I’d like you to consider the following question. True or False: “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” That’s a quote by pastor and author, A. W. Tozer in his book, The Knowledge of the Holy, about the attributes of God. Read the quote again. What do you think about it? True or False?
The ramification of that quote is the idea that if we are wrong in our conception of God, in our understanding of God, then we will be much more likely to be wrong in the way we live our lives. No doubt there are people throughout the history of the world who have been wrong in their conception of God, and they have lived incredibly good lives. There are also people with excellent theology, but are truly awful people. But my opinion is that, generally-speaking, the quote is correct. If it is correct, we will want to have proper thoughts about God, because our thoughts about God will inspire us to live in a way that is in line with the heart and mission of God.
The important next question, then, is this: are we thinking rightly about God? This week on the blog, we’re going to meet some people who were thinking very wrongly about God. They will serve as a cautionary tale for us. But first, let me back up a bit.
I spent the month of March 2023 teaching in India, and therefore took a hiatus from the blog. While I was away, guest preachers filled in for me at Faith Church. So if you’ve been following our blog series through the Gospel of John, you’ll notice that there are no posts about John 8:12 through John 10:21. Four weeks ago, my father-in-law, Dr. Sandy Good preached John 10:1-21, and the next week my dad, Dr. Harold Kime, preached a Palm Sunday sermon. Then on Easter I preached John 11:1-45 (blog posts starting here), because Jesus says “I am the resurrection and the life,” and then goes on to resurrect his friend Lazarus from the dead. Last week was Current Events week (blog posts starting here). Now we’re back to the Gospel of John. It would seem that we should begin John 12, but we skipped twenty verses in John chapter 10! This we’re going back to cover what we missed.
Before we start John 10:22-42, I want to say how thankful I am for the various guest preachers we had during the month of March when I was in India. In addition to the two preachers I mentioned above, we had three from Faith Church who continued the Gospel of John series. Daymarr Jackson preached John 8:12-30 about Jesus being the Light of the World. David Hundert preached John 8:31-59 about Jesus being God before Abraham. Emerald Scaffe preached John chapter 9 about the story of Jesus healing the blind man who said, “I was blind, but now I see.”
In these sermons and the chapters preceding them, one of the story lines we’ve observed is the deteriorating relationship between Jesus and the Jewish religious leaders. For example, look at John 10, verses 19-21, the last few verses before our passage for today:
“At these words the Jews were again divided. Many of them said, ‘He is demon-possessed and raving mad. Why listen to him?’ But others said, ‘These are not the sayings of a man possessed by a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?’”
When the Gospel of John mentions “the Jews,” the writer is almost always talking about the Jewish religious leaders. What we see in John 10:19-21 is that not only was the relationship between Jesus and the religious leaders in bad shape, but also the relationship between the religious leaders themselves is conflicted because of Jesus. What in the world should be done about this Jesus?
That brings us to verse 22, and the passage we’re going to study today. The scene changes between verses 21 and 22, so let’s read verses 22-23 to find out where Jesus goes next.
“Then came the Feast of Dedication at Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was in the temple area walking in Solomon’s Colonnade.”
Jesus heads back to Jerusalem for another feast. Your Bibles might include a text note to let you know that the feast is Hanukah. Like most Jews, Jesus follows the custom of taking a pilgrimage to Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast. He’s not doing anything out of the ordinary by going to Jerusalem or by walking in the temple courts. Yet, the Jewish leaders remain on high alert for him, almost as if they have alerted all the authorities to keep an eye out for him. We’ll find out what happens in the next post.
Photo by Anthony Tori on Unsplash