In the writings of the New Testament, there is a feast call ‘The Feast of Dedication,” and that feast is the backdrop for some of Jesus’ most striking declarations.
If you haven’t read ‘The First Day,’ you can do that here.
If you haven’t read ‘The Second Day,’ you can do that here.
Returning to the 10th chapter of the Gospel of John, we find Jesus gathering at the Feast of Dedication or Festival of Lights (Hanukkah).
“Then came the Festival of Dedication at Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was in the temple courts walking in Solomon’s Colonnade.” (John 10:22–24)
Having already discussed Yeshua’s first 2 striking declarations, I’d like to move on to the third:
“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.”
You’ve probably heard that before. :-) What makes this a striking declaration is that usually sheep, when they’re people, belong only to God. “You are my sheep, the sheep of my pasture, and I am your God, declares the Sovereign LORD.” (Ezekiel 34:31) Jesus is making a very bold proposition and a daring conclusion. He’s telling those gathered for Hanukkah that 1. they are not ‘His’ sheep, and 2. that they disbelieve what He is teaching because they are not His sheep.
I’ve often wondered if real sheep listened to and knew the voice of their shepherd. I found this interesting snippet:
“A stranger once declared to a Syrian shepherd that the sheep knew the dress and not the voice of their master. The shepherd said it was the voice they knew. To prove this, he exchanged dresses with the stranger, who went among the sheep in the shepherd’s dress, calling the sheep in imitation of the shepherd’s voice, and tried to lead them. They knew not his voice, but when the shepherd called them, though he was disguised, the sheep ran at once at his call.” — Orientalisms in Bible Lands, by E. W. Rice, pp. 159–161.
The sheer boldness of Jesus’ first three statements to those gathered for Hanukkah provide ample material for meditation. In this third declaration, Jesus again makes a deep and perhaps mystical inference to the nature of his relationship with the Father. Each succeeding statement gets exponentially more bold, and each of the upcoming responses — more deadly.
Hanukkah’s celebration by the Jews remembers a time of persecution and attempted secular dominance. It remembers a defilement of the temple and its reclamation and rededication. It remembers both a time of inner civil religious war and a military engagement on the outskirts.
I am ‘doing’ Hanukkah this year because I believe that Yeshua chose to engage its observers some 2000 years ago with a message that makes much more sense when we understand its backdrop. I want to hear Yeshua’s voice. I want to know that the victory, both from within and without, belong to the Lord.
“because everyone born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world: our faith.” (1 John 5:4)
Leave a comment, click the little clapping hands on the left, and come back tomorrow for ‘The Fourth Day.”