John 10:22–42—Yet More Conflict

22 It was now winter, and Jesus was in Jerusalem at the time of Hanukkah, the Festival of Dedication. 23 He was in the Temple, walking through the section known as Solomon’s Colonnade. 24 The people surrounded him and asked, “How long are you going to keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.”
25 Jesus replied, “I have already told you, and you don’t believe me. The proof is the work I do in my Father’s name. 26 But you don’t believe me because you are not my sheep. 27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from me, 29 for my Father has given them to me, and he is more powerful than anyone else. No one can snatch them from the Father’s hand. 30 The Father and I are one.”
31 Once again the people picked up stones to kill him. 32 Jesus said, “At my Father’s direction I have done many good works. For which one are you going to stone me?”
33 They replied, “We’re stoning you not for any good work, but for blasphemy! You, a mere man, claim to be God.”
34 Jesus replied, “It is written in your own Scriptures that God said to certain leaders of the people, ‘I say, you are gods!’ 35 And you know that the Scriptures cannot be altered. So if those people who received God’s message were called ‘gods,’ 36 why do you call it blasphemy when I say, ‘I am the Son of God’? After all, the Father set me apart and sent me into the world. 37 Don’t believe me unless I carry out my Father’s work. 38 But if I do his work, believe in the evidence of the miraculous works I have done, even if you don’t believe me. Then you will know and understand that the Father is in me, and I am in the Father.”
39 Once again they tried to arrest him, but he got away and left them. 40 He went beyond the Jordan River near the place where John was first baptizing and stayed there awhile. 41And many followed him. “John didn’t perform miraculous signs,” they remarked to one another, “but everything he said about this man has come true.” 42 And many who were there believed in Jesus.

Points of Interest

  • ‘Jesus was in Jerusalem at the time of Hanukkah’—it seems like in John’s gospel Jesus is always in Jerusalem for a holiday. I wonder why John focuses so much on the holidays. Is John trying to make a further statement about Jesus’ identity by setting the story during various festivals—Jesus basically claiming, ‘I am Passover; I am Hanukkah,’ just like he says, ‘I am the light of the world; I am the bread from heaven’? Or is it just because his story is a very Jerusalem-based story, and the holidays are when Jesus is in Jerusalem?
  • ‘If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly’—he hasn’t exactly been subtle. Just last holiday, he said he happens to have the exact same name as God (8:53).
  • ‘Once again the people picked up stones to kill him’—I’d call these people fickle. They want Jesus to tell them that he is God’s Special Agent. But when he responds by saying that God and he are one, they’re suddenly horribly offended.
  •  ‘I say, you are gods!’—this is Psalm 82:6. I’m not certain, but I think Jesus is toying with them here, poking fun at the wooden and superficial way they treat the Bible. If I’m understanding Jesus and the psalm both correctly, Jesus is doing what we call proof-texting: taking a verse out of context, and using it to prove a point it doesn’t actually intend. Jesus’ argument is, ‘You see, God himself calls people gods. So, what’s the big deal about me calling myself merely a son of God?’ But he’s only using half of the stanza. Add the next verse in, and the overall point of the psalm’s stanza is along the lines of, ‘Say you were gods, I’d still knock you down like any mere mortal.’ Quite a different spin.
  •  ‘many who were there believed in Jesus’—while the focus of the story is firmly on the heated dispute between Jesus and the Pharisees, John still slips in the key detail that in the midst of it all MANY were still coming to Jesus and following him. With the camera narrowed in on the Pharisees, things look pretty grim for Jesus; but pan out a little and the Pharisees aren’t such a big deal after all.

Taking It Home

  • For you: I wonder if it’s easy to overlook the many good things happening in our lives because our problems take center stage. What’s bothering you the most today? Instead of focusing on it, shift your attention away from what’s not working to the things in your life that you are grateful for, past ways that you have seen God work, current ways that you see God working in other areas of your life. See if you can find the MANY ways God is working around you.
  • For your 6: Pray that your 6 would hear Jesus’ voice. Ask Jesus to give them the ability to hear and to speak to them personally in a way that makes sense to them.
  • For our church: The argument in this passage seems especially pointless and hopeless. It’s hard to picture the Pharisees ever sitting down for coffee with Jesus and talking things out civilly. Disagreeing well is a tough thing to pull off. Ask Jesus to help our church somehow be really good at it. Ask Jesus to help us know how to wade through conflicts, and the opinions and emotions that they entail, well.