April 17, 2016
All Scripture from NIV unless otherwise indicated.
“Then came the Feast of Dedication at Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was in the temple area walking in Solomon’s Colonnade. The Jews gathered around him, saying, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.” Jesus answered, “I did tell you, but you do not believe. The miracles I do in my Father’s name speak for me, but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” (John 10: 22 – 30)
We live in a country that likes to celebrate holidays of all kinds. There are only a couple months that we do not have a major holiday in, and depending on when Easter falls, there can be only one month, the month of August.
In the Jewish faith, there were several “Holy Day’s” or festivals that they were required to celebrate according to the law of Moses including Passover, Tabernacles, Pentecost, etc. In addition, there were other feasts or holy days that were added throughout the history of Israel, including the one mentioned in our passage today, the Feast of Dedication. This feast wasn’t celebrated in the Old Testament, but came into existence during the intertestamental period between the close of the Old Testament and the beginning of the New, in about the year 170BC. You and I know this feast today by its modern name, Hanukkah.
The Syrian ruler, Antiochus Epiphanes was a powerful ruler and a devotee of Greek culture. He wanted power over Israel and he was the first pagan king who persecuted the Jews for their religion. As a devotee of Greek culture he worshipped multiple gods. In 167 BC, he made a law and imposed that law on everybody including the Jews. It was a law called Hellenization, from the Greek word which means Greek, or nations, or Gentiles. He wanted to standardize everybody under the Greek culture and the Jews wouldn’t accept any pagan religion. So he entered Jerusalem with a mighty force in 170 BC, and he conquered the temple, and he immediately went inside the temple and slaughtered a pig in the holy of holies. Then, he erected a statue of Zeus there. That was the start of a systematic effort to stamp out Judaism. He was brutal in his oppression of the Jews. They were required to make sacrifices to pagan gods or die.
In the apocrypha (a book of writings included in the Catholic Bible) in the book of 2 Maccabees, we get a historical look at the events that led to the Feast of Dedication. In a nutshell, Judas Maccabeus and his followers, recovered the temple and the city; tore down the altars which had been built in the public square by the foreigners, and also destroyed their sacred precincts. They purified the sanctuary, made another altar of sacrifice; offered sacrifices, burned incense and lighted lamps and set out the bread of the Presence. “And when they had done this, they fell prostrate and besought the Lord that they might never again fall into such misfortunes. Beginning on the twenty-fifth day of Kislev they celebrated for eight days with rejoicing, in the manner of the Feast of Tabernacles They decreed by public ordinance and vote that the whole nation of the Jews should observe these days every year.”
So it was winter time, probably late November or early December, it was cold in Jerusalem and Jesus went to the temple to Solomon’s Colonnade. Solomon’s Colonnade was a covered portion of the temple area where people met to listen to Rabbi’s teach. It was called Solomon’s Colonnade because one of the walls was the only wall left standing from Solomon’s temple.
So as Jesus was teaching, once again he was confronted by the Jews (meaning the Jewish leaders). In pretense of wanting to know if he was the promised Messiah, they asked, how long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly. Really?
In John 2 Jesus cleared the temple and said, “How dare you turn my Father’s house into a market!”
In John 3: 16 – 18 he declared that he was God’s son.
In John 4: he told the woman at the well, concerning the Messiah, “I who speak to you am he.”
In John 5 Jesus gave a long discourse concerning eternal life through the Son in relation to the Father.
Over and over again by his words and, as he states here in John 10, by his miracles, Jesus showed plainly that he was the Christ. The truth is, these Jews didn’t really care. They didn’t really want a Messiah that would only mess up their power base, (kind of sounds like our political system today, doesn’t it). They simply wanted to get him to say yes, I am the Messiah, I am the son of God, I am God, and so they could arrest him for blasphemy.
What was Jesus response? “I did tell you but you do not believe!” You can’t get much plainer than that. I have done miracles in my Father’s name, but you do not believe. Then he laid down the hammer on them. “You do not believe because you are not my sheep!”
Bam! In Matthew 25 Jesus told a parable about the sheep and the goats. You know the story, those who have done these things to the least have done them unto me and they will be welcomed into the kingdom. Those who have not done these things will be turned away and cast into the eternal fire.
I don’t know about you but in biblical terminology I would rather be a sheep that follows Jesus into the kingdom of God rather than a goat that is rejected by God and condemned to eternal judgment and fire.
Jesus told them, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”
Conclusion: Friends, there are only two choices when it comes to eternity. Both involve eternal life. One involves eternity with Christ in heaven. I can’t tell you what that’s going to be like exactly. We only get glimpses of what heaven looks like and what we will be like and what we will be doing in heaven. But the glimpses we get are all pretty good.
On the other hand, those who reject Jesus as the Christ will be raised the bible tells us in Revelation 20, to stand before the great white throne for judgment. If their names are not found in the book of life (which they won’t be) they will be thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is called the second death but according to verse 10 of Revelation 20, it will be a place of torment day and night for ever and ever.
The choice is yours. You can have security in the hands of Jesus, vs 28, security in the hands of God, vs 29, or you can take your chances when you stand before the great white throne on judgment day.