Audio Sermon “God's Miniature”

Aug 21, 2016
“God's Miniature" No.3 by Rev. Toru Asai
John 10:22ff., Ps 82, etc.

Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. (Eph 5:1-2)

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Then came the Feast of Dedication at Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was in the temple area walking in Solomon's Colonnade (John 10:22-23).

It was about 200 years before this that the aged priest Mattathias (died soon after the beginning of the revolt) and his sons joined by the orthodox Jews revolted against Antiochus IV Epiphanes (175-163 B.C.E) king of Syrian who forced the Jews to be Hellenized not only culturally, but also religiously—forbidding them to keep the commandments of the Torah like circumcision, keeping the Sabbath, and observing various festivals. After the death of Mattathias, his third son, Judas (called "the Maccabee" meaning "the hammer") took the leadership, and his followers came to called "the Maccabees." They continued combatting the Syrian forces and finally liberated Jerusalem, and went up to Mount Zion to see the Temple, which had been abandoned for three years: they found the altar profaned, the gates burned, and bushes growing in the courts. They tore their clothes, spread ashes upon them, brew trumpets, and cried to God. Tearing down the profaned altar, they built a new one, and consecrated the interior of the temple: they brought in the lampstand, the incense altar, and the table, and lit the lamps. Then, beginning with the 25th day of Kislev (Dec. 14, 164 B.C.), they celebrated the Feast of Dedication (also called "Hanukkah," and "the Festival of Lights.") for eight days.

The story of John 10:22ff. took place on Dec. 16, 32 A.D. (Tuesday), and the Feast of Dedication had begun probably the evening before that day. It could be that the morning prayer (shacharit) was just given, and the smoke of the newly offered sacrifice was going up into the sky from the altar, and people were leaving the temple that time. According to their custom, they gave prayers along with a particular psalm (shir shel yom) which was assigned to each day of the week, and on that Tuesday, they recited Psalm 82. Jesus was there among the crowd, and some patriotic Jews found him walking in Solomon's Colonnade, which was probably located on the eastern side of the Temple Court looking down the Kidron Valley. They asked:

How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly (v. 24)..

Just north of the temple rose the large walls and the high towers of the Fortress of Antonia, from which some Roman guards were always watching over the Temple Courts. To the question the Jews asked, Jesus answered by repeating what he taught two days before with the parables of the shepherd and his sheep (10:1-18). He began answering by saying, "I did tell you, but you do not believe." The teaching was given with Ps 24 in the background: Jesus is "the King of glory" who comes in through the gates. He will bring his flock out from the sheep pen, and those who know his voice will follow him.

I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. What my Father has given me is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand. I and the Father are one (vv. 29-31).

In these words, Jesus made two incredible statements that stunned either the Jews or the Christians in the past: while his last statement upset the Jews of his time, the statement about the sheep puzzled the Christians. The NIV's translation, "My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all," comes from the emended text, not the original one. It was apparently emended because they considered it far excessive to say that the sheep is "greater than all." But Jesus did say, "What my Father has given me is greater than all." He even went on to explain that those to whom God's word came are "gods" on the basis of Ps 82. These gods attend the heavenly council, and they are those who carry out the will of God according to the words and order given to them. We humans were created, in fact, as such beings from the beginning. But when sin came in, we stopped being gods, and began dying as mere men. So, the Father sent his Son to us to bring us out of the bondage of death, and made us gods again in Christ.

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