Sermons

Summary: If Jesus really is the Christ, what implications does this have for us?

Saxlingham/Briningham/Hunworth 02-05-04

This morning’s Gospel reading takes place in Jerusalem during the Feast of Dedication (v.22), which is still celebrated today in Israel as the Feast of Hannakuk.

Hannakuk takes place in December each year and for the Jews is their equivalent of Christmas.

Background

The Feast of Hannakuk

The Feast Of Dedication about two months after the Feast of Tabernacles and commemorates the rededication of the temple in 164 B.C. (1 Macc 4:36-59; 2 Macc 10:1-8; Josephus Antiquities of the Jews 12.316-26).

The Seleucid king Antiochus IV (Epiphanes) had forbidden Jews to continue to practice their religion and had tried to force them to worship Zeus.

He had an altar set up in the temple in Jerusalem and had sacrificed a pig on this altar on the 25th of Chislev in 167 B.C. This was the ultimate insult for the Jewish nation.

This led to a revolt known as the Maccabean Revolt. It was initiated by a priest named Mattathias and then carried on under the leadership of his son Judas, known as Maccabeus, "the hammer" (1 Macc 1--3; 2 Macc 5--9; Josephus Antiquities of the Jews 12.248-315).

The revolt was successful, and the temple was restored and rededicated, with proper sacrifice being offered once again, beginning on the 25th of Chislev, 164 B.C.

An eight-day feast was held to commemorate the event and continued each year from then on.

A hallmark of the festival is the lighting of lamps and a sense of joy. [IVP Bible Commentary - Jesus Claims to Be the Messiah and to Be One with God (10:22-42)]

The occasion for Jesus’ words today is highly significant, if not ironic

1. Messiah

At the Feast of Dedication, the Jews celebrated Judas Maccabees as the Messiah – the one who had freed them from the yoke of the Syrian King.

Yet standing among them was THE Messiah who was to free them from the slavery of sin – and they didn’t recognise him. They remembered Judas Maccabees – as the Messiah for that time. Yet they missed the timeless Messiah.

It is not as if they weren’t told:

“Tell us plainly if you are the Messiah” the Jews ask. To which Jesus replied “I did tell you, but you did not believe” The miracles I do in my Father’s name speak for me but you do not believe because you are not my sheep.(Jn 10:25-26)

They celebrated the rededication of the Temple by the lighting of lamps yet missed the One True Light - the very one who said: “I am the Light of the World.”

2. Freedom

At the Feast of Dedication the Jews celebrated the earthly freedom of Jerusalem.

Yet they missed eternal freedom that Jesus came to bring to his own to His Sheep. A freedom for everyone to enjoy YET which he offers – on his terms.

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. (Jn 10:27-28).

3. God’s people

The Jews claimed to be God’s people, yet Jesus redefined this term.

Yet they missed the fact that God’s people were those whom received his son Jesus.

As St John put it:

But to all who received Him who believed in His name, he gave power to become children of God.

The supreme irony is that they thought they were God’s people yet they weren’t.

And who are God’s people – the people Jesus refers to as His sheep. They are those who

i) listen to Jesus’ voice;

ii) follow Him and

iii) are known by Him.

Let’s have a look at the three aspects of God’s people in a little more detail

1. The first aspect of the people of God - Jesus’ sheep – is that they listen to His voice

What does it mean to listen to Jesus’ voice?

I think it is best summed up by the Parable of Wise and Foolish Builders. (Lk 6:46-49)

You will recall that Jesus told the parable of the wise man who built his house on a rock and the foolish man who built his house on the sand.

And Jesus explained the meaning of the parable.

The house symbolises our lives.

Both builders heard the word of God .But the difference between them is that the wise builder put Jesus’ words into effect in his life while the foolish builder did not.

2. The second aspect of the people of God is that they follow Him

What does it mean today to follow Jesus? To be his disciple.

The Jews to whom Jesus was speaking were very religious. Yet Jesus says about them.

“....but you do not believe because you are not my sheep.” (Jn 10: 26)

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