"The challenge for most mainline Christians is not following Jesus. We've been taught pretty well about that. The challenge for us is recognizing Jesus' voice."
Season of Easter
Fourth Sunday of Easter
Click here, John 10:22-30, for an easy to print or email Adobe PDF version.
Sermon by the Rev. Dr. George Hermanson, "The Shepherd."
The historical background below is derived from Bruce Malina, et. al. (See footnote below.)
The context for the question posed in Verse 24 is given in verses 19-21 - controversy among Judeans over who Jesus is. What are they to make of his deviant behaviour? His behaviour must either be caused by an evil spirit or the spirit of God. Jesus' challenging and provoking of the authorities and upsetting social harmony suggest he is possessed by an evil spirit. But on the other hand, "can a demon open the eyes of the blind?"
It can never be stressed too many times that while John was writing at a time when the followers of Jesus were in open hostility with Jews who were not part of John's inner circle, Jesus was not.
Jesus was a Jew, his followers were Jewish. His opponents were the authorities, some of whom were Roman and some of whom were Jewish. The challenges and opposition represented in this text is NOT between Jesus and ALL Jews. It is between Jesus and his Jewish followers and other Jews - most especially those with authority and privileged status.
Thus the distinctions in verse 26 and following is NOT between ALL Jews who do not believe / do not belong to my sheep, and non-Jews who do believe. It is a distinction among Jews who are trying to discern the spirit of Jesus without 2,000 years of hindsight to guide them.
Verse 22. The Festival of the Dedication - refers to Hanukkah.
In my limited understanding of Jewish faith, the request posed in Verse 24:
If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.
is THE pivotal question as the promised Messiah will actually bring God's reign on earth as it is in heaven.
Therefore to falsely claim to be the Messiah, or falsely raise expectations of the imminent return of the Messiah, is a most serious blasphemy.