15 January 2016

Have you come to take away our souls?

Have you ever prayed to the Lord and asked Him to show you something… anything… beyond any shadow of any doubt... just so you can be sure?

I have... I still do... some times, some days...

My husband and I have often discussed this. He rarely doubts God, rarely questions if He is true, if He is good, if Jesus is Who He says He is and really did come and do what the Scriptures say He did. I, on the other hand, struggle with doubt more often than I care to admit.

In John 10.24, Jesus spoke to a group gathered around Him, Jews who had come to the temple for the Festival of Dedication. Today more commonly called Hanukkah, or the Festival of Lights, was not one of the original commemoration ceremonies instituted by God. Rather, it was/is a remembrance – according to rabbinic tradition – of a very specific provision by God. At the same time, it recalls what could seem to some an “inconsequential in the grand scheme of things” miracle. Historically this miracle took place in the time between the Old and New Testaments: Seleucid king Antiochus Ephiphanes desecrated the Jewish temple, forcing the Jews to abandon God’s prescribed system of worship and sacrifices. God's chosen people were obliged to adopt pagan rituals until the Maccabees (a group of Jewish freedom fighters) refused, rose up and overthrew the Seleucids. Once the Jews had regained access to the temple, they found a single, small, sealed jug of olive oil that had not been profaned and was, thus, acceptable for use in worship. They used this oil to light the temple menorah, expecting the oil to suffice for only a single day; miraculously, it endured for eight - the amount of time needed for more oil to be made ready. Thus, the Jews gathered around Jesus were in Jerusalem celebrating and remembering miraculous provision.

Not only that, but they had gathered in a location where God had traditionally accomplished great things (Matthew Henry), Solomon's Colonnade. 

At such a place, for such a purpose, at such a time, the Jews listened… and then confronted... Jesus. Standing in the presence of the most miraculous of all provisions, the Messiah of the World, in a place where the evidence of God’s hand had been so clearly present, the Jews asked Jesus a rather blunt question.

Most commentators suppose that the primary goal of this question was to waylay Him.

Look at some of the different renditions/translations of their question:
  • “…and said unto him, how long dost thou make us doubt?” (Gill)
  • “how long dost thou take away our soul?” as per the Vulgate Latin, Syriac, Persic, and Ethiopic versions 
  • “wherefore dost thou steal away our minds with words?” (Nonnus)

The Jews charge Christ with taking away their souls, or stealing away their hearts by hiding Himself from them. Strong words.

I find I can often easily identify with the Jews in this passage....

Please join me over at Missionary Mom's Companion, to read the rest of this post.


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