17 November 2014

Encountering Jesus ~ He IS Messiah

The works I do in my Father’s name testify about 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 will 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.”
Again his Jewish opponents picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus said to them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?”
“We are not stoning you for any good work,” they replied, “but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.” (John 10.26-33)

Jesus had taught a parable - the good shepherd versus the thief.

Then, the Jews make a request:
"Tell us plainly... Have you come to take away our souls?"

They just DID. NOT. get it, did they?

Before diving into this text, read this brief summary from InterVarsity New Testament Commentaries: 
Jesus has withdrawn from the temple (8:59) and begun to gather around him a community distinct from official Judaism (chap. 9). He has interpreted his activity as the divine shepherd's gathering the flock of God (10:1-21) and has concluded with a reference to the authority God has given him to lay down his life and take it back again (10:18), echoing what he had said in his first public teaching to these Jewish leaders concerning his body, the temple (2:19-22). Now he returns to the vicinity of the temple, though not to the temple proper. Solomon's Colonnade (10:23) was an open, roofed 45-foot walkway with double columns that were 38 feet tall. It was situated along the east side of the Court of Gentiles (Westerholm 1988:772). Although it was part of the temple complex, it was not considered to be part of the actual temple (Brown 1966:402), as evidenced by the fact that Gentiles were not allowed into the temple but they could be present in Solomon's Colonnade. Thus, Jesus' departure from the temple at the end of chapter 8 was final. But now, right next to the temple, at a feast commemorating the rededication of the temple, Jesus gives his clearest teaching about his own identity. It is this identity that is the grounds for his replacement of the temple as the place where forgiveness of sins is available and God is to be met. "Christ in fact perfectly accomplished what the Maccabees wrought in a figure, and dedicated a new and abiding temple" (Westcott 1908:2:64). Jesus also clearly spells out the separation between himself and the Jewish leaders.
photo credit: freestone via photopin cc

Jesus has told them, and even if He has not told them in uncertain terms, as bluntly - perhaps - as they would have preferred, His message should have been unmistakable. The Jews, with their knowledge of prophecy, the hearing of Jesus speak (for example John 7:37 John 7:38 , John 8:12 John 8:35 John 8:36 John 8:58and the clear testimony of His actions verifying both prophecy and His Words, should have clearly recognized Him for what He was... the long awaited Messiah. 

The problem is not a lack of clarity on the part of Jesus. Rather, it is that these Jews are not of His fold... they've understood exactly what He is saying, but they cannot believe and accept because they are not His sheep.

But oh... the benefits for His sheep:
  • His sheep listen to His voice - in other words, His sheep get to hear God's voice which prompts God to birth faith within; 
  • Jesus knows His followers - the kind of first-hand personal experience that comes through prolonged acquaintance;
  • They get to follow Him or to go to be in the same way with Jesus, accompanying Him specifically as a disciple;
  • Jesus gives His sheep eternal life - an amazing gift because in Him, they experience the unique reality of God's life at work within. The Lord manifests His self-existent life as it is in His sinless abode of heaven and His sheep will partake of that. Eternal life operates simultaneously outside of time, inside of time, and beyond time and while time is what gives everlasting meaning for the believer through faith, eternal also means time-independent. (Try wrapping your head around all of that!);
  • His sheep shall never perish - they will never be fully, permanently and utterly destroyed;
  • no one will snatch them out of His hand - no thief can access them as they are kept in His hand
  • these sheep are a gift to Jesus, from His Almighty Father, Who also holds them in His hand;

Then Jesus makes a statement that gives so much peace and confidence to the hearts of His sheep... but inflames the Jews. He states, "I and the Father are one.”

I found this paragraph (from the InterVarsity New Testament Commentaries) to be particularly helpful as I've sought to understand this passage: "His sheep are safe in his hand (v. 28) and his Father's hand (v. 29). The implication of such a juxtaposition comes with Jesus' climactic claim, I and the Father are one (v. 30). What is this oneness? In the context Jesus is speaking of God's love, care and power and his own claim to share in these. Such a claim to oneness with God is not a claim to deity, since the same unity with God is true of Christians, who share in God's very life and are participants in his will, love, activity and power. Thus Jesus is one with the Father in the same way believers are. But even when this language is used of Christians it is made clear that their oneness with God is mediated to them by Christ (17:22-23). Jesus' own oneness with the Father includes these aspects, but it also is of a completely different order (cf. 8:58). The Father not only gave Jesus life, as he has done for believers, but has made him the giver of life (5:21), a divine attribute illustrated in what Jesus says about the bread (chap. 6) and the water (chap. 7) and which will be climactically demonstrated in the raising of Lazarus (chap. 11). So this figure of the hand is not just about sharing in God's power or exercising God's power; it is part of his claim to equality with God. It implies a oneness in essence since "infinite power is an essential attribute of God; and it is impossible to suppose that two beings distinct in essence could be equal in power" (Westcott 1908:2:68; cf. Chrysostom In John 61.2; Augustine In John 48.7). Here, then, is a powerful claim to deity. The opponents take it as such (v. 33), and Jesus does not deny that interpretation.

The reaction of the Jews is to prepare to stone Him. They asked Him to tell them plainly if He was or was not the promised Messiah. He says He is - but even at that, they never expected their Messiah to claim equality and oneness with God. Stop and think about the craziness of what actually occurs here. A crowd of angry, deeply offended people are gathering stones to start throwing them at Him with intent to kill. Instead of fleeing for His life, or "disappearing" as He does at another time, He gently tries to explain - always seeking to bring them to faith and into the fold. Talk about amazing grace!

But it has me thinking about how often we seek to kill... or silence... the One Who offers... or has already given us... life.

He appeals to them, based their experience of what He has done:  good works, meaning things both great and admirable, things that demonstrate great power but also moral excellence, the things that would be expected of a good shepherd. The proper response to the works of Jesus should have been admiration, humility, thankfulness, praise, awe... instead He received anger, hatefulness, and evil intentions. 

I wonder if it hurt Jesus when they accused Him of blasphemy...???
this week's gratitude list

(#'s 4931 - 4954)

a successful wisdom teeth extraction - and relatively minimal pain resulting (now for the swelling to go down!)

convicting sermon at church on Sunday night

Christmas shopping with Gammie

a really cool arts and craft fair with the kiddos over the weekend

basketball practice

cheerleading practice

a college fair at the Creation Science Museum

college apps, essays, test scores and transcripts... all over again

being able to make a late night run to the grocery store

snow ploughs

that moment when I overheard the girls discussing that they felt like they were living inside a snow globe and God had shaken it up so the snow was fluttering every direction

the gift of two cases of Coke

weekends in a deer blind with Daddy and her Chromebook

birds of prey up close and personal

friends traveling safely

looking forward to homemade waffles this week - to go with my homemade syrup

starting to enjoy my study through Psalms, since the psalms have always been harder than average scriptures for me to enjoy

heaters on cold winter mornings

actual checking a few things off that never-ending, ever-growing checklist

an upcoming Shakespeare competition for my big girl

snow shovels

finding my electric blanket (now to get it plugged in)

homemade biscuits that turned out just right and fluffy and perfect (since it doesn't happen very often!)

Ten most recent posts in this series: 
Click here for all of the titles and their corresponding links in the Encountering Jesus series.

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