“Then came the Feast of Dedication at Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was 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.” Again the Jews picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus said to them, “I have shown you many great miracles from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?” “We are not stoning you for any of these,” replied the Jews, “but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.” Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I have said you are gods’? If he called them ‘gods,’ to whom the word of God came—and the Scripture cannot be broken— what about the one whom the Father set apart as his very own and sent into the world? Why then do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said, ‘I am God’s Son’? Do not believe me unless I do what my Father does. But if I do it, even though you do not believe me, believe the miracles, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father.” Again they tried to seize him, but he escaped their grasp. Then Jesus went back across the Jordan to the place where John had been baptizing in the early days. Here he stayed and many people came to him. They said, “Though John never performed a miraculous sign, all that John said about this man was true.” And in that place many believed in Jesus. (John 10:22–11:1, NIV)John continues in His gospel now recording events which occur 2 months after the previous verses. The Feast of Dedication is what is known today as Hanukah. Once again, people are gathered to celebrate the feast in Jerusalem and Jesus uses this opportunity to address the crowd.
But notice that there is a cumulative effect that is occurring. The people have heard what Jesus has said, they have seen the miracles He has performed and they have observed His character in the midst of both admiration and accusation. Their conclusion: “This is no ordinary man! In fact, He is so extraordinary, it just might be possible that He is the Christ!”
The suspense was too great. We don’t know who it was but some brave soul had the courage to ask what was on everyone’s mind: “Are you the promised Messiah?”
Jesus responds by saying, “I have already answered the question by what I have said and what I have done. The evidence is sufficient, but you do not believe.”
Jesus then draws their attention back to the analogy He spoke to them just 2 months earlier. “Faith must precede understanding. You do not understand who I am and what I have done because you refuse to believe. Those who believe know my voice and they follow me. God is in control and whatever is true of God is true of Me.”
Well...they got their answer! But they didn’t like what they heard. This exposes the fact that those who asked the question had already made up their minds about Jesus. More accurately, they should have asked, “Since we know who you are not the Messiah…then who are you?”
It is clear from their response that they understood what Jesus said. He claimed to be God (because He is) and so they did what the law prescribed: “Kill anyone who makes a false claim about God.” (Ex 24:15-16)
Don’t miss this! Jesus has now openly declared, “I am God with skin on.”
The people responded with blinded eyes, “No you are not. We do not believe you.”
And so their confusion turned into frustration and their frustration into anger. Their anger would eventually lead to the unforgivable sin – denying the person and work of Jesus the Christ.
But on that day, the scripture says, “Many believed”. Did they believe because they understood? Did it all make perfect sense to them? In a word, “No”.
The difference between the two groups was this: One chose to lean on their own understanding and refused to trust in someone who had given them every reason to believe. Their understanding prevented their faith.
The other chose to believe even though they didn’t fully understand. There was no good reason to deny what Jesus had said to be true. Their faith preceded their understanding.
Where are you? Are you walking in faith with the assurance of things hoped for and the conviction of things not seen? (Heb 11:1)