Note: This series is written as a first-person narrative to present Jesus in the context he walked in with the unknown disciple that narrates introducing my thoughts and sparking more ideas with his questions. Enjoy.
Winter had arrived. Along with it, the Festival of Dedication at Jerusalem. Hanukkah. This festival celebrated Israel’s deliverance and the temple’s rededication in the time of the Maccabees.
Jesus was in the temple courts walking in Solomon’s Colonnade. It protected us from the cold wind with its pillars. The Jews who were there gathered around him, saying, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.”
Jesus answered, “I did tell you, but you do not believe. The works I do in my Father’s name testify about me, but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.”
I remembered something from the Psalms. It was…” for he is our God
and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care. Today, if only you would hear his voice…”
Jesus was still speaking, “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”
The crowd grew angry. His Jewish opponents picked up stones to stone him, and we got ready to grab Jesus and run, but Jesus said to them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?”
Oh. One way to shame opponents was to remind them that you had been kind and generous to them.
“We are not stoning you for any good work,” they replied, “but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.”
It wasn’t lost on me that this celebration partly commemorated liberation from Antiochus IV Epiphanes, a man who claimed to be divine; but Jesus was the divine Son of God made flesh.
Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I have said you are “gods”’? If he called them ‘gods,’ to whom the word of God came—and Scripture cannot be set aside— what 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’? Do not believe me unless I do the works of my Father. But if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father.”
Again they tried to seize him, and now we ran.
Jesus went back across the Jordan to the place where John had been baptizing in the early days. Here, Herod Antipas ruled, so the leaders in Jerusalem couldn’t touch Jesus here. We stayed, and many people came to Jesus. They said, “Though John never performed a sign, all that John said about this man was true.” And in that place, many believed in Jesus.