Festival of Dedication (John 10:22-39)

Submitted by admin on Tue, 2008-06-10 10:15.

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The Festival of Dedication (Hanukkah), for which Jesus and his disciples had come to Jerusalem, lasted eight days, starting on the twenty-fifth day of Chislev (mid-November to mid-December). It commemorated the rededication of the temple after the Levite Judas Maccabeus and his forces had recaptured Jerusalem and cleansed the temple of defilement. According to 1 Maccabees 4:52-54, this rededication occurred on the twenty-fifth day of the ninth month (Chislev), in the year 148. (The year 148 in 1 Maccabees is reckoned according to the Greek or Seleucid era and corresponds to 164 BCE.) This was three years after Antiochus IV Epiphanes of the Seleucid dynasty had defiled the temple, and the very day on which swine began to be offered on the altar that had been erected on top of the altar of burnt offering. (1 Maccabees 1:59; Josephus, Antiquities, XII, v, 4)

Probably because of the winter weather, Jesus walked in the Portico of Solomon, a sheltered area of the temple precincts. (John 10:22, 23) The writings of Josephus indicate that Solomon had a portico built on the east side of the temple. (War, V, v, 1) Although this portico was destroyed by the Babylonians, the one that Herod the Great rebuilt centuries later continued to be known as the Portico of Solomon.

Unbelieving Jews surrounded Jesus and challengingly said to him, “How long are you going to keep our soul [us] in suspense? If you are the Christ [the Messiah], tell us outright.” “I did tell you,” he replied, “and you do not believe. The works which I am doing in my Father’s name testify about me, but you do not believe, for you are not of my sheep.” When performing miracles and other works of power, Jesus acted in his Father’s name or as the one whom his Father had empowered and whom he represented. These works revealed that the Father had sent him, providing the needed testimony to verify Jesus’ words and serving to identify him as the Christ, the Son of God. The unbelieving Jews, however, refused to accept this testimony. They demonstrated thereby that they were not Jesus’ sheep, for they did not acknowledge him as their caring shepherd. (John 10:24-26; see the Notes section regarding John 10:26.)

Those who were his sheep listened to his voice, and he knew them, recognizing them as belonging to him. As sheep follow their shepherd, those who put faith in Jesus followed him. From Jesus, they received eternal life, coming to enjoy an enduring relationship with him and his Father. Never would they be destroyed. Their security was firmly assured, for no one could rip them out of Jesus’ hand. (John 10:27, 28)

Manuscripts vary in the reading of Jesus’ words about his Father. According to one reading, what the Father had given to the Son is greater than everything else, and no one would be able to snatch it (or them [there is no pronoun in the Greek text]) out of the Father’s hands. This could mean that the full authority of Jesus is greater than everything else, and, as the ultimate source of that authority, the Father would not permit it to be seized from his hand. A more likely meaning would be that “what” was given refers to the “sheep” collectively and no one would be able to snatch them (or anything) out of his Father’s hand. Their being greater than everything else would then indicate that they are very precious to the Father and under his protective care. This would make them greater than those who would seek their injury. Another reading indicates that the Father, who gave the sheep to Jesus, is greater than all and that no one would be able to snatch the sheep (or anything) out of his Father’s hand. (John 10:29; see the Notes section.) The fact that the Father is greater than all assured the absolute safety of the sheep.

In the care and protection of the sheep, Jesus and his Father are united in purpose. As Jesus expressed it, “I and the Father are one.” (John 10:30; compare the similar expression pointing to oneness of purpose in 1 Corinthians 3:8, where the apostle Paul refers to the one planting and the one watering as being one.)

Upon hearing words that reflected the intimate relationship Jesus enjoyed with his Father and his confidence about being fully at one with him, the unbelieving Jews became enraged. They picked up stones to hurl at him. In response to Jesus’ question for which one of the many good works he had shown them from his Father they intended to stone him, they replied, “We are not stoning you for a good work, but for blasphemy, because you, [although] being a man, make yourself God.” (John 10:31-33)

Jesus then referred to the Scriptures or the holy writings as their “law” and quoted from Psalm 82:6, “I said, You are gods.” In this passage, the psalmist portrayed God as addressing corrupt judges. Since, as Jesus pointed out, it was against these unjust judges that God’s word of judgment was directed (and which word could not be set aside by those to whom Jesus spoke), what basis did they have for accusing him (the one whom the Father had sanctified and sent into the world) of blasphemy for saying, “I am God’s Son”? (John 10:34-36)

If he did not do his Father’s works, they should not believe him. If, however, he did them, and they still did not believe in him, they should at least believe or recognize the good works as being from the Father. Belief in the Father as the source of the good works would have provided them with the basis for believing that the Father was “in” or at one with Jesus and that he was “in” the Father or at one with him. The unbelieving Jews then again tried to get hold of the Son of God, but he slipped out of their hands. (John 10:37-39)


In John 10:26, numerous manuscripts, after Jesus’ words “you are not of my sheep,” add “as I told you.”

Depending upon which manuscript reading of John 10:29 is being followed, translations convey various meanings. “What my Father has given me is greater than all else, and no one can snatch it out of the Father’s hand.” (NRSV) “My Father gave them to me, and he is greater than all others. No one can snatch them from his hands.” (CEV) “My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all. And no one can tear anything out of the Father’s hand.” (Phillips) “The Father, for what he has given me, is greater than anyone, and no one can steal anything from the Father’s hand.” (NJB)