Lectionary Reflection: John 10:22-30

John 10:22-30 (New International Version)

22Then came the Feast of Dedication at Jerusalem. It was winter, 23and Jesus was in the temple area walking in Solomon’s Colonnade. 24The Jews gathered around him, saying, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.”

 25Jesus answered, “I did tell you, but you do not believe. The miracles I do in my Father’s name speak for me, 26but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. 27My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. 29My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. 30I and the Father are one.”

Jesus is Lord

He told us?  Yes, yes he did.  I suppose he did.  “Jesus is Lord” is the primal confession of the church by which we are to know who is Christ’s (sheep) and who is not.  The trouble is, this confession has been tampered with… not on purpose, but by time:

The first tampering came from King James.  You see, “Lord” back then had a double meaning.  It was a term used for rulers (nobility) and a term used for God (Lord God being repetitively redundant).  When Handel wrote “King of kings and Lord of lords”  He was saying, “Ruler of rulers AND God of gods”  By our day, though, Lord has been reduced to a medieval “nobility” kind of understanding, and we have lost the God part.

On the one hand, it gave us the Barmen Declaration (not a bad thing).  When Bonheoffer and Karl Barth got together and crafted the thing in the 1930s, they said (basically) Jesus is Lord (ruler) over all of life and Adolf Hitler is not.  Christians need to follow Jesus and Hitler can go suck an egg… Okay, that was a paraphrase, but you get the idea.

On the other hand, though, this limited understanding of the word “Lord” has prompted evangelicals (and others) in our day to add the term “savior” and eventually (and often) drop the word “Lord” altogether. 

“Is Jesus your savior?”  Well, let me tell you if he isn’t your Lord, he isn’t your savior.  If he is your Lord, he is your savior whether you confess that part or not.

You see, though, the reason words like savior (redeemer, sustainer, etc.) have been added to the confession is because the “God” part has been lost.  In this and other passages, Jesus was clear.  He told us.  Yes, yes he did.  Jesus is God.

Now true.  Jesus was careful to always give evidence (like on the mount of transfiguration) or point to evidence that any sane and reasonable person could see and understand (like here where he spoke of the miracles done in the father’s name).  The reason was because there were so many people back then who claimed deity, beginning with Caesar and going from there.  Jesus was careful not to be lumped with the crowd, but his words were clear enough to those who have eyes and ears.  God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit is as imperative to the faith as “Hear O Israel, the Lord thy God, the Lord is one.”  Or as Jesus said, “I and the father are one.”

Look at Nicaea or Chalcedon: the other more detailed primal confessions of the church.  Or just stick with the most basic:  “Jesus is Lord.”

Jesus is ruler?  Yes, certainly.  Jesus is God?… woah.  Who can believe this?

Actually, when he revealed his deity at one point, his closest disciples questioned the same.  “Who can believe this?”  The gospels note that many went away and stopped following him after that.  Jesus asked:  “What about you?  Will you also go away?”  Peter replied.  “Where shall we go?  Yours are the words of eternal life.”

How about you?  Is Jesus your lord?  Ruler, certainly.  But is he your God?  Or do you have some other God, like some Hitler-government type or maybe even your own imagination?  Is Jesus your God or will you also turn your back on life?

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