A “quiet time” is simply being intentional about having a conversation with God. This usually means listening for God’s voice by reading the Bible or devotions, and speaking to God through prayer. Jesus did this numerous times in the Gospels, sometimes slipping away all night or in the early morning, to spend time with his Father.
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Think of a time when someone has refused to believe you for some reason. How did that make you feel? What did you do?
The Unbelief of the Jews22Then came the Feast of Dedication at Jerusalem. It was winter, 23and Jesus was in the temple area walking in Solomon's Colonnade. 24The Jews gathered around him, saying, "How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly." 25Jesus answered, "I did tell you, but you do not believe. The miracles I do in my Father's name speak for me, 26but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. 27My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. 29My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand. 30I and the Father are one." 31Again the Jews picked up stones to stone him, 32but Jesus said to them, "I have shown you many great miracles from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?" 33"We are not stoning you for any of these," replied the Jews, "but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God." 34Jesus answered them, "Is it not written in your Law, 'I have said you are gods'? 35If he called them 'gods,' to whom the word of God came—and the Scripture cannot be broken— 36what about the one whom the Father set apart as his very own and sent into the world? Why then do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said, 'I am God's Son'? 37Do not believe me unless I do what my Father does. 38But if I do it, even though you do not believe me, believe the miracles, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father." 39Again they tried to seize him, but he escaped their grasp. 40Then Jesus went back across the Jordan to the place where John had been baptizing in the early days. Here he stayed 41and many people came to him. They said, "Though John never performed a miraculous sign, all that John said about this man was true." 42And in that place many believed in Jesus.
Thinking about kings
This passage is about power and authority. Jesus is in the Temple during the Festival of Dedication (Hanukkah), when the Jews gave thanks for Judas Maccabeus recapturing the Temple in 167 BC after its capture and desecration by Antiochus Epiphanes. He was made king to celebrate, so the festival also had a focus on kingship. The kings of Israel were pictured as shepherds. However, some of the Jews still want to know who Jesus is (v 24). Many of them still can’t believe that Jesus is the one, true, good shepherd.
The Jewish opponents again try to stone Jesus (v 31). What reason do they give (v 33)?
Jesus has one final attempt at gaining their understanding (vs 34–38). Verse 36 is key to understanding the rather puzzling reference to Psalm 82:6 in verse 34. Jesus uses it to prove that he is God’s Son.
He gives his opponents one last chance to accept him (v 38). What did he tell them they needed to do? What was their response (v 39)?
Jesus’ opponents may have opposed him to the last, but when he went back to the rural area around the Jordan (v 40) many people came to believe in him.
Pray for church leaders who seek to model Jesus the Good Shepherd. Pray that they will be encouraged today as they care for the flock in their care.
‘I am your servant; give me discernment that I may understand your statutes.’ (Psalm 119:125)
The purpose of a trial is to reach a verdict; to try to establish the truth, based on the evidence and testimony provided. A more official trial, including formal sentencing, awaits Jesus later in the Gospel (John 18:19–24; 18:28 – 19:16), but in this passage some ‘interim verdicts’ are issued prior to the adjournment of the ad hoc ‘proceedings’ against him that have dominated much of the past five chapters of John’s narrative.
The verdict of the accusers is that Jesus’ messianic claims are false and that he is therefore guilty of blasphemy (v 33). Though they appear to allow that the goodness of Jesus’ works cannot be contested (v 33), they refuse to accept the logical conclusion: that Jesus’ works are from the Father and therefore prove him to be the agent of the Father, endowed with power and status equal to that of the Father (vs 25,28–30,37–38). Readers should reflect that, however compelling are the arguments for faith or however creatively they are presented, there will probably always be those who refuse to believe. God’s verdict is that Jesus is his true Son, to whom he entrusts his works. As the Father’s agent, Jesus succeeds where Israel failed, by living in obedience to God’s law and so demonstrating the goodness of the Father’s reign (vs 34–36). Jesus’ works substantiate his messianic claims. A further verdict is delivered outside the ‘courtroom’, that of the ordinary folk living across the Jordan, where Jesus seeks sanctuary away from Jerusalem. On encountering Jesus in their midst, many believed in him (vs 40–42).
Faced with contradictory judgements in regard to the claims of Christ, readers must consider their own verdict and choose to locate themselves either within or without the discipleship community Jesus gathers to himself. There is no middle ground (Matthew 12:30).
The period between the Testaments was a confusing one for the Jewish people who were controlled by a succession of foreign powers. In 167 BC King Antiochus IV desecrated the temple by setting up an altar to Zeus and sacrificing pigs.
This led to a rebellion and in 165 the temple was liberated and rededicated by Judas Maccabeus. There was only enough oil for the Menorah to burn for one night but it continued to burn for eight nights, the time needed to prepare a fresh supply. Judas instituted a feast for eight days.
Hannukah, Dedication or Lights
The feast is known by all these names. Hannukah is the Hebrew world for dedication, celebrating the rededication of the temple. It was customary to light candles on each of the evenings of the feast; one on the first evening, building to eight on the final evening.
As the candle was lit so a blessing was said. It was a time of rejoicing, family gathering and present giving. It normally falls in December and is still celebrated by Jews around the world.
Significance for John
Although Jesus' statement about being the light of the world (John 9:5) was before the feast there may still be a link. It is also likely that in John’s presentation there is a connection between God’s deliverance in the liberation of the temple and the salvation that Jesus was about to accomplish on the cross.
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