Day 8 – Christ, One with the Father

Read – John 10:22-42

This the only mention of Hanukkah, the Feast of Dedication, in the Bible. In this time of celebrating the rededication of the Temple following the Maccabean revolt, Jesus makes yet another clear declaration of His divinity, “I and the Father are one” (v. 30). The Jews (i.e. the religious leaders) wanted to stone Jesus because they thought He spoke blaspheme as a mere man claiming to be God, and regardless of the miracles Jesus performed, if He was a false prophet speaking blasphemy that’s exactly what the Law required them to do. Jesus went on to tell them that the works He had done proved that what He said was true; “the Father is in me and I am in the Father” (v. 38).

They still wanted  to arrest Jesus refusing to believe, but He escaped and returned to the Jordan where John the Baptist had first baptized in water. Many who had heard Jesus at the Temple found Him there saying among themselves, “John did no sign, but everything that John said about this man was true;” as a result “many believed in him there” (vv. 41-42). The Greek word translated believed pisteuō also means commit unto, or commit to one’s trust. In other words, during the Feast of Dedication or Hanukkah we see people dedicate themselves to Jesus as their Messiah.

The story began saying that during the winter Feast of Dedication Jesus was walking in the temple, in the colonnade of Solomon” (John 10:23). Let us ask the LORD to give us wisdom to understand. Just as Jesus walked through the actual Temple in Jerusalem, may we see that He now walks among us; He is the one like a son of man “in the midst of the lampstands” (Rev. 1:13). Like those along the Jordan, we too need to pisteuō, commit or dedicate ourselves afresh to Jesus as our LORD.

Paul asked the Corinthians, “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?” (1 Cor. 3:16). Peter said as we come to Jesus, a living stone rejected by men but precious to God that “you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house” (2 Pt. 2:5). Likewise, as Stephen observed before He was put to death, “the Most High does not dwell in houses made by hands” (Acts 7:48). I find this amazing; you and I as followers of Jesus are being built together into the LORD’S dwelling place.

And yet like Judas Maccabeus and the Jews oppressed by Antiochus in the second century BC, we too have an enemy that wants to desecrate God’s Temple. Let us heed the warnings of scripture. “God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life.” (1 Thes. 4:7 NIV); “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Pt. 5:8).

Yet how often have I given into temptation sinning against the  LORD desecrating His temple? Like Paul, “I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. . . I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing” (Rom. 7:15, 19).

On this final day of our season of dedication, I remember again that I too need to rededicate the LORD’S temple just like the Maccabees. Yet I cannot purify myself with good deed, or redouble my efforts to do what is right. I must call upon Jesus; He alone is able to cleanse me by His blood so I might again be a dwelling place fit for the presence of God Almighty.

LORD Jesus, I ask again today that you will come and cleanse me of my sin; keep my heart from evil and my lips from speaking lies. Holy Spirit, empower me anew  “to act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly in all I do and say (Mic. 6:8). Thank You, LORD that what I ask is Your desire for me, to dedicate my life to You – today and everyday.

Day 7 – Christ, The Good Shepherd

As American Christians we like to talk about our personal salvation. But what Jesus said and did is not for “you” or for “me.” Our Good Shepherd’s desire is to bring us together as “one flock.”

Read – John 10:11-21

Most listening to Him that day did not understand the full implications of what it meant for Jesus to lay down His life as the Good Shepherd, and if we are not careful we will miss it too.

Jesus is the Good Shepherd. A comparison is made between the Good Shepherd and the hired hand. The Good Shepherd will lay down His life for His sheep, but the hired hand thinks only of himself and not the security of the sheep.

Sheep are defenseless. When a predator comes they will begin to run and scatter leaving the young and weak to be picked off one by one. The sheep need a shepherd who will defend them even at the risk of their own lives. We have such a Good Shepherd in Jesus who stands between us and death; He laid down His life so we might live.

Jesus goes on to say that no one takes His life. Our advisory the devil, who is described as a “roaring lion seeking someone to devour” (1 Pt. 5:8), will not overpower the Good Shepherd. Instead in laying down His life Jesus also has power “to take it up again” (Jn. 10:18). What looks like Jesus’ ultimate defeat is actually a strategic move to triumph over the devil’s schemes against us.

As we read Jesus’ words here, it is easy for us to focus on our Good Shepherd’s willingness to lay down His life on our behalf. This gives us reason to rejoice for we have nothing to fear. If our LORD overcame death then no matter how the enemy may come against us we too will live with Christ.

But let’s not miss the one thing impacting us as believers today. Most listening to Him that day did not understand the full implications of what it meant for Jesus to lay down His life as the Good Shepherd, and if we are not careful we will miss it too. Jesus said, “And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.” (Jn. 10:16).

I find it interesting that among the Jews listening to Jesus that day John points out that they were divided (see vv. 19-21). Some rejected Jesus and what He said believing Him to be demon possessed and  out of His mind. But others reasoned a demon could not open the eyes of a blind man, so perhaps there was something to what Jesus said. Will we take the time to ponder His word and allow the Holy Spirit to teach us all that His words mean for us?

As believers today most of us are beneficiaries of the work of the Good Shepherd for we who were once outsiders have now been included. The Gentiles or non-Jews are the sheep not of this fold who would hear Jesus voice (i.e. His Words) and would be brought into His flock. In this way, “there will be one flock, one shepherd.”  The Jews believed their Messiah would rescue their people, but Jesus made it clear that He did not lay down His life for only the Jews, but for everyone who would believe in Him that they might all be united as one in Him.

When we look at our communities do we see the “one flock” Jesus spoke of, or is His church like the Jews that day – divided by His words? Even within the local church we attend is there unity and peace among members or is there discord? If we are truly members of His flock, and if we hear His voice then can we hear our Good Shepherd calling us back to unity together as one flock?

In this season of dedication let us dedicate ourselves to unity within the body of Christ. Rather than sowing seeds of conflict and dissension through gossip and bitter words against one another; let’s learn the language of love. Let’s strive to follow Paul’s instruction to the church at Ephesus, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. (Eph. 4:3-6).

LORD Jesus, forgive us for being slow to hear Your Voice; forgive us for our petty disagreements and being quick to divide Your flock. Empower us by Your Holy Spirit to work together for unity.

Day 6 – Christ, The Door

Unlike the people who listened to Jesus outside the Temple in Jerusalem, we are unfamiliar with shepherds, sheep and the sheepfold where they are safe protected by the door. But we understand a login with a specific username and password. How will we enter – through the door, or will we try to sneak in another way?

Read – John 10:1-10

You might say it was easier for Jesus to give sight to a man born blind than to open the eyes of the spiritually blind. But remember, the blind man in John 9 was healed because he obeyed Jesus’ word going to the Pool of Siloam to wash. The blind man could have responded differently and ignored what Jesus said. It was the man’s obedience to Jesus; it was hearing and doing that opened his eyes.

Twice Jesus says that He is the door; Jesus is your personal login. Will those who hear Him enter by the door or try to sneak in another way?

This is the struggle we find happening in John 10. Will the spiritually blind respond to Jesus’ words like the blind man and see, or will they reject what Jesus says choosing instead to remain in darkness?  Continue Reading: Day 6 – Christ: The Door

Day 5 – Christ, The Sight Giver

Jesus, the LORD’s Servant and light of the world, finds a man born blind. The disciples wonder if the man’s blindness is the fault of his parents’ sin or the man’s sin. Jesus corrects their misguided and blinded thinking not just by His words, but in what He does.

Read – John 9:1-41
Some time later Jesus and His disciples pass by a man born blind. The disciples question why this man was kept from seeing; was it the sin of the man’s parents or possibly for his own sin that this man was blind. Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.” (Jn. 9:3).

The Pharisees were indignant; rather than rejoice that the man could now see, they put the man on trial in order to have reason to accuse Jesus for breaking their laws of the Sabbath.

Continue Reading: Day 5 – The Blind See

Day 4 – Christ, The “I AM”

They had heard Jesus’ words and believed, but Jesus wanted more than just their faith; He wanted all they had to offer. How quickly believing in Jesus turned to an attack to kill Him for blasphemy. Will we dedicate ourselves completely to Jesus or will we, like them, reject His words?

Read – John 8:48-59

This was blasphemy and Jesus deserved to die – that is unless what Jesus said was true.

Within these verses Jesus makes a statement that sent shock waves through the crowd, and remember many of these are the Jews who “believed in Him” (see – Jn. 8:30-31). And don’t forget it is this group of ‘believers’ that Jesus said will seek to kill Him. And that’s exactly what happened, not months later but that very day these ‘believers’ wanted to stone Jesus to death (see – Jn. 8:59).

What did Jesus say that caused such a reaction? “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am” (Jn. 8:58). These believing Jews rightly understood that Jesus claimed to be God, Yehovah, the LORD, the great “I AM.” How could a man, even a man who performed miracles like Jesus make such a claim? This was blasphemy and Jesus deserved to die – that is unless what Jesus said was true.

But this was not the first time these ‘believers’ had heard Jesus say these words that day. Continue Reading: Day 4 – Christ, The

Day 3 – Christ, The Truth

We live in a day when truth is thought of a being relative. What you and I think of as truth may not agree with each other, but that’s okay because your truth is true for you and mine for me. But Jesus does not offer a relative truth as the key to freedom. Jesus is absolute in what He says; if we abide in His word and not our varied opinions, the truth will set us free.

Read – John 8:31-47

The truth can be a hard pill to swallow – even for those who believe.

We are now on our third day of “A Season of Dedication,” but let me remind you that as we continue in John 8, it is still the same day for Jesus and those listening to Him in the Temple. Keep in mind this is “the Last and Greatest Day” of Tabernacles, also known as “The Eighth Day.” It is a day for new beginnings with the “living water” of the Spirit being poured into the lives of those who would receive Jesus as LORD (see – Jn. 7:37-39).

On this the Eighth Day Jesus now begins to speak to those who had just believed in Him.

If you and I were there that day, we would count ourselves among those Jesus is talking to. He says something we accept without thinking much about; Continue Reading: Day 3 – Christ, The Truth

Day 2 – Christ, The Son of Man

I’ve grown up in the church, but how well do I really know the LORD? If Jesus came into our lives today, would we recognize Him for who He is? Or will our caricature passed down to us of Christ be like that of the Pharisees so we to would not recognize the LORD when He comes?

Read: John 8:12-30

After telling the woman caught in adultery to go and leave her life of sin, Jesus spoke  about Himself to those He had been teaching in the Temple. He told them plainly “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (Jn. 8:12).

Pharisees within the crowd challenged Jesus’ testimony. Although they judged only according to the flesh, Jesus assured them that what He said was true . Further Jesus’ testimony was validated by the testimony of the Father.

May we dedicate ourselves today to believing, and not doubt, that Jesus alone is our Messiah, the Savior of the World who died in our place.

They countered, “Where is your Father” (v.19)? Because they were judging according to the flesh Jesus told them they knew neither Him nor His Father. A bold statement telling religious leaders they did not know Yehovah, the LORD they claimed to serve. Perhaps we should take Jesus words to heart and consider how well we know the LORD.

Jesus continued telling them that He would soon go away and where He was going they could not come; He punctuated His words telling them that even though they would seek Him they would die in their sins. Their judgment continued to fail believing perhaps Jesus would kill Himself.

Can we see the truth of Jesus’s words here? He went on to tell them  why they would die in their sins; they refused to believe “I am He” – literally in the Greek “I AM” who is the Messiah they were seeking. Talk about not being able to see the forest for the trees! Jesus stood before them, but by their judgment He was only a man, and even with all His miracles they refused to believe that He was in fact the LORD’S promised Messiah they longed to see come.

Finally, Jesus told them:

“When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own authority, but speak just as the Father taught me. And he who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to him.” (Jn. 8:28-29)

Jesus called Himself “the Son of Man.” This is a specific reference to His divinity as God’s promised Messiah. We often mistakenly think of this as a title of Jesus’ humanity, but the Jews correctly understood that the Son of Man was in fact God coming to His people as their Messiah (see – Daniel 7:13-14; Acts 7:56; Revelation 1:13; 14:14). Why would “the Son of Man” be lifted up to die? Because even in His death Jesus would always do what is pleasing to the Father (v. 29).

That day many believed in Jesus as their Messiah. May we too dedicate ourselves today to believing, and not doubt, that He alone is our Messiah, the Savior of the World who died in our place.

But let’s take one further step. Let’s dedicate ourselves to always doing those things that please the Father. In this way we show that our faith is not dead but active and alive (see – James 2:14-17, 26).

Holy Spirit, come and help us to live our lives like Jesus, always obedient to the Father bringing Him glory.