Rumbles In Tabernacles: Blocks In Eye Of Beholder

stumbling-block-or-stepping-stone-1-638There is a tradition in earlier life in America for doctors to make house calls.  These were especially to follow up on those that were so sick that they could not make it to the office.  Jesus was very much like a doctor except for the whole person including spiritual sickness.  This is not an idea without merit.  I have heard of doctors trained in India on how to treat their patients using the interactions of Jesus as examples on the best doctor-patient engagement.

Jesus made an unwelcome house call on the elite of the temple in Jerusalem.  He had been in Jerusalem a few months before for the week of the official Feast of Tabernacles.  He showed mercy to some and very tough words towards holiness for the elite.  He left off a few months before with the elite that he was the good shepherd.  He picks up from there both in words and action in a festival that was considered by some as another Feast of Tabernacles.  And on this call, Jesus brings medicine with him but with a bitter taste.

Again there was a division among the Jews because of these words. Many of them said, “He is possessed and out of his mind; why listen to him?” Others said, “These are not the words of one possessed; surely a demon cannot open the eyes of the blind, can he?” The feast of the Dedication was then taking place in Jerusalem. It was winter. And Jesus walked about in the temple area on the Portico of Solomon. So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, “How long are you going to keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.” Jesus answered them, “I told you and you do not believe. The works I do in my Father’s name testify to me. But you do not believe, because you are not among my sheep. My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish. No one can take them out of my hand.  My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one can take them out of the Father’s hand. The Father and I are one.” (John 10:19-29).

Again there was a division among the Jews because of these words-  Taking the wording at face value one may see not only the struggle among them but the struggle that may have been inside each of them.  To interpret Jesus for all he intended to be understood is to be anything but indifferent.  The gospels never leave indifference open as an option.  In some reactions to the gospel a refusal may be ironically a first step to a later conversion.

And Jesus walked about in the temple area on the Portico of Solomon- This is no small thing to the first readers of John’s gospel.  When they read this, it was established in Church history that the Portico of Solomon was a gathering place for the early Church as the Book of Acts shows how “ [m]any signs and wonders were done among the people at the hands of the apostles. They were all together in Solomon’s portico”  (Acts 5:12).

God’s ways were often foreshadowed with “walking about”. Abraham walked about the land of Canaan in a manner consistent with it being promised to him and his descendants. God walked to and fro in front of Moses.  In four months or less, Jesus would be crucified.  Three days later he would rise from the dead.  40 days after the resurrection he ascended to heaven.  50 days later the Holy Spirit proceeded from the Father and The Son (Filioque) upon the Church.  “Every day they devoted themselves to meeting together in the temple area and to breaking bread in their homes. They ate their meals with exultation and sincerity of heart” (Acts 2:46).  At least for a season, this would be a context of a sheep pen for his flock.  Jesus showed a sign by his “walking about” with a historical context behind him and the Church in front of him.  Or from another point of view Jesus was marking his territory spiritually with every step in that he would undermine the Pharisee traditions with himself.

How long are you going to keep us in suspense?- The elite had already been a little scandalized, now they wanted Jesus to go all the way. This was not because they had spiritual sight, Jesus made that clear, but because they were hungry in part.  At some level, those who were hungry were in pain.

The works I do in my Father’s name testify to me.-  Jesus speaks in the authority of the God of Israel. Sometimes in salvation history action speaks louder than words.

My sheep hear my voice- Jesus has an authority for a special flock which is known later as the Church and is called out for a purpose.  Jesus makes that call.

I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life-  Jesus has said that he had come that he would give them life more abundantly and now he is doing this in the present.  Light for Hannukah is good, but the life of God is better.

No one can take them out of my hand-  Darkness does not overtake Jesus who with his Church is the light of the world.  “And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18).  The hand of Jesus has a sacramental context that would go from generation to generation by which the Church is built and he still builds “As I am with you always.  Even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).

My Father, who has given them to me- A reminder that the source of authority and special community is with the Father’s authority.

…out of the Father’s hand. The Father and I are one-  As said above, the elite wanted more scandalous talk and Jesus delivers on that.  Two hands involved?  Yes and no.  Jesus lets them know that he and the Father are one in essence.  Scandal and mystery was a stumbling block to the elite.  But to the humble, scandal and mystery are the brick and mortar of the Church.  They are sacred and essential.  Jesus in wishing to fulfill their hunger drops one more spiritual truth in this conversation that is now more scandal than mystery.  Can they handle it?  Can we now? Hungry or not, we have a choice.

There is a tradition in earlier life in America for doctors to make house calls.  These were especially to follow up on those that were so sick that they could not make it to the office.  Jesus was very much like a doctor except for the whole person including spiritual sickness.  This is not an idea without merit.  I have heard of doctors trained in India on how to treat their patients using the interactions of Jesus as examples on the best doctor-patient engagement.

Jesus made an unwelcome house call on the elite of the temple in Jerusalem.  He had been in Jerusalem a few months before for the week of the official Feast of Tabernacles.  He showed mercy to some and very tough words towards holiness for the elite.  He left off a few months before with the elite that he was the good shepherd.  He picks up from there both in words and action in a festival that was considered by some as another Feast of Tabernacles.  And on this call, Jesus brings medicine with him but with a bitter taste.

Again there was a division among the Jews because of these words. Many of them said, “He is possessed and out of his mind; why listen to him?” Others said, “These are not the words of one possessed; surely a demon cannot open the eyes of the blind, can he?” The feast of the Dedication was then taking place in Jerusalem. It was winter. And Jesus walked about in the temple area on the Portico of Solomon. So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, “How long are you going to keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.” Jesus answered them, “I told you and you do not believe. The works I do in my Father’s name testify to me. But you do not believe, because you are not among my sheep. My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish. No one can take them out of my hand.  My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one can take them out of the Father’s hand. The Father and I are one.” (John 10:19-29).

Again there was a division among the Jews because of these words-  Taking the wording at face value one may see not only the struggle among them but the struggle that may have been inside each of them.  To interpret Jesus for all he intended to be understood is to be anything but indifferent.  The gospels never leave indifference open as an option.  In some reactions to the gospel a refusal may be ironically a first step to a later conversion.

And Jesus walked about in the temple area on the Portico of Solomon- This is no small thing to the first readers of John’s gospel.  When they read this, it was established in Church history that the Portico of Solomon was a gathering place for the early Church as the Book of Acts shows how “ [m]any signs and wonders were done among the people at the hands of the apostles. They were all together in Solomon’s portico”  (Acts 5:12).

God’s ways were often foreshadowed with “walking about”. Abraham walked about the land of Canaan in a manner consistent with it being promised to him and his descendants. God walked to and fro in front of Moses.  In four months or less, Jesus would be crucified.  Three days later he would rise from the dead.  40 days after the resurrection he ascended to heaven.  50 days later the Holy Spirit proceeded from the Father and The Son (Filioque) upon the Church.  “Every day they devoted themselves to meeting together in the temple area and to breaking bread in their homes. They ate their meals with exultation and sincerity of heart” (Acts 2:46).  At least for a season, this would be a context of a sheep pen for his flock.  Jesus showed a sign by his “walking about” with a historical context behind him and the Church in front of him.  Or from another point of view Jesus was marking his territory spiritually with every step in that he would undermine the Pharisee traditions with himself.

How long are you going to keep us in suspense?- The elite had already been a little scandalized, now they wanted Jesus to go all the way. This was not because they had spiritual sight, Jesus made that clear, but because they were hungry in part.  At some level, those who were hungry were in pain.

The works I do in my Father’s name testify to me.-  Jesus speaks in the authority of the God of Israel. Sometimes in salvation history action speaks louder than words.

My sheep hear my voice- Jesus has an authority for a special flock which is known later as the Church and is called out for a purpose.  Jesus makes that call.

I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life-  Jesus has said that he had come that he would give them life more abundantly and now he is doing this in the present.  Light for Hannukah is good, but the life of God is better.

No one can take them out of my hand-  Darkness does not overtake Jesus who with his Church is the light of the world.  “And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18).  The hand of Jesus has a sacramental context that would go from generation to generation by which the Church is built and he still builds “As I am with you always.  Even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).

My Father, who has given them to me- A reminder that the source of authority and special community is with the Father’s authority.

…out of the Father’s hand. The Father and I are one-  As said above, the elite wanted more scandalous talk and Jesus delivers on that.  Two hands involved?  Yes and no.  Jesus lets them know that he and the Father are one in essence.  Scandal and mystery was a stumbling block to the elite.  But to the humble, scandal and mystery are the brick and mortar of the Church.  They are sacred and essential.  Jesus in wishing to fulfill their hunger drops one more spiritual truth in this conversation that is now more scandal than mystery.  Can they handle it?  Can we now? Hungry or not, we have a choice.

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