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The Feast Of Dedication

by David Johnson

IMG_0666(Transcribed from the Words of Life Radio Program)

It is good to be together again and to be able to look into the Word of God together.

The title for the lesson is, “The feast of dedication.” Listen to the Word of God found in the gospel of John chapter 10 and verses 22 through 30. “’Then came the Feast of Dedication at Jerusalem. It was winter. And Jesus was walking in the temple area, walking in Solomon’s colonnade. The Jews gathered around him saying, ‘How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly’. Jesus answered, ‘I did tell you, but you do 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. My sheep listen to my voice. I know them and they follow me. I give them eternal life and they shall never perish. No one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father who has given them to me is greater than all. No one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.’”

And so the time, according to John chapter 10 and verse 22, was the Feast of Dedication. This refers to the Jewish feast of rededication of the cleansing of the temple after it had been desecrated by the Syrian, Antiochus Epiphanies, in about the year 170 BC, before Christ. And he desecrated the temple by setting up a pagan altar and slaughtering a pig in the Jewish holy of holies, in the most holy place. And so the Jews have celebrated the Feast of Dedication which is also known as the Feast of Lights, or today commonly known as Hanukkah. Hanukkah in the Hebrew means dedication. And this is when devout Jews, even today, the world over light lamps and candles in their homes remembering the rededication. Hanukkah begins at sunset and lasts for eight days. And Jesus was in Jerusalem on this feast day and in the temple during this annual feast of the Jews.

It is interesting that today in American during this season many adorn their homes with lights. And we as Christians celebrate because we recognize that it is the season of that perfect light who came into a dark world. Even Jesus Christ the light of the world, according to John chapter eight and verse 12, which tells us it was winter, according to the Jewish calendar, therefore colder weather. And the details of Scripture are accurate. All inspired of the Holy Spirit. And so the writer, the apostle John, noted that Jesus walked, according to verse 23, in Solomon’s colonnade, that is, the porched area on the eastern side of the temple which sheltered Christ from the wind and the cold, because the Son of God gave up a perfect environment in heaven to endure hunger and hurt and cold and wind just like us, because he became one of us except for sin, to bear and to atone for our sin.

Because he loves us so. Christ died for us. And so we should ask ourselves. Are we willing to live for him?
John chapter 10 and verse 24 they said to him, if you are the Christ, tell us plainly. They challenged him. And, you see, these Jews were not really seeking clarity or understanding. They wanted Jesus to declare openly that he is the Christ, the Son of God, in order to accuse and attack him, as they believed him to be an imposter, a fake, a false Messiah. And yet sadly, many today, especially during this season, ridicule and reject Jesus as the Son of God, as Messiah, as King, not only of Israel, but King of the nations, King of the earth.

In verse 25 Jesus answered, “I did tell you.” For example, earlier in John chapter eight and verse 58 he said, “I tell you the truth. Before Abraham was born, I am.” Jesus Christ is deity in bodily form, God in flesh, the holy one of God. And in the thrust of all of his teachings, even the skeptics, the unbelievers of his day exclaimed that no one spoke like this man. And today most, including some professing Christians, reject the inerrancy, the full inspiration of the Word of God. Some would disregard the red print of Jesus’ actual sayings as Scripture. But all Scripture from Genesis 1:1 to Revelation 22:21, the whole counsel of God, is all God breathed, all inspired of God, all inerrant, without error, and useful for training in righteousness. And the miracles Jesus did in his Father’s name, they actually attributed these to Beelzebub, that is, Satan, the prince of demons, according to Matthew chapter 12 and verse 24. And, therefore, with these examples they really had utterly already rejected him as Messiah King, as the Son of God.

Also in verse 26 Jesus said, “You do not believe, because you are not my sheep.” You see, sheep follow their shepherd and the shepherd knows his sheep. Jesus Christ is the good shepherd according to John chapter 10 and verse 11. Jesus Christ is the great shepherd according to Hebrews chapter 13 and verse 20. Jesus Christ is the shepherd and overseer of our souls according to 1 Peter chapter two and verse 25. And Jesus Christ is our chief shepherd according to 1 Peter chapter five and verse four.

 

Today more and more emphasize the legend, the spirit of Santa Claus who is fiction and less and less the person of Jesus Christ, who is in fact a historical person. He walked on this earth. He is the Son of God. He is Messiah, Savior of the world, though the world has rejected him, and Savior of those who would receive him by faith.

In verse 27 Jesus said, “My sheep listen to my voice.” Christ used the local pastoral imagery as a rich illustration of a shepherd and his sheep, because Judean shepherds used a loud sing song voice or sheep type sounds in certain ways to call and to control their sheep. The sheep literally recognize their shepherd’s voice, his pitch or whistle. For example, during World War I Turkish soldiers stole a flock of sheep near Jerusalem and the shepherd awoke to see his sheep driven away. And the shepherd simply put his hands to his mouth and gave his call used every day to call his sheep and his sheep heard their shepherd’s voice and rushed back to him. And the Turkish soldiers could not keep the sheep from returning to their shepherd and master. Not one was lost, a beautiful image for us, for we are the Lord’s flock. His voice today is his holy Word and the quiet inner voice of the Holy Spirit dwelling within us, guiding, directing, protecting and leading us with commands and promises and principles from the Word of God by the Holy Spirit. As his sheep we must listen to his unique Word and will. And his Word is always God’s will. As we remain faithful to our great shepherd, not one will be lost.

Then also in verse 27 it adds the words and they follow me. Sheep follow, never lead. Sometimes we as Christians today stray or go ahead of the Lord, our shepherd, because of our impatience or our stubbornness or our independence from our shepherd, when sheep are always dependent on the shepherd. And it can cause us to try to go it alone. Sheep want to submit to their shepherd, knowing his leadership and guidance. Today through the Scriptures and by the Holy Spirit and sometimes through other mature Christians that are wiser, we learn that rather than doing it my way, we need to do it his way, God’s way, by the Scripture, by the prompting of the Holy Spirit and even through wiser, more mature Christians that can counsel with us.

In verse 28 Jesus said that no one can snatch them, that is his sheep, out of his hand. Not the devil, nor any other human being. No one, nothing can steal God’s property from him. We belong to God. It is strictly our personal decision to receive the good shepherd. Yes, as the Father draws us unto himself and as the Holy Spirit convicts us, in God’s sovereignty he has chosen to give us free will and we choose to receive him by faith, to receive the good shepherd and to remain with the good shepherd, to persevere in the Lord. Because, you see, the sheep’s security is in the power of the shepherd. The sheep also have accountability and responsibility to the shepherd, to follow. This balanced truth is summed up by two equally true passages or verses in the letter of Jude. Our part as sheep Jude verse 21 tells us is to keep ourselves in God’s love. That is our part. That is our responsibility and accountability before God, to keep ourselves in God’s love.

And yet the shepherd’s part, God’s part, is also in this short epistle of Jude in verse 24 where it says it is him who is able to keep us from falling or from stumbling. God will always do his part. But we, as his sheep, must remain faithful in his love. That is our part to keep ourselves in God’s love.

The Feast of Dedication has historical basis for the Jews even today and they continue to celebrate Hanukkah or the Feast of Dedication. But for Christians there is a great application here also. For example, according to 1 Corinthians chapter six and verse 19 our body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in us. Since the Holy Spirit is within us, we become like the temple, or the present day temple in the church age, of the Holy Spirit of God indwelling the born again baptized believer. But because of our sins we can desecrate, so to speak, God’s temple. We are not our own. We were bought at a great price and therefore we need to continue to confess and repent of our sins and rededicate ourselves. Our ‘Christian’ Hanukkah, so to speak, is to get cleansed, to continue to be cleansed by the blood of Christ as we confess and repent, to get purified, to rededicate to the Lord. We do not want to grieve or to quench the Holy Spirit of God who is indwelling us. He is holy and therefore we need to continue to confess and repent and to live out what the apostle John also wrote in his epistle in 1 John chapter one beginning in verse six: “If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus his Son purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” Verse nine: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

 

And again we see that our part is to confess our sins and God’s part is that he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us, not from some unrighteousness, but from all unrighteousness. And therefore this is our daily Feast of Dedication or rededication in the light, in Christ, as we follow the shepherd as his sheep, keeping ourselves in God’s love, persevering in the faith and God continues always to do his part. May we remain faithful to the Lord.

And if you have not received Jesus Chris by faith, may you do so even today. Receive him by faith, genuine faith, a faith that repents, that confesses Jesus as Savior and Lord, as the Son of God, and be baptized into him, immersed into Christ Jesus and then to persevere, remain faithful, remain in his love until he comes for us or until we go through the door of death.

May we continue to honor the Lord with our lives is our prayer and desire in Jesus’ name.

 

David Johnson is minister of the Sellersburg Church of Christ, Sellersburg, IN.




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That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

2 Corinthians 12:10