You are currently browsing the daily archive for May 7, 2022.

The Fourth Sunday of Easter is May 8, 2022.

Readings for Year C can be found here.

The Gospel reading is as follows (emphases mine):

John 10:22-30

10:22 At that time the festival of the Dedication took place in Jerusalem. It was winter,

10:23 and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the portico of Solomon.

10:24 So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.”

10:25 Jesus answered, “I have told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name testify to me;

10:26 but you do not believe, because you do not belong to my sheep.

10:27 My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me.

10:28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand.

10:29 What my Father has given me is greater than all else, and no one can snatch it out of the Father’s hand.

10:30 The Father and I are one.”

Commentary comes from Matthew Henry and John MacArthur.

Before beginning today’s verses, I wanted to follow up on last week’s reading from John 21, which involved John and Peter after our Lord’s resurrection.

John MacArthur says that both Apostles were close friends:

It’s very interesting to be going through the Book of John in the morning and Acts at night because in the account of the early chapters of Acts, Peter is the preacher And with the gospel of John, John is the writer And of course, they were buddies They are together in the early chapters of Acts, so it’s a special treat to be hearing from John as he finally gets to say something many, many, many years after Peter preached on Pentecost, and how parallel the writing of John concerning the person of Christ and the preaching of Peter concerning the person of Christ are So we’re sort of doubling down on Peter and John in these days, and presenting the glories of the Savior that they loved and proclaimed. 

MacArthur puts today’s passage, which follows our Lord’s discourse on Himself as the Good Shepherd, into context for us:

Tenth chapter of John is a turning point as you know in John’s history This is the chapter that records the last account that John gives of the public ministry of Jesus At the end of this tenth chapter, Jesus goes away for about three months, and He spends the time with His disciples He comes back in the 11th chapter and raises Lazarus from the dead, does a triumphal entry in the 12th chapter, and then John records chapters 13 through 16 one night, one night in the upper room, the promises the Lord gave to His disciples and all who would come after them, including us.  The 17th chapter then is that incredible entry into the holy of holies, the sanctuary of the private prayer and communion of Christ with His Father, that great high priestly prayer that He prayed before His death.  Chapter 18 is His arrest followed by His death and resurrection.  And then the restitution of Peter and the commissioning of the disciples ends it all in the final chapter.

So, chapter 10 is critical because John wants to make sure nothing is left unclear in terms of the claims of Christ This is, in a sense, a summation of what his purpose was as he states it in chapter 20 and verse 31 “These have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that believing, you may have life in His name.”  John is amassing evidence that you might believe, in order that you might have eternal life.  Eternal life, as we have been learning, comes only through faith in Christ

So, his purpose is culminating here in this tenth chapter And he wants to leave no mistake as to the claim Christ made, and what is necessary to believe about Him to receive eternal life That is why you have the words in verse 30.  Look at chapter 10 verse 30.  “I and the Father are one.”  I and the Father are one.  “The Jews picked up stones again to stone Him.”  Jesus answered them, “I showed you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you stoning Me?”  The Jews answered Him, “For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy; and because You, being a man, make Yourself out to be God.”  Literally. 

Between the Good Shepherd passage and today’s are these intervening verses:

19 The Jews who heard these words were again divided. 20 Many of them said, “He is demon-possessed and raving mad. Why listen to him?”

21 But others said, “These are not the sayings of a man possessed by a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?”

From them we can infer that the atmosphere among the Jews listening to Jesus was tense.

The reason they are upset is because this is not the first time that Jesus has stated he is the Son of God.

MacArthur reminds us of the previous events in John’s Gospel leading up to those in Chapter 10:

In the fifth chapter, you remember verse 17 He said, “My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working.  I do what the Father does.  I have the prerogatives, the authority, the right, the power, the being to do exactly what God does.”  “They understood what He was saying,” verse 18, “for this reason, therefore, the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him because He not only was breaking the Sabbath, but also was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God.”  So let the Jews tell us, the enemies of Jesus, what He meant when He called Himself Son of God.  They knew what He meant.  He was claiming to have the same essence as God as a son has the same essence as his father. 

In that same fifth chapter, there are statements to this effect that are unmistakable.  Verse 23, “So that all will honor the Son, even as they honor the Father.  He who doesn’t honor the Son doesn’t honor the Father who sent Him.  As the Father has life in Himself, even so He gave to the Son also to have life in Himself.  He has equal life, does equal work, has equal authority, has equal power, because He is equal.”  Now, this infuriated the Jews This claim to deity, as we all know.  And as a result, they try to kill Him.  They try to kill Him on the spot Their fury reaches a fever pitch where they become like a mass of vigilantes that want to snuff out His life.  And by the time we get to the end of chapter 10, for the fourth time, they will have designs on killing Him on the spot, and He will have to escapeVerse 39 of chapter 10 tells us that.

At the end of chapter 8, they picked up stones to throw at Him, but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple At the end of chapter 10, verse 39, “They were seeking again to seize Him, and He eluded their grasp.”  Back in chapter 7, just as another illustration, verse 1, “The Jews were seeking to kill Him.”  This is a steady, relentless desire on their part to reach some escalated moment when, in the eyes of the crowds, they will be justified in executing Him on the spot.  They knew exactly what He was intending to say when He said He was the Son of God.  They knew He was claiming the same essence as God That’s how they used the expression, “son of.”  If someone was called a son of Belial, he would be manifesting the same wicked nature as Satan.  If someone was called, as James and John were, sons of thunder, it meant that they had a volatility.  They had a disposition of volatility.  To say you’re the Son of God is to claim to have the same essence as God Himself.

In John 1 verse 34, the testimony of John, “I myself have seen and testified that this is the Son of God.”  In John chapter 1 verse 49, Nathaniel says, “Rabbi, You are the Son of God.”  This is how clearly Jesus had declared who He was.  It was absolutely unmistakable.  So when we come to chapter 10, we’re not at all surprised that this has become a huge issue Verse 3[0], Jesus makes the most clear, precise declaration.  “I and the Father are one.”  Verse 31, “The Jews picked up stones again to stone Him.”  Jesus stops them He answered and said, “I showed you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you stoning Me?”  The Jews answered Him, “For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy; and because You, being a man, make Yourself out to be God.”

They had no doubt what He was claiming, absolutely no doubt.  They had come to understand that Jesus was claiming to be God, the great I Am, the creator Himself, the one true eternal God in human flesh.  The other writers of the gospels affirm this.  Matthew in chapter 1 verse 23 introduces the child as Emmanuel, which is God with us.  Mark 1:1, Mark begins his history, “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.”  Luke launches in chapter 1, a description of the birth of the child, and identifies the child as the Holy Child the Son of God.  John 1:1, “He was God.” 

Listen, any identification, any identification of Jesus by anyone, anytime, that makes Him less than God is blasphemy.  It is blasphemy.  The leaders of Israel had turned blasphemy on its head They had turned Jesus into a blasphemer when they were the blasphemers for denying His deity They accused Him of blasphemy, and they knew that blasphemy, genuine blasphemy had a death penalty placed upon it.  Leviticus 24:16, “The blasphemer is to be stoned to death.” 

In their minds, Jesus was a blasphemer; in reality, they were the blasphemers.  So is anyone who denies the nature of Christ as God.  John certainly features this in his gospel, but he also is clear about it in his epistle.  “Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ?”  This is the anti-Christ.  The one who denies the Father and the Son.  Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father; the one who confesses the Son has the Father.  You get the Son and the Father as one, or you are cursed You are cursed.  You are a blasphemer You are anti-Christ.  Any view of Christ that is less than God is an anti-Christ statement It was for blasphemy, really, in the end, that these leaders of Israel had dogged His steps and eventually got Him to a Roman cross It was blasphemy …

John 19:7 puts it this way: “The Jews said we have a law,” Leviticus 24:16, “and by that law, He ought to die because He made Himself out to be the Son of God.”  Execution because of blasphemy. 

Today’s passage opens in winter and in Jerusalem, at the time of the Feast of the Dedication, which we know as Hanukkah (verse 20).

Matthew Henry describes it not as a holy feast but a private one celebrated at home, as there was no commandment to celebrate it in Jerusalem:

It was at the feast of dedication, and it was winter, a feast that was annually observed by consent, in remembrance of the dedication of a new altar and the purging of the temple, by Judas Maccabæus, after the temple had been profaned and the altar defiled; we have the story of it at large in the history of the Maccabees (lib. 1, cap. 4); we have the prophecy of it, Daniel 8:13; Daniel 8:14. See more of the feast, 2 Mac. i. 18. The return of their liberty was to them as life from the dead, and, in remembrance of it, they kept an annual feast on the twenty-fifth day of the month Cisleu [Kislev], about the beginning of December, and seven days after. The celebrating of it was not confined to Jerusalem, as that of the divine feasts was, but every one observed it in his own place, not as a holy time (it is only a divine institution that can sanctify a day), but as a good time, as the days of Purim, Esther 9:19. Christ forecasted to be now at Jerusalem, not in honour of the feast, which did not require his attendance there, but that he might improve those eight days of vacation for good purposes.

The events in Maccabees took place during the reign of a Syrian monarch, Antiochus, who referred to himself as Antiochus Epiphanes: Antiochus the Supreme.

MacArthur says:

The people changed one letter and called him Antiochus Epimanes, which means “The Madman.”

Antiochus would not allow the Jews to practise their religion. He wanted everyone under his rule to practise polytheism as the Greeks did and instituted a law to that effect.

MacArthur has more:

he is the first pagan king who ever persecuted Jews for their religion He’s the first … He wanted to standardize everybody, and the Jews wouldn’t accept pagan religion.  So he entered Jerusalem with a mighty force in 170 BC, and he conquered the temple, and he immediately went inside the temple into the holy of holies, and slaughtered a pig in the holy of holies Then, he erected a statue of Zeus there That was the start of a systematic effort to stamp out Judaism.  He was brutal in his oppression of the Jews And by the way, as they always do, they clung tenaciously to their religion.  Under his direction, they were slaughtered They were required to make sacrifices to pagan gods or die

They were not allowed to carry, to read, or possess any portion of Old Testament Scripture Whenever Old Testament scrolls could be found, they were collected and burned They were forbidden to give any kind of honor on the Sabbath day They were forbidden to circumcise their children.

This was a ten-year period during the 400-year era when God sent no new prophets to His people, which demoralised them. It was a judgement:

… between the Old Testament and the New Testament, there’s a 400 year period We refer to it obviously as the intertestamental period The last prophet in the Old Testament goes silent.  There’s no prophecy, no revelation, until John the Baptist shows up, and the word of the Lord comes to Zechariahs and Elizabeth about John, and then you have the story of Christ.  But in the middle, there’s 400 years.  That was 400 very, very difficult years for the Jews Very difficult.  They were apostateThey rejected God, went through lots of Judgment, lots of suffering But it sort of reached an epic level around 170 years before Christ So, 160 to 170 BC.

The Jews fought back — and eventually won:

They were led by a priest named Mattathias And Mattathias had sons.  One of his sons was a man named Judas Maccabeus Under the leadership of this really effective, powerful warrior-leader, Judas Maccabeus, they retook, the Jews retook Jerusalem.  And interestingly enough, it was on the 25th of Kislev that they liberated the temple, rededicated it, and established the Feast of Dedication to commemorate the liberation of the temple, the rededication of the temple There’s some historical information that Antiochus did what he did on the 25th of Kislev, and they liberated it on the 25th of Kislev years later

So that date became an important date.

Also interesting is that winter, that most desolate season north of the Equator, seems to symbolise the Jews’ spiritual darkness with which they encountered Jesus.

MacArthur says:

It was winter not only on the calendar, November, December, but it was winter spiritually.  The Son of righteousness who had arisen with healing in His beams had run His orbit and faded back to blackness.  It was winter on the calendar, and it was winter in the hearts of the Jews

Jesus was walking in the portico of Solomon at the temple (verse 23).

MacArthur describes this part of the temple:

When the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem, 586, they destroyed the temple But they didn’t destroy that back wall on the eastern side that 600 feet of retaining wall That was left from the original Solomonic temple And so it was called the porch of Solomon In front of that wall, they built a great patio porch, put 40 foot high colonnades and a roof, and that’s where people would need to go when they came to the temple if it was winter And in the winter in Israel, it can rain.  It can become very cold.  It can snow in Jerusalem at the altitude.  Winter becomes a little bit of a metaphor of the spiritual reality

So Jesus is walking in that part of the temple which is all that was left of the massive, glorious temple of Solomon This was His final public appearance.  The rest is going to be private.  Verse 40 says, after this, He went away.  He went away.  He went away for three months When He came back, it was raise Lazarus, come into the city; a week later, crucifixion, resurrection

This is a very significant moment It really is winter So, they are celebrating their great human deliverer while murdering their Savior Amazing.  Amazing. 

The Jews gathered around Jesus and asked, mockingly, how long He would keep them in suspense about His identity, saying that if He is the Messiah, He should just come out and say so (verse 24).

Henry gives us this analysis:

They came round about him, to tease him; he was waiting for an opportunity to do them a kindness, and they took the opportunity to do him a mischief. Ill-will for good-will is no rare and uncommon return. He could not enjoy himself, no, not in the temple, his Father’s house, without disturbance. They came about him, as it were, to lay siege to him: encompassed him about like bees. They came about him as if they had a joint and unanimous desire to be satisfied; came as one man, pretending an impartial and importunate enquiry after truth, but intending a general assault upon our Lord Jesus; and they seemed to speak the sense of their nation, as if they were the mouth of all the Jews: How long dost thou make us to doubt? If thou be the Christ tell us.

Now, [1.] It was the effect of their infidelity, and powerful prejudices, that after our Lord Jesus had so fully proved himself to be the Christ they were still in doubt concerning it; this they willingly hesitated about, when they might easily have been satisfied. The struggle was between their convictions, which told them he was Christ, and their corruptions, which said, No, because he was not such a Christ as they expected. Those who choose to be sceptics may, if they please, hold the balance so that the most cogent arguments may not weigh down the most trifling objections, but scales may still hang even. [2.] It was an instance of their impudence and presumption that they laid the blame of their doubting upon Christ himself, as if he made them to doubt by inconsistency with himself, whereas in truth they made themselves doubt by indulging their prejudices. If Wisdom’s sayings appear doubtful, the fault is not in the object, but in the eye; they are all plain to him that understands. Christ would make us to believe; we make ourselves to doubt.

Jesus called out the Jews’ unbelief by saying that He had already told them who He is and that the works He did in His Father’s name testified to Him (verse 25); they could not believe because they were not of His flock (verse 26).

MacArthur explains:

That’s the problem You don’t believe I told you.  You don’t believe.  And not only did I tell you, but “the works that I do in my Father’s name, these testify of Me”.  But you do not believe. 

Also:

Then verse 26 says this: “Because you are not of My sheep.”  What a statement.  That’s the divine side.  You don’t believe, and you’re fully culpable for that unbelief, and you will be held responsible eternally for that unbelief.  You will receive a just punishment for that unbelief.  But the divine side is: you don’t believe because you are not of My sheep.  Really, a stunning statementYou don’t belong to me

Jesus told the unbelieving Jews that His sheep hear His voice; He knows them and they follow Him (verse 27).

MacArthur explains how shepherding is done collectively. Each shepherd knows his sheep and they recognise his voice:

… when a shepherd goes into a fold in the morning, the sheep have been held there, the village sheep, there are many shepherds who have put all of their sheep together collectively in one fold overnight, and in the morning come and get their own sheep and each sheep knows the voice of his own master That was something they were familiar with. 

Jesus emphasised that what God had given Him, no man can take away from Him.

Jesus gives them eternal life and they will never die; no one can take those souls away from Him (verse 28).

He adds that what the Father has given Him is greater than all else and that no one can take that away from the Father (verse 29).

Jesus closes by saying that He and His Father are One (verse 30).

Henry says that our Lord’s words are a rebuke to His audience and a statement that He and God are united in purpose for our redemption:

Note, Those are safe who are in the hands of the Lord Jesus. The saints are preserved in Christ Jesus: and their salvation is not in their own keeping, but in the keeping of a Mediator. The Pharisees and rulers did all they could to frighten the disciples of Christ from following him, reproving and threatening them, but Christ saith that they shall not prevail. (b.) His Father’s power is likewise engaged for their preservation, John 10:29; John 10:29. He now appeared in weakness, and, lest his security should therefore be thought insufficient, he brings in his Father as a further security. Observe, [a.] The power of the Father: My Father is greater than all; greater than all the other friends of the church, all the other shepherds, magistrates or ministers, and able to do that for them which they cannot do. Those shepherds slumber and sleep, and it will be easy to pluck the sheep out of their hands; but he keeps his flock day and night. He is greater than all the enemies of the church, all the opposition given to her interests, and able to secure his own against all their insults; he is greater than all the combined force of hell and earth. He is greater in wisdom than the old serpent, though noted for subtlety; greater in strength than the great red dragon, though his name be legion, and his title principalities and powers. The devil and his angels have had many a push, many a pluck for the mastery, but have never yet prevailed, Revelation 12:7; Revelation 12:8. The Lord on high is mightier. [b.] The interest of the Father in the sheep, for the sake of which this power is engaged for them: “It is my Father that gave them to me, and he is concerned in honour to uphold his gift.” They were given to the Son as a trust to be managed by him, and therefore God will still look after them. All the divine power is engaged for the accomplishment of all the divine counsels. [c.] The safety of the saints inferred from these two. If this be so, then none (neither man nor devil) is able to pluck them out of the Father’s hand, not able to deprive them of the grace they have, nor to hinder them from the glory that is designed them; not able to put them out of God’s protection, nor get them into their own power. Christ had himself experienced the power of his Father upholding and strengthening him, and therefore puts all his followers into his hand too. He that secured the glory of the Redeemer will secure the glory of the redeemed. Further to corroborate the security, that the sheep of Christ may have strong consolation, he asserts the union of these two undertakers: “I and my Father are one, and have jointly and severally undertaken for the protection of the saints and their perfection.” This denotes more than the harmony, and consent, and good understanding, that were between the Father and the Son in the work of man’s redemption. Every good man is so far one with God as to concur with him; therefore it must be meant of the oneness of the nature of Father and Son, that they are the same in substance, and equal in power and glory.

MacArthur tells us:

This is where our Lord found His encouragement If one is chosen to be a sheep; if one is designed to be a love gift from the Father to the Son, to love and serve Him forever in eternal glory, he is secure in that, listen, choice.  He is secured in that choice, which is then worked out in redemptive history Eternal life is eternal.  Does that seem like a stretch?

People say, can you lose your salvation?  What kind of life is it?  Temporary life?  Temporal life?  It’s eternal life.  And just in case that’s confusing, Jesus says, “And they will never perish.”  So you have positive I give them eternal life And a negative: and they will never perish Never.  To perish is to be separated from eternal life into eternal death.  No one will be separated from eternal life who possesses it.  No one.  All that the Father gives to Me will come to Me All who come to Me, I receive.  I don’t turn any away.  I raise them all to glory

Your eternal salvation rests in God’s eternal decree You will live forever because God chose you to live forever You will never perish because God designed salvation that way.  To give to you a salvation that is eternal that is literally born along by a faith that cannot die

That divine promise gives us much to consider in the week ahead.

May all reading this have a blessed Sunday.

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