John 9-10 Jesus at Hanukkah: Light of Life and Shepherd of Life
Broad Outline of Fourth Gospel Ch. 1Introduction: Prologue and Witness of John Ch. 2-12Jesus Before the World ("Book of Signs") Theme: Through signs and discourses, Jesus reveals himself as the Son of God, sent to save the world, but is rejected by the world. Ch. 2-4Images of New Salvation Ch. 5-10Growing hostility Christological claims become more explicit. “The Jews” become increasingly hostile. Organized around Jewish festivals, which Jesus fulfills: Sabbath (ch. 5) Passover (ch. 6) Tabernacles (ch. 7-8) Hanukkah (ch. 9-10) Ch. 11-12Final rejection Ch. 13-20 Jesus Before the Disciples ("Book of Passion/Glory") Ch. 21Appendix: Appearance in Galilee
John 9-10 Jesus at Hanukkah: Light of Life and Shepherd of Life Feast of Hanukkah (Dedication): 1.Some take ch. 9 with ch. 7-8 at Tabernacles. 2.Hanukkah comes in winter (10:22). 3.Commemorated cleansing and rededication of Temple by the Maccabees in 164 B.C. after defilement by Antiochus IV. 4.Legend of lamp oil that miraculously lasted 8 days. 5.Celebration featured prominent use of lamps and candles. 6.Popularly called “Feast of Lights.” 7.Ezek. 34 was read (false shepherds vs. God the Good Shepherd).
9:1-41 Sixth Sign: Healing a Man Born Blind 1.Healing a blind beggar (v. 1-12). a.“Who sinned, this man or his parents?” 1)Presupposes traditional assumption that suffering is caused by sin. 2)“Neither”: cannot assume direct linkage (see discussion on ch. 5). b.Sign demonstrates that Jesus is light of world (v. 5). c.Method: uses saliva to make ointment of clay; sends to wash in pool of Siloam (cf. Lk. 13:4); comes back seeing. 2.Controversy over the healing (v. 13-41). a.Pharisees question the blind man (v. 13-17). 1)Accuse Jesus of Sabbath violation (kneading the clay; anointing the eyes; healing a chronic condition; sending to wash). 2)Pharisees’ dilemma: how can a “sinner” perform such cures? 3)Pharisees put the blind man “on trial.” a)Blind man progressively comes to “sight.” b)Pharisees, who claim to “see,” reveal themselves to be “blind.” 4)Here the blind man opines that Jesus is “a prophet.”
9:1-41 Sixth sign: Healing a man born blind – cont. 2.Controversy over the healing (v. 13-41) – cont. b.Pharisees question the parents (v. 18-23). 1)Confirm blindness but refuse to give opinion about Jesus: “Ask him; he is of age. He will speak for himself” (v. 20-21). 2)Afraid of “the Jews,” because they “had already agreed that anyone who confessed Jesus to be the Messiah would be put out of the synagogue” (v. 22). 3)Anachronistic: reflects conflict between church and synagogue at time of Evangelist (cf. Martyn’s “two-level drama” interpretation). c.Pharisees question blind man again (v. 24-34). 1)Blind man refuses to call Jesus a sinner and says, “though I was blind, now I see” (v. 25) – AMAZING GRACE! 2)Pharisees declare him a “disciple of Jesus,” which means he can’t be “disciple of Moses” (anachronistic: John’s readers forced to choose). 3)Blind man rebukes Pharisees for not recognizing that one who opens the eyes of the blind must be “from God” (v. 30-33). 4)Pharisees declare him a sinner and “cast him out” (v. 34).
9:1-41 Sixth sign: Healing a man born blind – cont. 2.Controversy over the healing (v. 13-41) – cont. d.Jesus questions the blind man (v. 35-38). 1)“Cast out” by Pharisees – “found” by Jesus (cf. John’s readers). 2)Confesses Jesus is “Son of Man;” calls him “Lord” and “worships” him. 3)Blind man’s progressive “insight”: a)“the man called Jesus” (v. 11). b)“a prophet” (v. 17). c)“from God” (v. 33). d)“Son of Man” (v. 35). e)“Lord, I believe” and “worships” him (v. 38). 4)Fullest confession comes only after being “cast out” of synagogue (are readers called to separate in order to make full confession?). e.Jesus confronts the Pharisees (v. 39-41). 1)Jesus’ revelation brings salvation and judgment: “that those who do not see may see, and those who do see may become blind.” a)Blind man has come to “sight.” b)Pharisees reveal their “blindness”: “Surely we are not blind, are we?” 2) “If you were blind, you would not have sin. But now that you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains.” a)Jesus can heal only those willing to acknowledge their blindness and open their eyes to the light of revelation. b)To cling to blindness and call it sight is to remain in darkness.
10:1-42 Jesus the Shepherd of Life Background: Reading of Ezek. 34 during Hanukkah. a.Israel’s rulers are depicted as false shepherds (Ezek. 34:1-10). b.God is the Good Shepherd who gathers and protects the sheep (Ezek. 34:11-22). c.Shepherd becomes symbol for Messiah (Ezek. 34:23-31). d.For John, Jesus is the Good Shepherd in contrast to Jewish leaders, who are false shepherds. 1.Figure of the thief and the shepherd (v. 1-6). a.Jewish leaders are like thieves who break in. b.Jesus is the Shepherd, authorized to use the gate. c.Jesus knows his sheep; they recognize and “follow” him. 1)Imagery of sheepfold shared by several shepherds. 2)Calls sheep by name, leads them out—they know his voice, follow. 3)Verb for “brought out” (v. 4) is same as “cast out” (9:34). 4)“Follow” alludes to Christian discipleship. 5)Readers are called to leave synagogue and follow Jesus.
10:1-42 Jesus the Shepherd of Life – cont. 2.Figure of the gate/door for the sheep (v. 7-10). a.“I am the gate for the sheep.” 1)Third “I am” with a predicate. 2)May be image of shepherd sleeping across entrance into sheepfold. b.As the Gate, Jesus provides access to shelter and pasture. 1)Protects against “thieves” (messianic pretenders; Jewish leaders?). 2)Gives access to nourishment (pasture symbolizes “life”). 3)“I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” 4)For readers excluded from synagogue, “sheepfold” of Jesus offers greater security and abundance.
10:1-42 Jesus the Shepherd of Life – cont. 3.Figure of the Good Shepherd (v. 11-18). a.“I am the good shepherd.” 1)Fourth “I am” with a predicate. 2)Applies to Jesus an OT image of God and Messiah (Ezek. 34; cf. Ps. 23). b.Contrasts owner-shepherd with hired hand. 1)Hireling runs away and lets wolf devour the sheep. 2)Jewish leaders allow people to wander into danger (cf. Ezek. 34:1-10). c.Good Shepherd “lays down his life for the sheep.” 1)Jesus’ willingness to die proves his care for the sheep. 2)Emphasizes voluntary nature of Jesus’ self-sacrifice (v.18; cf. Passion Narrative in FG). 3)Willingness to die exceeds both OT imagery and pastoral reality (a real shepherd probably wouldn’t be so willing). d.“Other sheep” not of this fold must be incorporated into “one flock” (v. 16). 1)Probably refers to Gentile Christians. 2)Incorporated into “Israel” through death of Jesus.
10:1-42 Jesus the Shepherd of Life – cont. 4.Response to Jesus (v. 19-42). a.“The Jews” are divided over Jesus (v. 19-21). 1)Cf. separation of good and bad sheep in Ezek. 34:17-34). 2)Some think he has a demon and is out of his mind (cf. Mk. 3:21-22). b.“The Jews” interrogate Jesus at Hanukkah (v. 22-30). 1)They do not believe because they do not “belong to his sheep.” 2)Jesus gives “his sheep” eternal life; no one can “snatch them from his hand” – nor from the Father’s hand. 3)“The Father and I are one.” c.“The Jews” attempt to stone him for blasphemy (v. 31-39). 1)Jesus uses Ps. 82:6 (“I said, you are gods”) to justify calling himself God’s Son. 2)Refers to scripture as “your law” (anachronistic: reflects church- synagogue disputes at time of Evangelist). d.Jesus escapes and withdraws to the Transjordan, where many come and believe (v. 40-42).