The Feast of Dedication was not prescribed by God in the Scripture. Better known today as Hanukkah, it was instituted by the Jewish Priest Maccabees in 165BC, to celebrate the re-dedication of the temple after it had been desecrated by Antiochus Epiphanes. So nationalistic tensions would have been running high and the desire for a Messiah who would overthrow the Roman Empire even higher. Jesus is not that kind of Christ (the Anglicised Greek for Messiah). The Jews, or at least the religious leaders, came to Jesus to ask “How long will you keep us in suspense?” – The Bible Speaks Today commentary reckons “How long will you annoy us?” is a valid translation and catches the sentiment here.
They are not part of Christ’s flock. The flock is made up of those who believe, and Jesus gives us some pointers of what believers, the flock, are like…
- They hear God’s voice – one of the identity markers of the new people of God, the new Israel made up of Jews and Gentiles who are in Christ, is that we are Spirit filled. Acts 2 tells us that the Joel 2 prophecy is fulfilled. We shall prophesy! Our inheritance is to be able to hear God’s voice for ourselves – in Scripture, in dreams and visions, prophetic words, words of knowledge and so on.
- They follow Jesus – Christ’s flock hear God’s voice and are obedient. If you have not heard God’s voice in Scripture or prophecy for a long time, have you obeyed what He last told you? Have you been baptised in water? Are you putting sin to death? Are you listening to His still small voice about what you fill your mind with? Are you watching what comes out of your mouth?
- No-one can snatch them out of my hand (v. 28), or the Father’s hand (v. 29). Believers are eternally secure! When you put your trust in Jesus, He made you a new creation. You were born again. The old has gone and the new has come (2 Corinthians 5:17). Your spirit, which was dead because of sin, has been made alive in Christ! What He has begun in you, He will carry on to completion (Phil 1:6). Hallelujah!
- Were given to Jesus by the Father – you chose to follow Christ, but then you discover that you were chosen by Him and He is greater than all.
All of that is because Jesus and the Father are one! And with that the Jewish leaders wanted to stone Jesus for blasphemy. They accuse him – “a mere man, making himself God” – which is ironic. That is the essence of Adam’s first sin, which Jesus is coming to sort out!
Jesus walks away from the angry crowds back to where John the Baptist had been baptising and sees a multitude put their faith in Him.
Faith in Him is breath-taking. Let’s go for the multitudes. The fields are white to harvest and all that is required is workers. Come on, let’s be up and going for them!