22 It was the feast of the Dedication at Jerusalem; 23 it was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the portico of Solomon. 24 So the Jews gathered round him and said to him, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.” 25 Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name, they bear witness to me; 26 but you do not believe, because you do not belong to my sheep. 27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me; 28 and I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.” – John 10:22-30
John reports that Jesus was in Jerusalem for the Feast of the Dedication. This festival commemorates the rededication of the Temple after the Maccabean Revolt in 164 BC. At that time the Seleucid king Antiochus Epiphanes had set up an altar to Zeus in the Temple in Jerusalem and had offered a sacrifice on that altar. The Jewish Priest Mattathias was outraged, and along with Judas Maccabeus rose up, cleansed the Temple, and rededicated it to the proper worship of Yahweh. This eight-day festival of lights in the winter season is still observed today, known as Hanukkah.
It is in this setting that Jesus walked near but not in the Temple and was asked by Jewish followers about his identity. “If you are the Christ, tell us plainly,” they requested. Jesus response was that if his words were not clear to them, his actions should have been. “The works that I do in my Father’s name… bear witness to me,” Jesus told them. Then he added, “But you do not believe.” Jesus was telling these men that the problem with their faith was not in his lack of clarity but in their refusal to believe.
By mentioning the setting of the feast of the Dedication of the Temple, John reveals his understanding that the movement of faith is for followers of Jesus to dedicate him as the true Temple. It is in the Temple, after all, where the divine and the human meet – fully and perfectly accomplished in the person of Jesus the Christ. To make this point with great clarity in response to their inquiry, Jesus simply says, “I and the Father are one.”
Lord Jesus, as we enter our own season of darkness and light, cleanse my worship of any false altars that my worship may be pure. Amen
Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews then said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?” But he spoke of the temple of his body. – John 2:20-21
A Bible study devotional by Gorman Houston