Sunday, May 5, 2019

John 10.22-30: Jesus in Winter

Winter. The gospel specifically says that it is winter when this exchange takes place. The Festival of Dedication is being celebrated. The Hebrew word for dedication is hanukkah. The festival we know as Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights, commemorates the Maccabees' victory over the Seleucid empire, the rededicating the Temple in Jerusalem, and the miracle of restoring the Temple menorah. So as you picture the time when Jesus says, "My sheep hear my voice..." (John 10:22-30) you should be thinking November-December. That time of year in Israel is the rainy season. Winter begins in late October and lasts through March. There is rarely snow, but temperatures are cool to cold and rain systems move in from the north, often stalling over Israel before raining themselves out.
Picture source here.
Why is it, then, that there are no stories of Jesus in the rain beyond those about storms that blow up on the Sea of Galilee? Jesus does use rain in his teaching (Luke 12:54: [Jesus] also said to the crowds, 'When you see a cloud rising in the west, you immediately say, "It is going to rain"; and so it happens.). But there is no rainy day recorded in the gospels, so, of course, there are no pictures that show Jesus and the disciples being caught in the rain and running for shelter in an effort to avoid a soaking.

It doesn't seem outside the realm of possibility that the conversation in John 10 took place on a winter day in Jerusalem that was cool/cold, perhaps rainy. Jesus and the disciples were in the temple, dry as they sat in the covered colonnade that is (was) Solomon's porch. Maybe a rainy day was the perfect day to talk theology.

For thoughts on Acts 9:36-43, click hereFor thoughts about Solomon's Portico, see this week's Facebook post. For Facebook thoughts about sheep hearing Jesus' voice, click here.

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