During the Feast of Dedication (John 10:22) and only three months away from crucifixion, Jesus is confronted for the final time in His public ministry by the Jewish religious leaders. Jesus’s desire for these religious leaders to believe is an act of His mercy, an attribute of God manifested in Christ. Though not mentioned in this passage, the twelve disciples are witnessing the debate between Jesus and the religious unbelief at Solomon’s portico (John 10:23). It was customary for open theological debates to occur during festivals and for followers to be near their Rabbi. Jesus’s followers were only three years old in Christ or less. Though Jesus is specifically addressing unbelief, He is mindful of those listening to Him and how His words might strengthen them. Just as Peter had to be instructed by Paul (Galatians 2), it is normal for the followers of Jesus to become unsettled at times by circumstances and situations.
We learn in John 10:22-23 that Jesus celebrated the Feast of Dedication, a national holiday not mentioned in the Old Testament. It was winter, and Jesus walked in the portico where it would have been warmer. Here, Jesus was confronted for the final time in His public ministry by the religious leaders. Only three months away from crucifixion, Jesus boldly proclaimed (John 10:30) that He and His Father are one, and the Jews picked up stones to kill Him (John 10:31).
In John 10, Jesus refers to Himself twice as the door/gate as well as the Good Shepherd twice. Jesus is speaking to the Pharisees (John 9:40), the religious leaders and spiritual shepherds of the Jewish people. These men, spiritually blind and deaf to the truth of Jesus (John 10:6), are causing division (John 10:19).
Jesus being the Good Shepherd is one of the more familiar depictions of Christ. In John 10, Jesus refers to Himself as both the gate and the Good Shepherd. Jesus’s audience would have had the usual understanding of shepherding in mind. Sheep were a common industry in Israel, not only for clothing and food, but also sacrificed in religious worship as part of regular temple activity.
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