The Seleucid ruler, Antiochus “Epiphanes” IV desecrated the Jewish temple in 168 B.C. ending religious services in Jerusalem. The temple was cleansed and rededicated to service on the 25th of Kislev (December 14, 164 B.C.) during the revolts (167-160 B.C.) lead by Judas “Maccabeus,” a Jewish priest thus surnamed “the hammer” for his valor. The eight-day feast of Hanukkah “Dedication” continues to commemorate the restoration of Jewish worship in the Jerusalem temple. This is the occasion of Jesus’ teaching amidst the colonnades of Solomon’s porch, a stoa (covered walkway) on the eastern side of the Temple Mount. It was an older section, still attributed to Solomon from the original temple complex. Their history of rebellion and valor would have been forefront on this commemorative festival, for it was here the Jews desired Jesus to tell them “plainly” (v.24) if He was the Messiah (anointed One sent by God) to lead them in a similar revolt against the Roman Empire and restore Israel to its former prominence.
Because Jesus was not sent by God to lead a revolt against the Roman Empire, but to usher in the Kingdom (influence in life and lifestyle) of God, He did not answer their question “plainly” as they requested. However, He did answer them directly, “I told you and you do not believe” (v.24). Those who believe in Him belong to His mission and ministry “fold.” The “works” and words Jesus had already accomplished and continued to speak were evident to establish their faith in who He is and what He was sent to accomplish (cf. John 14:10-12; John 5:31-47). These Jews were unwilling to live by “believe” or die (offer acceptable sacrifices, cf. Romans 12:1) to the God they claimed to worship, hence they did not truly belong to His fold (v.26).
Those who truly belong to Jesus’ fold relate to His works and words. Their faith is established through obedience in adhering to His teaching (v. 27) initially found in the Torah and demonstrated in the power of His earthly ministry (cf. John 14:12). He grants eternal security and safety from the coming wrath to be poured out against sin because He is the anointed One of God. In this sense, He is the Eternal Shepherd. He feeds His flock with godly wisdom in order for them to pertetuate a God-honoring lifestyle and He leads them onto eternal life.
Is your life established through obediently adhering to Jesus’ teaching found in the Bible? Does your lifestyle provide evidence of the powerful influence of God in the world? If not, you can turn to Him in faith and allow His Spirit to control your life. As you do, others will witness the influence of God through your lifestyle (cf. John 14:12). Jesus still offers eternal security from the coming wrath of God to all those who live by and are willing to demonstrate His powerful influence through the words and works He already established because He is the Eternal Shepherd.