“At that time the festival of the Dedication took place in Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the portico of Solomon. So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.” (John 10:22-24)
The request seems simple enough – Jesus was being asked to state in plain and simple terms whether or not he was the promised Messiah. But the difficulty in making this simple statement is two-folded. First, he was not the type of Messiah that they expected. Second, this is the gospel of John where few things are plainly and simply stated.
“Jesus answered, “I have told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name testify to me; but you do not believe, because you do not belong to my sheep. My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand. What my Father has given me is greater than all else, and no one can snatch it out of the Father’s hand. The Father and I are one.” (Verses 25 – 30)
In other words, if you have to ask you will not understand the answer or the rationale behind it. The evidence was before them in the miracles that Jesus did. But they (these Jews that asked Jesus) did not believe in the miracles (we are to assume) and therefore because they did not see the miracles as miracles, they would not believe Jesus as the Messiah. But those who saw Jesus for who he is belong to him, and in belonging they see clearly; and have been given eternal life in Jesus by God. And, by the way Jesus says, God and I are one.
Written by another person, even Paul for pity’s sake, this might be a simpler declaration. But in the hands and words of the writer of the gospel of John, it takes some mapping and diagramming to figure out. Of course, maybe not for you beloved reader; and I follow it also. But to the “Jews” it was confusing.
Do you realize how great an inheritance we have in being able to follow and understand such theological and Christological discourse? I may at times explain and delineate passages and theological understandings at length, but that is because I want to make sure I am talking about spiritual matters clearly and plainly. But I do assume, beloved reader, that your understanding is swift and complete. And I also assume you are part of Jesus’ “flock.” And as such are heirs to eternal life through Jesus who is God. Selah!