Lexegete ™ | Year C | St. Luke
Fourth Sunday of Easter
April 25, 2010
Psalm 23 (1)
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.
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,  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.”
 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
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
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.
Brown, Raymond. SS THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN
(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
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.
April 26, 2010 (transferred from April 25)
Psalm 57 (9)
2 Timothy 4:6-11, 18
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.
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
Psalm 44:1-3, 20-26 (26)
2 Corinthians 4:1-6
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.
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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