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Saturday, April 17, 2010

+ EASTER + F O U R + A.D. 2010

Lexegete ™ | Year C | St. Luke

Fourth Sunday of Easter
April 25, 2010
Acts 9:36-43
Psalm 23 (1)
Revelation 7:9-17
John 10:22-30

Prayer of the Day

O God of peace, you brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus Christ, the great shepherd of the sheep. By the blood of your eternal covenant, make us complete in everything good that we may do your will, and work among us all that is well-pleasing in your sight, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Gospel Acclamation

Alleluia. Jesus says, I am | the good shepherd.
I know my own and my | own know me. Alleluia. (John 10:14)

1a. CONTEXT: JOHN 10:22-30

The context for this pericope is threefold. First,

John has Jesus in the city of Jerusalem, and this is not

for a brief visit because there is a significant amount of

time between the events described. Second, the cause for

being in Jerusalem is a Jewish Holy Day. Third, this

pericope is a subpoint in the story of Jesus as the Good

Shepherd. In very picturesque language, John describes

Jesus walking in the temple, during the time of the Feast

of Dedication (Chanukah) in the month of December

(Chislev). This story is in a section that follows a

major section on the feast of tabernacles and takes place

in the temple at yet another feast. The Feast of

Dedication is literally a time of renewal, when the temple

was dedicated after the desecration of the temple by

Antiochus Epiphanies, and the heroic efforts of Judas

Maccabaeus. It also follows the dramatic declaration of

Jesus that He is the Good Shepherd, and a statement that

among the Jews there was dispute about Jesus. On the one

hand, some were saying that he was demon possessed;

while on the other hand, there was speculation that

perhaps he really was the Messiah.

This pericope raises the issue with forthrightness:

"Are you the Christ?" Jesus' manner of response calls

upon the hearer's previous acquaintance with Jesus, and

his/her inclusion among those who know, i.e. the flock of

the Good Shepherd. This raises the questions: What are

the qualifications of the Messiah? What does it take to

know the Messiah?

The context of this story presumes a significant amount of

knowledge of Jesus' story and history, both for the person

in the story and for the reader in the twentieth century.

1b. TEXT: John 10: 22-30


I and the Father Are One
22 At that time the Feast of Dedication took place at Jerusalem. It was winter, 23 and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the colonnade of Solomon. 24 So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.” 25 Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father's name bear witness about me, 26 but you do not believe because you are not part of my flock. 27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, [1] is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. 30 I and the Father are one.”
[1] 10:29 Some manuscripts: What my Father has given to me


22Ἐγένετο τότε τὰ ἐγκαίνια ἐν τοῖς Ἱεροσολύμοις: χειμὼν ἦν, 23καὶ περιεπάτει ὁ Ἰησοῦς ἐν τῷ ἱερῷ ἐν τῇ στοᾷ τοῦ Σολομῶνος. 24ἐκύκλωσαν οὖν αὐτὸν οἱ Ἰουδαῖοι καὶ ἔλεγον αὐτῷ, Εως πότε τὴν ψυχὴν ἡμῶν αἴρεις; εἰ σὺ εἶ ὁ Χριστός, εἰπὲ ἡμῖν παρρησίᾳ. 25ἀπεκρίθη αὐτοῖς ὁ Ἰησοῦς, Εἶπον ὑμῖν καὶ οὐ πιστεύετε: τὰ ἔργα ἃ ἐγὼ ποιῶ ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι τοῦ πατρός μου ταῦτα μαρτυρεῖ περὶ ἐμοῦ: 26ἀλλὰ ὑμεῖς οὐ πιστεύετε, ὅτι οὐκ ἐστὲ ἐκ τῶν προβάτων τῶν ἐμῶν. 27τὰ πρόβατα τὰ ἐμὰ τῆς φωνῆς μου ἀκούουσιν, κἀγὼ γινώσκω αὐτά, καὶ ἀκολουθοῦσίν μοι, 28κἀγὼ δίδωμι αὐτοῖς ζωὴν αἰώνιον, καὶ οὐ μὴ ἀπόλωνται εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα, καὶ οὐχ ἁρπάσει τις αὐτὰ ἐκ τῆς χειρός μου. 29ὁ πατήρ μου ὃ δέδωκέν μοι πάντων μεῖζόν ἐστιν, καὶ οὐδεὶς δύναται ἁρπάζειν ἐκ τῆς χειρὸς τοῦ πατρός. 30ἐγὼ καὶ ὁ πατὴρ ἕν ἐσμεν.

Novum Testamentum Graece, Nestle-Aland 26th edition
© 1979, Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, Stuttgart;
The Greek New Testament, 3rd edition=
© 1975, United Bible Societies, London

2. ANALYSIS: John 10: 22-30

v. 22 John, Chapter 5 begins a series of events

centered around feasts, and concludes with Jesus at the

Feast of Dedication in Chapter 10. The feasts are the

Sabbath, Passover, Tabernacles, and Dedication.

Dedication is the literal translation of the Greek work

[egkainia] which means renewal, which is a translation of

the Hebrew [Hanukkah]. Dedication is the renewal of

temple worship after the desecration. Could it be that

John uses this setting as a monumental statement of the

"new Temple" which is Christ?

v. 23 The reference to Solomon's portico adds some

local color to the description. Specifically, it is the

one on the east side of the temple, which was the oldest

and associated with Solomon. The portico is a cloister

around the outside of the temple, closed on the outside

and open to the temple courtyard. Technically, it is

outside the temple proper. Some believe that Jesus was

walking there as he sought protection from the cold

weather. The mention of winter may also be a subtle

commentary about the "cold" reception of the Jews toward


v. 24 The phrase "keep us in suspense" translates

the Greek phrase: "take away our [psyche] (breath of

life)." It probably would be dangerous to overstress this

idiom, but there still is the possibility that just as

Jesus lays down his life for the sheep, those who are not

of the fold find that life is withheld from them. The

major emphasis in this unit of scripture is the question

of Jesus' identity. "If you are the Christ, tell us

plainly." The evangelist carefully chooses his word:

Christ--instead of anointed one, or messiah. This is the

Christian designation, and John makes his point from a

Christian perspective.

v. 25 Jesus' response is characteristically

indirect. Or is it? For him the question is one of

belief. The persons who do not believe can never "see" or

"know" the Christ, whether he is revealed as the Good

Shepherd, or the Light of the World, or a compassionate

healer. The end of this verse brings in the objective

witness: the works of Jesus, done in the Father's name.

This is reminiscent of the accepted form of credibility in

bringing witnesses, but it also shifts the authority from

Jesus to the Father.

v. 26 This verse raises a very significant question:

Which comes first--belief or belonging? The Jews to whom

Jesus addresss this remark do not know him as the Christ,

because they do not believe, because they are not of his

sheep. This raises the issue of choosing God, or being

chosen by Him.

vv. 27-28 These verses describe an intimacy of

relationship between Jesus and his followers. Jesus uses

the imagery of the relationship between sheep and

shepherd to describe the relationship, the dependency

of the sheep for life, and the security of the sheep. The

intimacy of relationship between the Shepherd and the

sheep portrays a depiction of the eternal relationship

which Jesus offers.

vv. 29-30 These verses also describe a relationship;

but this relationship is the intimate relationship between

Jesus and the Father, and the subsequent benefits to

Jesus' sheep because of that relationship. There is a

hint of Hebrew parallelism in the thought patterns between

27-28 and 29-30. After walking all around Solomon's porch

in His response to the question of His identity, vs. 30 is

about as direct as Jesus can be.

3. STRATEGY: John 10: 22-30

By the fourth Sunday of Easter, the proclamation of

the Resurrection has made its impact, and it would be

appropriate to look at this text from the perspective of

implications for living in the power of the resurrection.

Several strategies are possible.

One interesting possibility would be to do a

comparison of the desecration of the temple with the

desecration of humankind by sin, and the subsequent

renewal and dedication of the temple with the resurrection

of the Son of God who gives eternal life and security to

His flock.

Another possibility would be to link together several

different moves (in the manner of Buttrick's HOMILETIC)

that approach the identity of Jesus from different

stances. For example, one "move" would be from the

perspective of the Jews who gathered around him on

Solomon's porch; a second "move" would be from the second

group of Jews who had become followers; and a third

"move" would be from the perspective of Jesus himself,

in a first person delivery.

This text presumes some previous knowledge of the

Gospel on the part of the hearer, yet it may provide a

real challenge to those who really don't believe. A

possible creative way to rehearse this text would be to

allow the hearer to "listen in" on a conversation between

Jesus and the Father, using the information in this text

as the parameter of the discussion.

The First Lesson, from Paul's exhortation in Acts 13,

deals with the challenge to believe, as does this passage.

The Revelation text from the Second Lesson supports the

benefits of the intimate relationship which the followers

of Jesus enjoy; that is also presented in this Gospel


Somehow, this text calls for the preacher to deal with

the matter of Jesus' identity as the Christ. Just as the

Feast of Dedication is one of a series of temple feasts,

so the identity issue is seen in this context as

one of several events in the life of Jesus: at His

Baptism, at the Transfiguration, and other places where

the words from Psalm 2 are quoted as in the sermon of Paul

in the Acts text.

4. REFERENCES: John 10:22-30

Beasley-Murray, George R. JOHN. Word Biblical
Commentary, Vol. 36, Waco, Texas: Word Books, 1987.

(i-xii), The Anchor Bible, Garden
City, NY: Doubleday and Co., 1966.

Buttrick, David. HOMILETIC: Moves and Structures.
Philadelphia: Fortess, 1987.

Haenchen, Ernst. A Commentary on the Gospel of John
Chapters 7-21. HERMENEIA, John 2. Philadelphia: Fortress
Press, 1984.

5. WORSHIP SUGGESTIONS: John 10: 22-30

There are lots of traditional shepherd songs based on

the 23rd Psalm. All of these could be used, but it might

be wiser to select hymns that reflect the identity of


"In a Lowly Manger Born" (ELW 718, LBW 417) gives an

interesting dimension to the identity of Christ.

"The Son of God, Our Christ" (LBW 434, ELW 584) is a

twentieth century hymn with some very powerful words

describing the Christ.

If you are going to use the shepherd theme, then have

your children and congregation learn to sing "Have No

Fear, Little Flock" ( ELW 764, LBW 476).

Three possibilities for some creative worship dimensions

are these: have someone who raises sheep bring them to

graze on the church lawn on Sunday morning; or if

you have a cloister or porch, take the children to the

porch, and wearing a transmitter microphone, allow the

congregation to listen to your discussion with the

children about Jesus' relationship with the Father. A new

approach to a sermon might include someone like the

character who has been developed in my parish over the

years. He is "The Shepherd"--he was the youngest

shepherd on the Hillside outside of Bethlehem, to whom

the Angels announced the Birth of Jesus. He was

interviewed by a man called Luke who was writing down

the life of Jesus.

He talked about the "hoped-for" king of Israel,

described by Ezekiel, who would be like a shepherd. In

this context, "the Shepherd" could have been attending the

Feast of Dedication at the temple, perhaps delivering some

animals for the sacrifice at the rededication, or be

simply one of the crowd who saw and heard the exchange

between Jesus and the Jews in Solomon's porch. Surely the

Shepherd could describe the intimacy of relationship

between shepherd and sheep, and the benefits to the sheep

from their owner. Likewise, the shepherd could describe

the inability of those who were not of the fold to

understand the care and directions of the shepherd in

whom they did not believe.

Exegete: Rev. Dr. Dale I. Gregoriew is a Pastor in theEvangelical Lutheran Church in America (RT), living in Fairview Texas, near Dallas.

Mark, Evangelist
April 26, 2010 (transferred from April 25)
Isaiah 52:7-10
Psalm 57 (9)
2 Timothy 4:6-11, 18
Mark 1:1-15

Prayer of the Day

Almighty God, you have enriched your church with Mark's proclamation of the gospel. Give us grace to believe firmly in the good news of salvation and to walk daily in accord with it, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Gospel Acclamation

Alleluia. This Jesus | God raised up;
and of that all of | us are witnesses. Alleluia. (Acts 2:32)

Philip and James, Apostles
May 1, 2010
Isaiah 30:18-21
Psalm 44:1-3, 20-26 (26)
2 Corinthians 4:1-6
John 14:8-14

Prayer of the Day

Almighty God, you gave to your apostles Philip and James grace and strength to bear witness to your Son. Grant that we, remembering their victory of faith, may glorify in life and death the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Gospel Acclamation

Alleluia. You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea | and Samaria, and to the ends | of the earth. Alleluia. (Acts 1:8)


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