-14) as well as the healing of the blind man from birth (9:1-41). The greatest miracle up to this point was the raising of Lazarus (11:1-44). Each miracle pointed to Jesus that he was the Messiah. Yet this is not enough, the Jews wanted more. “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly” (vv.24).
People in our day want the same evidence. They can’t believe the Scriptures because they are full of error and can’t be proven. How blind these people are to the truth. There are more than 24,000 manuscript copies of various books of the Bible, manywithin 50-150 years of the original documents being written, yet there is not enough proof. But how much evidence do we have for Plato’s works? The earliest copy we have for Plato was written 1200 years after he lived and there are only 7 copies of his works in exidence and yet there is no question that these texts are true.
If the evidence is so plain, why doesn’t everyone believe? The Jews ask for a plain answer, and Jesus gives it to them. He tells them that on their own, they will not believe that he is God. Only those who are called by him graciously will ever believe this to be true. We are blinded by our sin until he calls us. We can’t see until the Holy Spirit opens our eyes. Do you believe? Are you His sheep? Have you been baptised into his body and called into his fold? If you have, trust the words of the Bible and the works of our Lord. If you are not, then ask for mercy and grace to see this reality. Jesus is the Christ. God grant that it might be so increasingly for Jesus’ sake.
Catechism–(Q) How do we know that Jesus is the Christ? (A) By his words and works we plainly know that he is God.
Discussion–Why did Jesus answer John the Baptist the way he did in Matthew 11 when asked if Jesus was the Messiah? Why didn’t he just plainly say, “yes”?
Prayer–Father God, we thank you for calling us out of darkness and into the light of your son. Lord give us the strength to proclaim your love to our friends and neighbors knowing that you alone can heal their blind eyes and break their hard hearts. We pray for a more manifestly glorious church that would confidently take your image to the world, that your glory would fill the earth as the waters cover the sea. In Jesus name we pray, Amen.
Contributed by Michael Fenimore