Rev. Dick is pastor of Grace Protestant Reformed Church in Standale, Michigan.
Jesus is in Jerusalem. The feast of “the dedication” is being cel-ebrated by the Jews. This feast, though not authorized by the Hebrew Scriptures, was nevertheless celebrated annually by the Jews. It is still celebrated today. The Jews call it Hanukkah (Hebrew for “dedication”).
The purpose of the feast was (and still is) the “commemoration of the purification and rededication of the temple by Judas the Maccabee in the year 165 BC, exactly three years after it had been defiled by the wicked Antiochus Epiphanes” (Hendriksen).
Jewish tradition maintains that a special miracle occurred at the time of this rededication. Listen to the account of one Rabbi Mark Diamond:
When it came time to re-light the menorah (candlestick, MD) only one small jar of oil that had not been defiled by the Greeks could be found within the entire Temple. It would take an eight-day round trip journey to obtain new pure oil. But the high Priest, determined to rededicate the Temple even if the menorah could be kindled for only one day, lit the menorah. The next day, to everyone’s amazement, the menorah was miraculously still lit. The oil burned for eight days, until a new supply of oil could be brought. The community rejoiced, thanking God for his favor.
Because of the belief that by a wonder God kept the menorah lit for eight days, the feast of the dedication is celebrated by the Jews for eight days, and is characterized by the burning of lights (hence Hanukkah is also called the festival of lights). In Jesus’ day the dwelling places of the Jews were lit. Today when Hanukkah is celebrated, some time in December, a replica of the menorah is lit, one candle at a time, until on the eighth night of the celebration all eight candles shine brightly.
Hanukkah! Happy Hanukkah!
But no Jesus. The Jews, celebrating the temple and the faithfulness of God, will have no part of Jesus. So now. So then, when Temple walked in their midst. Tobe sure, Jesus does not escape their notice. Jesus is walking in the part of the temple called “Solomon’s porch,” a covered colonnade running along the east wall of the temple. The Jews see Him. They come, and they gather round about him (v. 24). They are exasperated at the mystique of Jesus; they cannot figure Him out! They are frustrated because of His purity; with this One they can find no fault! They fear because of Jesus’ influence; more and more people are believing this One and forsaking the traditions of the scribes and Pharisees! They are smarting from Jesus’ recent reference to them as thieves and robbers and hirelings and strangers ( vv. 1-13). They demand that Jesus now tell them plainly whether He be the Christ or no. Not that they will believe Jesus if He tells them He is. But they will catch this Jesus and deny and twist His words to try to condemn Him.
They come upon Jesus. They are hungry to eat Jesus up, to devour, to tear Him apart. These Jews are sharks circling the prey, wolves preparing to pounce.
Fools! A revelation here of desperate and shameful folly at the feast of the dedication! Sinful mortals imagining the Lord Jesus to be like so many of the others: easy prey, vulnerable, one who can be brought to toe the party line, and if not, eliminated. Israelites, lighting lamps of oil at their feast, yet seeking to snuff out the Light of Israel and of the world!
Hear the words of Jesus! Jesus is not one of us, our equal. He and His Father are one (v. 30). Jesus is God with us. Temple.
Hear Him proclaim precious truth about our salvation. Temple truth.
Believe God Jesus. Celebrate Savior Jesus. Be dedicated to this Lord Jesus, and to His truth.
True Hanukkah! Temple truth! Happy Hanukkah!
For Study, Meditation, & Discussion
1. The Temple and Jesus (vv. 22-24)
Everything in the Bible points to Jesus. The promises in Him are yea and amen (II Cor. 1:20). Law and prophets tell of Him (Luke 24:25-27). History is empty without Him and full when He comes (Gal. 4:4). Doctrine is of Him (Eph. 4:21). Wonders are signs of Him whose name is Wonderful (Is. 9:6). Everything, Genesis to Revelation, is of Jesus.
So the temple, the Old Testament “house of God.” Consider the Old Testament tabernacle/temple, and its significance as the place where God dwelt with His people. How is Jesus the true Temple of God (cf. Matt. 1:23; John 2:19-21; Rev. 21:22)?
The Jews are Bible blind. The Jews at this time are celebrating the re-dedication of the temple to the service of God after it had been defiled by the heathen. But they reject Jesus, the true Temple of God! They even want to stone Him (v. 31)!
How do the unbelieving Jews show by this that they are worse than the heathen? In light of the darkness of Jewish impiety and hypocrisy, comment on the term “Judeo-Christian ethic.” Evangelicals commonly use this term in an effort to unite Americans in an attempt to go back to our nation’s “roots.” Is it possible for Jews who celebrate “Hanukkah” and Christians who believe in incarnation to share an ethic? Ought Christians to celebrate any Jewish festivals in church or otherwise?
How do we show our dedication to the temple?
2. T.U.L.I.P. (vv. 25-29)
Dedication to the true Temple of God involves dedication to His truth.
Wonderful truth of salvation taught here. We call it Calvinism, in recognition of God’s raising up a John Calvin to help guide the church back to her biblical moorings.
Calvinism! Biblical truth! Jesus’ truth! Temple truth!
This truth of salvation is conveniently summarized by the acronym T.U.L.I.P. “T” is for the doctrine of total depravity. “U” is for unconditional election. “L” is for limited atonement. “I” is for irresistible grace. “P” is for preservation of the saints.
Discuss the meaning of these doctrines. Are these in our hearts and minds?
Five diamond points of doctrine: all here in this passage!
Total depravity is revealed in the Jews’ rejection of Messiah.
Unconditional election is taught in verse 26. There Jesus says that the unbelievers believed not because they were not of His sheep. Show how this proves unconditional election and reprobation. (Hint: note the order of ordination and believing in Acts 13:48.)
Search for the other doctrines of grace (as Calvinism is otherwise known) in John 10:25-29. Cite other passages which support the “five points.” What do the Canons of Dordt (the five chapters of which are the five points of Calvinism) have to say of these doctrines? What does Arminianism teach (cf. the “rejection of errors” section in each chapter of the Canons)? Some people say they are “four-point” Calvinists, or “three-point” Calvinists. Is this possible? Why is it so important to hold to all five points?
Show from the passage how Jesus Himself is involved in the salvation and preservation of His own?
3. I and my Father are one (v. 30).
This is a much debated statement of Jesus. The debate centers in the question whether or not Jesus was claiming for Himself essential oneness with God the Father. The question is: is Jesus here claiming to be equal with God? Is He claiming to be God? Arians of old denied it. So do today’s Unitarians, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and others. They will say that all Jesus is saying here is that He is one in purpose with the Father.
A most important passage! What saith the Scriptures? Is Jesus God, or is He not? Is He truly and essentially co-equal with the Father, or perhaps only similar to Him, but nevertheless subordinate to Him?
The church of all ages has claimed that Jesus is God. Together with the Father and the Spirit, also the Son, come in human flesh, is very God. Such is the teaching of the church’s creeds. For a good discussion of the truth of the fact and necessity of the divinity of Jesus Christ you will want to refer to the Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Days 5,6,13; Belgic Confession, Articles 8-10; Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter 8; Larger Catechism, Q.36; Nicene Creed; Athanasian Creed; Creed of Chalcedon.
Show how the following passages, and others, prove the church’s confession of the divinity of Jesus Christ: Proverbs 8:30; Isaiah 9:6; John 1:1-3; John 8:58; John 12:41 (cf. Is. 6!); John 20:28; I John 5:20; I Timothy 3:16; Revelation 1:17.
In light of the rest of the Scriptures’ teaching note the following about the verse before us, John 10:30:
When Jesus speaks of the unity of Himself and the Father He is not necessarily referring to essential unity. This is plain from a passage such as John 17:22. There Jesus prays that the disciples may be one as He and the Father are one. And He is certainly not praying there that the individual members of the church may be essentially one.
But then, though we grant that Jesus’ reference to His unity with the Father does not necessarily refer to His essential unity with the Father, there is strong evidence that it does, or at least that it implies or presumes an essential unity.
Prove this from the following considerations: the Jews’ reaction to Jesus’ words; Jesus’ mention of the “many good works” He showed from His Father (v. 32—cf. John 5:17ff.); Jesus’ reference to Psalm 82:6 (vv. 34-36: note carefully Jesus’ comparison of Himself with these “lesser gods” of Psalm 82!); the Father’s being in Jesus and Jesus in Him (v. 38b).
4. And the Scripture cannot be broken (v. 35b).
The word “broken” means “destroyed, annulled, done away with, deprived of authority.” It is used in various connections: with reference to the destroying of the temple (John 2:19); the breaking of the Sabbath ( John 5:18); the dissolving of the heavens and earth (II Pet. 3:11).
By declaring that the “scripture” cannot be broken, what is our Lord saying is His view of the Bible? What important rule of interpretation of Bible truth do we learn from our Lord’s use of Scripture here? What important truth is taught here about the Bible and our evangelism? The Bible and our everyday living?What are other important passages which teach why Scripture cannot be broken, and that scripture cannot be broken?
How do we know that all Scripture, Old Testament and New Testament, “cannot be broken”?
5. “Resorting to Jesus” (vv. 40-42)
Jesus escapes out of the hand of the wicked Jews who seek to take Him. Then He goes beyond Jordan and begins what is called His “Perean ministry.” This area, we are told, is where John was baptizing at first (v. 40). Here Jesus abides.
Many (v. 41) then “resorted” to Jesus. The Greek word is simply “came.” But to come to Jesus as these people did is surely to resort to Him! For they came believing on Him (v. 42). They came turning to Him for help. They came willing to be instructed and to submit to Him. They came to be refreshed. Unto Jesus!Other passages speak of “coming to Jesus” in the sense of resorting to Him. List and discuss some (e.g., John 5:40; 6:35, 37, 44, 45, 65).
How do we resort to Jesus? Is this similar to being dedicated to Jesus? When we go to our “resorts” in the summer or whenever, is Jesus on our mind? At work, in the home, at school, how do we show we resort to Jesus? Is He our last resort?
6. No better epitaph (v. 41)!
The people who came to Jesus knew John the Baptist. John had first baptized there. His ministry was unforgettable! And why was this? John did no miracle. But He spoke of the Messiah, and of Jesus as the Messiah! And now, before the very eyes and in the hearing of the people who heard John speak of Jesus, Jesus confirms what John said of Him: “All things that John spake of this man were true”!
Surely, no better epitaph could be said of a minister of the gospel! How do ministers ensure that what they say of Jesus is true? How can people in the pew be sure?
Recall the ministry of John the Baptist. What did John say of the Lord Jesus? How was his ministry so important for preparing the way for Jesus’ own ministry? Discuss this astounding statement of Jesus: “Verily I say unto you, among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he” (Matt. 11:11).
7. Perspective: John 20:31
“… that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God: and that believing ye might have life through his name.” That is the stated purpose both of the miracles and teaching of Jesus in John’s gospel.
How has the Holy Spirit fulfilled this purpose in you as you have contemplated the truths of John 10?
How has the Holy Spirit worked in you through this study to be re-dedicated to the true Temple of God, Jesus?
Ah … Temple truth! Saving truth. God with us! Celebrate! Festival of the Undying Light!
Hanukkah! To Jesus!