Wednesday 04 January 2012

Bible Book:

"But if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, so that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father." (v. 38)

John 10:31-41 Wednesday 4 January 2012


This passage takes place during the Festival of the Dedication,or Hanukkah, which our Jewish friends have just been celebrating,20-28 December. It commemorates the dedication of the secondtemple, after liberation from a king who instigated the worship ofother gods and the sacrificing of unclean animals. Judas Maccabaeuswas the conquering Jewish hero who became king, and the festivalmarks the return to pure and holy worship. With that story in mind,how provocative is it that, just a few verses earlier, Jesus speaksabout being the Good Shepherd - an allusion to Israel's king? Andif that was provocative ...

Yesterday's passage focused on theintensity of devotion demanded of the Israelite people by Moses, tothe one God, Yahweh, in a world of multiple 'gods'. Today we seethe result of that fierce conviction, as Jesus is almost stoned forblasphemy, as he says "The Father and I are one" (John10:30). It is not difficult to understand why this would causecontroversy, or why the early Church (themselves devoted Jews, inthe main) struggled for decades to find the words to describe theintimate relationship between Yahweh and Jesus.

The temple authorities were about to stone Jesus in line with theJewish Law - particularly Leviticus 24:16. Jesus' words were neveractually blasphemous (that is, to curse God); instead 'blasphemy'was the charge that seemed to hang around him when his opponentswere near. It's as though Jesus' words and actions invoked the samekind of shock-to-the-core response: as if he was indeed challengingor putting himself on a level with Yahweh. Here, Jesus surprisesthem with a ball from left-field! In verse 34 he quotes Psalm82:6: overall it is a plea for justice, but the verses inquestion have always been the subject of debate. Jesus claims thatGod is calling his people "gods, children of the Most High". Andtherefore how much more can that be said of the anointed one, theone sent by God, the one whom God is clearly working through?

Jesus points them to the work of God which he is doing, and whichthey can see with their own eyes. It's as if the Jewish authoritiesknew the scriptures, but were blinded as to how the living Godmight move among them. Although Christianity has always hadpreachers and theologians expressing the faith by word and reason,Jesus was determined that his followers, like him, be known bytheir fruit (see John15:1-17). Gardeners will tell us that the fruit not only helpsus identify the type of tree, but also the quality or health of thetree. The proof of Christianity has always been in the results offaith, seen in loving action, healing, prayer, self-sacrifice andgenerosity. It is these works that Jesus showed in abundance, andthis fruit that revealed the source of everything he did and said:"the Father is in me and I am in the Father" - an intimate andfruitful relationship, at one with each other, life flowing fromone to the other and bursting out in love.

To Ponder

How do you understand the relationship betweenGod the Father and Jesus?

How can that relationship be extended to us,through Jesus?

What might happen to a church that did not putits faith or words into action?

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