Interpretation 10

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  Copyright © 2001 Jeanie C. Crain
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    Since chapter 10 in John marks almost the midpoint in the book, it invites the reader to review briefly the arguments of the first half and anticipate the direction of the second half. I have argued that  John emphatically proclaims the  the Kingdom of God as a  present world reality; he presents the full impact of Jesus’ new and universalized Kingdom of God.  I have also stated that  the book of John is consciously structured to pronounce upon this meaning. John presents the following points:  that Christ is God in action, that Jesus was in the beginning (at creation) with God, that Jesus embodies God's kingdom and a new Judaism, that becoming children of God iinvolves a spiritual process, that justice and grace run concurrently through history with full truth realized in Jesus, that John the Baptist serves as precursor to Jesus, that John's testimony points to Jesus as "Word become flesh" taking up residence among humankind, that the followers of Jesus testify to his being the prophesied messiah, although not the political messiah expected, and finally that Jesus completes the redemptive work of God universally. Jesus, clearly identified in John 1, performs his first sign in chapter two, changing water into wine, symbolically revealing that the body of this new wine makes all past wines (Eden, Moses, the law) inferior. David's temple, likewise, provides no match for the temple God prefers; one will recall that David's being informed that God had never, since the beginning of time, lived in or needed a house. By chapter four, at Jacob's well Jesus brings together the old and new, embodied in the metaphor of living water that eternally quenches thirst. Emphasizing the universal outreach of God's kingdom, Jesus addresses a woman first, and second, a woman who is Samaritan. In this chapter, too, Jesus performs a second sign  more marvelous than wine: the transformation of death into life in the official's son, itself a symbol of the transformation achieved in the believing heart. This  second sign presents  the uncontested Christ! Chapter four of John ends with urgency for laborers entering into the work of achieving the Kingdom of God while chapter five begins with a controversy about working on the Sabbath. John rules out any passive understanding of God’s spiritual work as ever resting.  The only rest, in fact, to be achieved is the rest provided in the Kingdom. In John six, Jesus walks among the multitudes giving life and sustaining life. Chapter  seven of John reveals the identity of Jesus amid controversy about who he is, and the timing and metaphor both reinforce the meaning of this revelation for this people, and, indeed, all people. In chapter eight, previously  revealed as the bread of life and living water, Jesus shines forth as the light of the world. The debate, though, continues about Jesus' identity and  the role of law. The woman caught in adultery in chapter eight finds compassion and forgiveness in Jesus, illustrating the significant difference between condemning law and forgiving grace. In chapter nine, on the literal level, the reader encounters a man blind from birth; on a symbolic level, Jesus addresses spiritual blindness and reveals that those who claim to see (know) really are the spiritually blind. Reading symbolically, the reader quickly realizes that physical blindness describes the condition of humankind apart from divine intervention. Chapter ten reveals Jesus the shepherd-king s rejected.

    Chapter ten of John easily divides into two sections: Jesus identified as the Good Shepherd and Jesus the Good Shepherd rejected. Chapter ten  in John picks up the shepherd-king motif found in both Isaiah and in Micah:       

40:11 Like a shepherd he tends his flock;

     he gathers up the lambs with his arm;

     he carries them close to his chest;

     he leads the ewes along. (Isaiah)

 

     5:2 (5:1) As for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,6

     seemingly insignificant7 among the clans of Judah--

     from you a king will emerge who will rule over Israel on my behalf,8

     one whose origins9 are in the distant past.10

     5:3 So the LORD11 will hand the people of Israel12 over to their enemies13

     until the time when the woman in labor14 gives birth.15

     Then the rest of the king's16 brothers will return

     to be reunited with the people of Israel.17

     5:4 He will assume his position18 and shepherd the people19 by the LORD's   strength,

     by the sovereign authority of the LORD his God.20

     They will live in peace,21 for at that time he will be honored22

     even in the distant regions of23 the earth.

     5:5 He will give us peace.24 (Micah)

John emphatically describes Jesus in the tradition of prophecy well known to his people:

1 "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber; 2 but he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 To him the gatekeeper opens; the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. 5 A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers." 6 This figure Jesus used with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them. 7 So Jesus again said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. 8 All who came before me are thieves and robbers; but the sheep did not heed them.

9 I am the door; if any one enters by me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.

10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. 11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 He who is a hireling and not a shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. 13 He flees because he is a hireling and cares nothing for the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd; I know my own and my own know me, 15 as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 And I have other sheep, that are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will heed my voice. So there shall be one flock, one shepherd. 17 For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life, that I may take it again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again; this charge I have received from my Father."

The Messianic overtones of this passage cannot be missed; consider Jeremiah 23:

23:1 The LORD says,1 "The leaders of my people are sure to be judged.2 They were supposed to watch over my people like shepherds watch over their sheep. But they are causing my people to be destroyed and scattered.3 23:2 So the LORD God of Israel has this to say about the leaders who are ruling over his people: "You have caused my people4 to be dispersed and driven into exile. You have not taken

care of them. So I will punish you for the evil that you have done.5 I, the LORD, affirm it.6 23:3 Then I myself will regather those of my people7 who are still left alive from all the countries where I have driven them. I will bring them back to their homeland.8 They will greatly increase in number. 23:4 I will install rulers9 over them who will care for them. Then they will no longer need to fear or be terrified. None of

them will turn up missing.10 I, the LORD, promise it.11

 

     23:5 "I, the LORD, promise12 that a new time will certainly come13 when I will raise up for them a righteous descendant14 of David. He will rule over them with wisdom and understanding15 and will do what is just and right in the land.16 23:6 Under his rule17 Judah will enjoy safety18 and Israel will live in security.19 This is the name he will go by: `The LORD has provided us with justice.'20

 

The Intervarsity Commentary provides the following summary of messianic prophecy:

Jesus has used divine language when speaking of himself (8:58) and backed it up with a healing unheard of since the world began (9:32), thereby revealing himself as the agent of creation. By referring to himself as the shepherd of the flock he is appropriating further divine language. In the Old Testament, the leaders of the people are called shepherds, especially Moses (Ps 77:20) and David (Ps 78:70-72; Ezek 34:23). But God is the shepherd par excellence (for example, Ps 80:1; cf. Jeremias 1968:488-89; Barrett 1978:373-74). Jeremiah and Ezekiel in particular develop the shepherd motif to express how God cares for his people and his condemnation of false and evil rulers. God will condemn the false shepherds (Jer 23:1-2; Ezek 34:1-10) and appoint faithful shepherds to tend his flock after the manner of his own heart (Jer 3:15; 23:4). Indeed, the coming Davidic Messiah will be God's shepherd for his flock (Ezek 34:23-24), a prophecy given in the context of God's announcement that he himself will come to shepherd his flock. He will search for his scattered flock, gather them from the nations and lead them to good pasture on the mountains of Israel. He will tend to the weak and injured but will judge those sheep who only look after themselves and harm the others (Ezek 34:11-22).

Jesus speaks in parable and tells his listeners plainly that he is doing so: 

14sn A parable is a fairly short narrative that has symbolic meaning. The Greek word paroimivan (paroimian) is used again in 16:25, 29. This term does not occur in the synoptic gospels, where parabolhv (parabolh) is used. Nevertheless it is similar, denoting a short narrative with figurative or symbolic meaning.

http://www.bible.org/netbible/

The parable richly pictures details of simple life in Jesus' time. We glean from the Intervarsity Commentary the important facts--that the scene comes from everyday life, that sheep are commonly owned, that they stay at night in the courtyard, that families choose a shepherd for combined flocks, that the shepherd gathers the sheep and returns them to the individual families, who recognize their own animals:

Jesus begins with a scene from everyday life, though the exact nature of this scene is uncertain. Kenneth Bailey (1993) suggests the background is from village life where each family owns a couple of sheep for personal use. The animals stay at night in the courtyard of the family's house (aule, paraphrased in the NIV as sheep pen, v. 1). Families on a given street agree as to who will shepherd their combined flock, often designating one or more of the children. In the morning this shepherd goes down the street to gather the sheep. The person at the door recognizes the shepherd and opens the door for the sheep to pass through. The shepherd has a distinct call or whistle, sometimes using a small flute, which the sheep recognize and follow. When several flocks end up at a watering place at the same time and mingle together, they are easily separated again by the shepherd, who gives his call as he starts to walk away. In addition to their own distinctive call, some shepherds also give their sheep names (Bailey 1993:10; cf. Beasley-Murray 1987:168).

This interpretation assumes there is a single flock composed of the sheep from several families that have been gathered from the courtyards of the various houses. However, the presence of a watchman (v. 3; literally, "doorkeeper," thyroros) seems unlikely in the home of a village family, and later in Jesus' application he speaks of a single courtyard (v. 16). So instead of several courtyards and a single flock, the picture seems to be of a larger courtyard or enclosure (possibly a sheep pen as the NIV suggests) in which the sheep of several flocks are kept. In the morning a shepherd comes to collect the sheep of his flock and is able to do so in the way Bailey describes.

Jesus contrasts those who enter through the gate and those who do not (vv. 1-2). The one who has legitimate business and authorization enters in the proper fashion, while those without authorization use underhanded means. These thieves and robbers do not have in mind the good of the sheep but rather selfish ends of their own. The shepherd is recognized by the one who guards the fold, and so his entrance is natural, out in the open, without forcing. Such has been Jesus' entrance into this world and amongst his own people. He has come in the appropriate manner, having been sent by the Father, in contrast to the Jewish leaders who are rejecting Jesus.

The Net Bible agrees with the above understanding of the sheepfold as being a courtyard:s

2sn There was more than one type of sheepfold in use in Palestine in Jesus’ day. The one here seems to be a courtyard in front of a house (the Greek word used for the sheepfold here, aujlhv [aulh] frequently refers to a courtyard), surrounded by a stone wall (often topped with briars for protection).

8sn He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. Some interpreters have suggested that there was more than one flock in the fold, and there would be a process of separation where each shepherd called out his own flock. This may also be suggested by the mention of a doorkeeper in v. 3 since only the larger sheepfolds would have such a guard. But the Gospel of John never mentions a distinction among the sheep in this fold; in fact there are other sheep which are to be brought in, but they are to be one flock and one shepherd.

The Oxford Annotated Bible concludes that this parable has both messianic and simple life overtones:

10.1–42: Jesus, the shepherd who gives his life. 1–6: The details are strikingly true to life. 3: The gatekeeper is apparently someone paid by a number of shepherds to guard their sheep in one fold, since Jesus refers to several shepherds by inference (John 10.16) and repeats his own sheep several times (John 10.3; John 10.4; John 10.12; John 10.14). 7: Christ is the gate into God’s fold. 8: Refers to Messianic pretenders. 9: Christ provides (a) escape from the perils of sin, (b) freedom, and (c) spiritual sustenance (the bread, water, and light of life, John 6–9). 10: Life, see John 3.13–15 n. Abundantly, beyond measure (Psalm 23.5).

10.11: Jesus fulfills Old Testament promises that God himself will come to shepherd his people (Isaiah 40.11; Jeremiah 23.1–6; Ezekiel 34, esp. Ezekiel 34.11). 16: Other sheep, Gentiles. One flock, Ephesians 2.11–22.

Matthew Henry in his commentary provides a similar account of the parable or similitude:

1. In the parable we have, (1.) The evidence of a thief and robber, that comes to do mischief to the flock, and damage to the owner, v. 1. He enters not by the door, as having no lawful cause of entry, but climbs up some other way, at a window, or some breach in the wall. How industrious are wicked people to do mischief! What plots will they lay, what pains will they take, what hazards will they run, in their wicked pursuits! This should shame us out of our slothfulness and cowardice in the service of God. (2.) The character that distinguishes the rightful owner, who has a property in the sheep, and a care for them: He enters in by the door, as one having authority (v. 2), and he comes to do them some good office or other, to bind up that which is broken, and strengthen that which is sick, Eze. 34:16. Sheep need man’s care, and, in return for it, are serviceable to man (1 Co. 9:7); they clothe and feed those by whom they are coted and fed. (3.) The ready entrance that the shepherd finds: To him the porter openeth, v. 3. Anciently they had their sheepfolds within the outer gates of their houses, for the greater safety of their flocks, so that none could come to them the right way, but such as the porter opened to or the master of the house gave the keys to. (4.) The care he takes and the provision he makes for his sheep. The sheep hear his voice, when he speaks familiarly to them, when they come into the fold, as men now do to their dogs and horses; and, which is more, he calls his own sheep by name, so exact is the notice he takes of them, the account he keeps of them; and he leads them our from the fold to the green pastures; and (v. 4, 5) when he turns them out to graze he does not drive them, but (such was the custom in those times) he goes before them, to prevent any mischief or danger that might meet them, and they, being used to it, follow him, and are safe. (5.) The strange attendance of the sheep upon the shepherd: They know his voice, so as to discern his mind by it, and to distinguish it from that of a stranger (for the ox knows his owner, Isa. 1:3), and a stranger will they not follow, but, as suspecting some ill design, will flee from him, not knowing his voice, but that it is not the voice of their own shepherd. This is the parable; we have the key to it, Eze. 34:31: You my flock are men, and I am your God.

The religious, who think of themselves as guardians of the sheep, reject the Good Shepherd:

19 Again the Jews were divided because of these words. 20 Many of them were saying, "He has a demon and is out of his mind. Why listen to him?" 21 Others were saying, "These are not the words of one who has a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?"

Just as previously, consistently, in John, people beholding the works of Jesus are sharply divided: “The Jews were divided because of these words.”  Which words?  “I lay down my life in order to take it up again.  No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord.  I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again.  I have received this command from my Father” (17-18). What is the great offense?  Jesus is doing the work that is his mission—and the mission that originally Israel is called to do.  Jesus is the ideal Israel. What in the mission of Jesus is particularly offensive? 

14 I am the good shepherd; I know my own and my own know me,

15 as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.

16 And I have other sheep, that are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will heed my voice. So there shall be one flock, one shepherd.

“I have sheep that are not of this fold” certainly escapes any smug exclusivity arising simply from having come from the lineage of Abraham. The Net Bible also points out exactly this interpretation.

(10:16) The statement I have other sheep that do not come from this sheepfold almost certainly refers to Gentiles. Jesus has sheep in

the fold who are Jewish; there are other sheep which, while not of the same fold, belong to him also. This recalls the mission of the Son in

3:16-17, which was to save the world--not just the nation of Israel. Such an emphasis would be particularly appropriate to the author if he

were writing to a non-Palestinian and primarily non-Jewish audience.

The reader should note, however, that when the people misunderstand the parable in verse six, Jesus speaks explicitly by telling them in verse eleven, ""I am the good shepherd. " The metaphor then shifts from the courtyard to the field: 

. 14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. 

As always with John, the chapter hooks back into earlier argument. The reader notes that, indeed, verse twenty-one connects the Good Shepherd parable back to the healing of the blind man in chapter nine. The Intervarsity Commentary  notes this connection and concludes:

Jesus now puts the events of chapter 9 into perspective by contrasting himself, the Good Shepherd, with the Pharisees, whom he identifies with the evil shepherds of Ezekiel 34. "The `Pharisees' have expelled from God's flock the man whom Christ Himself enlightened. They are scattering the sheep whom Christ came to gather" (Dodd 1953:359). In this way, Jesus' estrangement from official Judaism is further developed as he calls into being a people who follow him rather than the leaders of Israel.

  http://bible.gospelcom.net/

The emphasis upon Jesus' estrangement from official Judaism leads too frequently to a new exclusivity of one religion to another when, in fact, Jesus insists in verse sixteen that "there will be one flock, one shepherd." I certainly agree that God himself has become the guardian of the sheep:

In these passages God shepherds through his designated leaders. Jesus is claiming such a role for himself, but in a way unlike anything seen before. He has made clear claims to divinity and messiahship, which will be repeated shortly (Jn 10:22-39). So when he claims to be the shepherd he is claiming that Messiah has come and in him God himself has come to shepherd his people.

  http://bible.gospelcom.net/

     In the second section of this chapter, not only is Jesus the Good Shepherd rejected, but the rejection renews the continuing questioning of identity and messiahship:

 22 At that time the festival of the Dedication took place in Jerusalem. It was winter, 23 and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the portico 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 Messiah, † tell us plainly." 25 Jesus answered, "I have told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name testify to me; 26 but you do not believe, because you do not belong to my sheep. 27 My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 What my Father has given me is greater than all else, and no one can snatch it out of the Father’s hand. † 30 The Father and I are one."

Jesus tells his questioners plainly that they cannot be his sheep if they have already rejected him as shepherd. He says to them explicitly "The Father and I are one." While the parable and the teaching are connected, that it is winter and the feast of Dedication suggests time lapse:

We have here the time when this conference was: It was at the feast of dedication, and it was winter, a feast that was annually observed by consent, in remembrance of the dedication of a new altar and the purging of the temple, by Judas Maccabaeus, after the temple had been profaned and the altar defiled; we have the story of it at large in the history of the Maccabees (lib. 1, cap. 4); we have the prophecy of it, Dan. 8:13, 14. See more of the feast, 2 Mac. 1:18. The return of their liberty was to them as life from the dead, and, in remembrance of it, they kept an annual feast on the twenty-fifth day of the month Cisleu, about the beginning of December, and seven days after. The celebrating of it was not confined to Jerusalem, as that of the divine feasts was, but every one observed it in his own place, not as a holy time (it is only a divine institution that can sanctify a day), but as a good time, as the days of Purim, Esth. 9:19. Christ forecasted to be now at Jerusalem, not in honour of the feast, which did not require his attendance there, but that he might improve those eight days of vacation for good purposes.
Henry, M. 1996, c1991. Matthew Henry's commentary on the whole Bible : Complete and unabridged in one volume (Jn 10:22). Hendrickson: Peabody


The Net Bible identified the Dedication as Hanukkah:

55tn That is, Hanukkah or the ‘Festival of Lights.’ The Greek name for the feast, taV ejgkaivnia (ta enkainia), literally means “renewal” and was used to translate Hanukkah which means “dedication.” The Greek noun, with its related verbs, was the standard term used in the LXX for the consecration of the altar of the Tabernacle (Num 7:10-11), the altar of the temple of Solomon (1 Kgs 8:63; 2 Chr 7:5), and the altar of the second temple (Ezra 6:16). The word is thus connected with the consecration of all the houses of God in the history of the nation of Israel.
sn The feast of the Dedication (also known as Hanukkah) was a feast celebrating annually the Maccabean victories of 165-164 b.c.—when Judas Maccabeus drove out the Syrians, rebuilt the altar, and rededicated the temple on 25 Kislev (1 Macc 4:41-61). From a historical standpoint, it was the last great deliverance the Jewish people had experienced, and it came at a time when least expected. Josephus ends his account of the institution of the festival with the following statement: “And from that time to the present we observe this festival, which we call the festival of Lights, giving this name to it, I think, from the fact that the right to worship appeared to us at a time when we hardly dared hope for it” (Ant. 12.7.6 [12.325]).
56sn It was winter. The feast began on 25 Kislev, in November-December of the modern Gregorian calendar.
57tn Or “portico,” “colonnade”; Grk “stoa.”
sn Solomons Portico was a covered walkway formed by rows of columns supporting a roof and open on the inner side facing the center of the temple complex.
http://www.bible.org/netbible/

At this dedication, the Jews rise to Jesus' statement that "The Father and I are one," accusing him of blasphemy:

33 The Jews answered, "It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you, but for blasphemy, because you, though only a human being, are making yourself God."

36 do you say of him whom the Father consecrated and sent into the world, `You are blaspheming,' because I said, `I am the Son of God'?

37 If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me;

38 but if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father."

 

        At this point, Jesus is nearly stoned, not for his works, but for blasphemy:

25 Jesus answered them, "I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father's name, they bear witness to me;

26 but you do not believe, because you do not belong to my sheep.

27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me;

28 and I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, and no one shall 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.

I and the Father are one."

Net Bible adds an explanatory note:

            71tn (10:30) The phrase e{n ejsmen ({en esmen) is a significant assertion with trinitarian implications. e{n is neuter, not masculine, so the

assertion is not that Jesus and the Father are one person, but one `thing.' Identity of the two persons is not what is asserted, but essential unity

(unity of essence).

To be one in essence connotes essential unity, and certainly, evidence that understanding Jesus to be one with the Father becomes a matter of faith. Those who rely solely on logic see good reason to pick up stones. Jesus quickly points out to his accusers the flaw apparent even in their logic; recall Jesus’ question concerning the common practice  of calling some individuals gods and the strict denial accorded Jesus:

34 Jesus answered them, "Is it not written in your law, `I said, you are gods'?

35 If he called them gods to whom the word of God came (and scripture cannot be broken),

36 do you say of him whom the Father consecrated and sent into the world, `You are blaspheming,' because I said, `I am the Son of God'?

Possible interpretations could suggest that Jesus makes no particular claim for divinity, or, on the other hand, as the Word revealed in his actions, he has even more right to be called “Son of God.”

82sn (10:34) A quotation from Ps 82:6. Technically the Psalms are not part of the OT "law" (which usually referred to the five books of Moses), but occasionally the term "law" was applied to the entire OT, as here. The problem in this verse concerns the meaning of Jesus' quotation from Ps 82:6. It is important to look at the OT context: the whole line reads, "I say, you are gods, sons of the Most High, all of you." Jesus will pick up on the term "sons of the Most High" in 10:36, where he refers to himself as the Son of God. The psalm was understood in rabbinic circles as an attack on unjust judges who, though they have been given the title "gods" because of their quasi-divine function of exercising judgment, are just as mortal as other men. What is the argument here? It is often thought to be as follows: if it was an OT practice to refer to men like the judges as gods, and not blasphemy, why did the Jewish authorities object when this term was applied to Jesus? This really doesn't seem to fit the context, however, since if that were the case Jesus would not be making any claim for "divinity" for himself over and above any other human being--and therefore he would not be subject to the charge of blasphemy. Rather, this is evidently a case of arguing from the lesser to the greater, a common form of rabbinic argument. The reason the OT judges could be called gods is because they were vehicles of the word of God (cf. 10:35). But granting that premise, Jesus deserves much more than they to be called God. He is the Word incarnate, whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world to save the world (10:36). In light of the prologue to the Gospel of John, it seems this interpretation would have been most natural for the author. If it is permissible to call men "gods" because they were the vehicles of the word of God, how much more permissible is it to use the word "God" of him who is the Word of God?

That those listening experienced the words of Jesus as blasphemous indicates an extremely literalist perspective, the same spiritual blindness that throughout John accompanies Jesus’ work. Jesus, however, reveals belief through his works:

37 If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me;

38 but if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father."

As they hasten to arrest Jesus, he departs from them, across the Jordan, to the place where John had baptized. Among the followers of John, Jesus’ works have initiated full faith that he is exactly who he says he is: the Son of God.

        Structurally, John uses the Feast of Dedication as the end of Part I in Jesus’ accomplished mission (teachings and works) and Part II, the Passion.  How appropriately then would John make the death and resurrection of Lazarus the prologue to the death and resurrection of Jesus. Alfred Edersheim argues this passionately:

 From listening to the teaching of Christ, we turn once more to follow His working. It will be remembered, that the visit to Bethany divides the period from the Feast of the Dedication to the last Paschal week into two parts. It also forms the prelude and preparation for the awful events of the End. For, it was on that occasion that the members of the Sanhedrin formally resolved on His Death. It now only remained to settle and carry out the plans for giving effect to their purpose.

 This is one aspect of it. There is yet another and more solemn one. The raising of Lazarus marks the highest point (not in the Manifestation, but) in the ministry of our Lord; it is the climax in a history where all is miraculous, the Person, the Life, the Words, the Work. As regards Himself, we have here the fullest evidence alike of His Divinity and Humanity; as regards those who witnessed it, the highest manifestation of faith and of unbelief. Here, on this height, the two ways finally meet and part. And from this high point, not only from the resolution of the Sanhedrists, but from the raising of Lazarus, we have our first clear outlook on the Death and Resurrection of Christ, of which the raising of Lazarus was the typical prelude. From this height, also, have we an outlook upon the gathering of the Church at His empty Tomb, where the precious words spoken at the grave of Lazarus received their full meaning, till Death shall be no more.

 But chiefly do we now think of it as the Miracle of Miracles in the history of the Christ. He had, indeed, before this raised the dead; but it had been in far-off Galilee, and in circumstances essentially different. But now it would be one so well known as Lazarus, at the very gates of Jerusalem, in the sight of all men, and amidst surroundings which admitted not of mistake or doubt. If this Miracle be true, we instinctively feel all is true; and Spinoza was right in saying, [1 As quoted by Godet (ad loc.).] that if he could believe the raising of Lazarus, he would tear to shreds his system, and humbly accept the creed of Christians.  

Structurally, the ending of John ten--40 He went away again across the Jordan to the place where John had been baptizing earlier, and he remained there. 41 Many came to him, and they were saying, "John performed no sign, but everything that John said about this man was true." 42 And many believed in him there.--ties together the first ten chapters and the conclusion of the public mission of Jesus:

        Jesus leaves Jerusalem and goes back across the Jordan to the place where John had been baptizing in the early days (v. 40; cf. 1:28). John's witness was reported extensively in chapter 1 and then referred to a couple of times 3:23-30; 5:33-36). This reference ties together the first ten chapters and therefore signals the conclusion of a major section of the Gospel. Jesus' next great deed, the raising of Lazarus, reveals the heart of what his whole ministry has been about, but it takes place in a semiprivate setting. Thus the public ministry of Jesus now concludes--"the narrative of the Lord's ministry closes on the spot where it began" (Westcott 1908:2:73).

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        John easily can be read, but a simple reading misses much of its beauty. That beauty reveals itself not only in the literary structure but within the language itself. An example of this exists in theological parallelisms, such as the one pointed out by Alfred Edersheim in chapter ten:

 My sheep hear My Voice, And they follow me: And they shall never perish.

 And I know them, And I give unto them eternal life: And no one shall snatch out of my hand.

The hireling Is an hireling, Careth not for the sheep. Fleeth

 I Am the good Shepherd, Know the sheep, Lay down My Life.

The parallelism spelled out: My sheep hear My Voice; And I know them. They follow me, and I give them eternal life. They shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand. The second set of parallelisms sets up a contrast between the hireling and the Good Shepherd: the hireling careth not for the sheep; I know the sheep; the hireling fleeth, but I lay down my life. Viewed in this way, John theologically outlines the course of events to follow.  Lazareth forms the prelude to the work of Christ on the cross accomplished for all.