I think I must have subconsciously remembered that the Feast of Dedication was also known as the Feast of Lights. That got my attention. Don’t miss that timing here because I don’t think Jesus did. The Feast of Lights is observed during the Winter solstice when the day with the least hours of light happens. The Light of the World choosing to be at the Feast of Lights during the darkest time of year to celebrate enduring light. Do you see where this is heading?
The Jews had been through a terrible time in their history when this feast first began. They’d endured nearly 200 years of wars, massacres, their faith being outlawed, the Temple in Jerusalem being desecrated and no new prophets raised to reveal new truths about God to them. They were blinded by that loss until the Temple was recaptured and they were called to rebuild it and refocus themselves on the worship of the One true God, as instructed by Moses. The first Feast began as a commemoration to rededicate the Temple and themselves to God and to relight the menorah that was meant to provide light every day and night in the Temple. The Jews knew they only had oil for one day but they chose to give that one day to God out of obedience. And in that moment of obedience God gave them the miracle of enduring light that lasted eight days that they continued to celebrate each of the following 200 years.
Jesus is the new moment of obedience for them at this feast. The same Lord they’ve honored every year since that first beginning has come into their midst. Jesus, the Light of the World, has chosen to reveal the bold declaration of His identity: “I and the Father are one” and then later in verse 38 “the Father is in me and I am in the Father.” At this point in time they’ve lived through a nearly 400-year period between the Old Testament ending with Malachi’s speaking of a new coming of the Lord and the New Testament’s beginning with John the Baptist’s testimony about Jesus as the Messiah. Now God has proven His silence is over…and they’ve missed the moment.
Reading John’s scripture passage is like reading a familiar pattern of daily life. The recorded wisdom of history and the reality of life are all rolled into the two Testaments of His Word. The Bible doesn’t put a pretty face on every experience of life. Sometimes it includes the reality of how easy it is to miss the moment of obedience. And then it speaks of a new moment of hope in Galatians 2:19 TLB…for it was through reading the Scripture that I came to realize that I could never find God’s favor by trying—and failing—to obey the laws. I came to realize that acceptance with God comes by believing in Christ.
citing Isaiah 56:7
…these I will bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer; their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.”
and Jeremiah 7:11
Has this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your eyes? Behold, I myself have seen it, declares the Lord.
This is my first attempt at using a new study idea based on a book — Old Made New[a]. It’s a how-to book with a different premise; to let the New Testament read the Old Testament to me thru its citations. I’m going to use the Scripture references in the book for my post each Wednesday and pay attention to those citations. What is it about them that mattered to Jesus and may change my mind about what I read? Here we go…Week 1.
The Book of Jeremiah was written between 630 and 580 B.C. and Isaiah was written sometime during the ministry of Isaiah (approximately 740–701 B.C.). I can’t be the only one who’s forgotten the antiquity timeline is a countdown. So…Isaiah wrote first, then Jeremiah. Their words show the progression of their choice to neglect those old words. Luke is reminding his readers that Jesus saw their choice and grieved over the loss of God’s purpose for the purity of His house of prayer.
Jesus had paused to look over the city as he neared Jerusalem and was moved to tears over the “things that make for peace” that are no longer visible there. They no longer had any claim to innocence. The passage of time showed the result of neglect to those old Words. Jeremiah had to pass along God’s harsh observation about His house looking like a den of robbers. I don’t know how to explain why Jesus chose such uncharacteristic behavior in the Temple. Maybe it was anger, frustration, judgment and grief all combined at their willing acceptance of what had been lost. Did they even notice the decline?
I’ve noticed something because of following those citations in this passage. My emphasis changed as I read from wondering about Jesus’s unexplainable behavior to thinking about mine. It’s a choice to pay attention to old Words like Isaiah’s promise of acceptance and Jeremiah’s warning about neglect. It’s become a reality check about not neglecting old Words. Romans 8:12 says we do have an “obligation.” Our obligation to the “house that is called by [God’s] name is not our innocence, Adam took care of that. It’s our choice! Jesus is calling us to choose purity and He’s given us a completely different how-to Book filled with everything that can make that a reality in our life.
[a] Old Made New
This “cliff note” idea is not meant to be a definitive commentary of these verses. What I see now is just that — what I see now, I spend each day between posts reading and re-reading the current verses. I’m concentrating on looking for what catches my interest enough to make me ask “is this the truth I believe?” My confidence is in one important thing; the Spirit of God is at work. He’s the door opener. AND I want to get it right. When I “ink” what I think I know, in plain sight for you to read, it’s a risk of obedience. I know the Spirit’s work is to teach AND correct. That’s not an either/or it’s an AND.
Today’s notes are about the Shepherd, the Gatekeeper, the Father and the sheep that recognize them. The Gatekeeper is the guard, the Shepherd manages the sheep and His charge from the Father is to find the “sheep that are not of this fold…so there will be one flock, one Shepherd.” That’s spot on! However, I wondered why I’d ignored the last three verses of this chosen passage and realized I didn’t want them to mess up all that lovely truth-teaching with the hard fact of division and doubt. That’s when the “teach AND correct” kicked in. Sometimes it’s the ugly Words that remind me how much I need the Shepherd, the Gatekeeper and the Father to open my own eyes so I can recognize division is the thief and robber who will never “open the eyes of the blind.”
Isaiah wrote about restoring the sight of the blind as part of the Messiah’s ability…And the Lord said:
— Isaiah 29:18 In that day the deaf will hear words read from a book,
and the blind will see through the gloom and darkness.
— 35:5 And when he comes, he will open the eyes of the blind and unplug the ears of the deaf.
— 42:7 You will open the eyes of the blind. You will free the captives from prison, releasing those who sit in dark dungeons.
Jesus speaks to his disciples in a third party-like conversation about the cause of blindness and Him being the Light of the world. That’s a Messianic claim! Then He physically takes direct action by coating over the man’s eyes with clay he’s just made. The mixing of the mud is evidence of “violation” of working on the Sabbath! He never tells the blind man his sight is going to miraculously be restored. The blind man must choose to risk responding to Jesus and go to the pool to wash. That’s a step of faith!
The sticking point for the Pharisees was complicated. Twice Jesus had confronted the Pharisees hypocrisy [John 7:23 and Matthew 12:5]. Jewish rules had legitimate provisions for violating the Sabbath in specific cases like circumcision in order to obey Mosaic law, temple service or the birth of a baby. Isaiah’s words, a broken rule, the eyes of a blind man being opened and an itinerant rabbi who claimed to be the Light of the world became their sticking point. Isaiah’s words were a trusted part of the Pharisees Messianic history and according to their own rules denying a miracle of God was unbelief. The evidence of acknowledging this miracle might prove Jesus to be the Lord Isaiah wrote about. That didn’t mesh with what they’d carefully mapped out for the coming Messiah. They couldn’t risk choosing to take that next step of faith.
Where’s the joy I can count on when I’m at my most vulnerable? How in the world do “trials of various kinds” produce steadfastness? Sometimes the meaning of a specific word becomes the catalyst of my heart when I’m unsure about where the Spirit is leading my thoughts. Today that word is “steadfastness.”
My thoughts began with steadfastness being about my strength and my survival. I know everything is not supposed to be about me but honestly we’re talking about “my” trials and “my” joy. I know that is surely a vulnerable beginning to count on so I had to ponder…what is steadfastness?
— stead: the place a substitute fills
— fastness: being fixed and able to maintain it’s color without fading
I have some experience hand-dyeing fiber that has helped me understand how important the preparation of sheep’s wool is to color “fastness.” I have much more experience with Jesus as my substitute. The delight of my heart is finding new meanings of old words to help me understand that preparation beforehand is what explains the relationship between various trials that produce steadfastness and joy.
Joy is more than just the result of having endured the “testing.” I can “count it all joy” because long before any of those various trials became a reality I prepared my heart to trust that Jesus is there in my “stead” when I’m most vulnerable, being fixed and able to maintain the “fastness” of my faith without fading. Amen!
1 As Jesus passed by,
2 his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned?
3 Jesus answered “It was that the works of God
might be displayed in him.
4 night is coming,
5 I am the light of the world.”
The condition of the human mind is to connect sin to behavior. That’s a much narrower view than connecting sin to darkness. Jesus wants the disciples to recognize just how vast and real that difference is. Opening this one man’s eyes is going to display Jesus as God’s connection that can overcome the pervasive darkness of sin with Light for those who dare to risk obedience to gain sight.
This is a mysterious truth about God choosing to advance His Gospel through the least likely of circumstances. What evidence do we have that supports Paul’s truth that what had happened to him had “really served to advance the gospel?” We have his many writings including four epistles: Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon written while imprisoned! God had given Paul a unique history that preceded him to Rome. He’d appeared and defended Jesus before so many powerful Roman leaders that he’d gained some notoriety. “The whole imperial guard and all the rest” clearly knew his “imprisonment is for Christ.” Paul had become a celebrity “criminal.” He was allowed to have visitors and two-way communication about his many ministries. It’s likely he was chained to his guards and they became his very personal in-prison ministry. People who would never have heard the truth of Christ in any other way became the captive audience of an “ambassador in chains” given one of the most mysterious opportunities for the Word to create new believers and inspire “brothers” to be “more bold to speak [the Gospel] without fear.”
— Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart…” Jeremiah 1:5
— You formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. Psalm 139:13
— We are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10
— God’s workmanship in me began long before a specific egg and sperm met one another
— God began to justify His choice in my mother’s womb before my first breath
— That first breath began my sanctification even before my first cognitive thought
— God has created me in the likeness of His perfection to insure I could be of value and succeed at what He’s prepared beforehand
— My whole imperfect and incomplete way of life is the inspired field of operation He’s chosen to accomplish His good works
— In him we live and move and have our being…for we are indeed his offspring Acts 17:28
Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just,
whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable,
if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise,
think about these things. Philippians 4:8
In: enclosed or surrounded by
Love: strong affection arising out of kinship or personal ties
Manifest: clear or obvious to the eye or mind.
World: the earth with its inhabitants and all things upon it.
Live: to exist
Through: able to move from one side to the other
Him: I=Jesus, Ch=Christ, Th=Theou (God’s), U=Uios (Son), S=Souter (Savior) ICHTHUS
Enclosed or surrounded by the strong affection of God, arising out of kinship or personal ties with Him, it becomes clear or obvious to the eye or mind that God sent Jesus to the earth with its inhabitants and all things upon it so we might exist knowing we are able to move from one side to the other of eternity because of Him.
What an invitation…Jesus knocking AND apparently speaking…offering to enter and share the most basic part of life with us, on a regular basis. It’s a glorious and familiar invitation. But there are another eight verses that surround this verse that make you realize there’s more to consider here. Jesus is speaking to His church, His people of faith, the very people who’ve already heard His voice! Jesus has told us in John 14 about our place in His house of many rooms. Don’t all those rooms have doors too? That’s the “Revelation!” Jesus wants so much more for our life than a one-and-done moment. He wants full permission to access every room.a He wants an ongoing and on-growing relationship. He wants us to open every door to Him; our will, our self-sufficiency, our ears and our heart.
a My Heart Christ’s Home