The Gospel lesson for this week is John 10:22-30:
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.”
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.”
Here are some things I learned about this passage: The Feast of Dedication is "Hanukkah" - a feast celebrating the fact that, for once, the Jews had defeated an enemy and gotten the Temple back.
Solomon's porch, where this takes place, is the sunniest, warmest spot on the temple grounds during December.
Jesus makes several points that should provoke some thought:
For instance, he says that what He does shows who He is. What we do shows who we are, too. One commentary I read had a funny story about the encounter between an old Amish man and a door-to-door evangelist. The eager evangelist greeted the old man and asked if he had been saved. "Are you a born again Christian?" he quizzed. "Why are you asking me?" answered the old man. "Here are the names of my barber, my hired man, my wife, banker. Go ask them if I am a Christian."
If I were preaching this, which I'm not, I'd go with the defiant "No one will snatch them out of my hand" as my text. No matter what. We are held in Jesus' hand.