Relevant Passages John 7:1-10:21
The Good Shepherd. Jesus’ story of the good shepherd follows on a sequence of events at the Feast of Tabernacles. After the feeding of the 5000 Jesus spoke of bread; at the feast he proclaimed himself to be the water of life, the light of the world, and then the good shepherd. Just before Jesus refers to himself as the good shepherd, John records tells the remarkable story of the man born blind. Jesus healed him on the Sabbath day, illustrating how the good shepherd cares for the outcasts and the vulnerable members of society.
- Jesus as the fulfillment of Jewish symbols? Given the point in Jewish history when John was writing his Gospel, the events he brings together might be intended to suggest that the events which Jews had celebrated for centuries in connection with their deliverance from Egypt may have reached their ultimate fulfillment in Jesus, who provides the true spiritual bread, water, and light, rather than the miraculous physical fulfillments which Israel experienced in the wilderness. To what extent would John’s Gospel have encouraged or discouraged the continued celebration of Jewish rites? What lessons might this Gospel have for those who believe they should still celebrate the festivals today? Romans 14 and Colossians 2 both suggest that the church should allow a both/and approach to the festivals, rather than to insist on an either/or. Is that still the case today?
- Before Abraham was, I am. Jesus’ claim in John 8:58 that he was the “I am” of the Old Testament would have sounded outrageous to traditional Jewish ears. What would be the Old Testament precedents for such a claim? Would it have been possible for the people to accept them before the resurrection?
- The man born blind. In John 9, Jesus heals a man born blind, and does so on the Sabbath day. In his day and in ours, which of the two lessons should take precedent, i.e. that suffering is not necessarily the direct result of sin, or that the Sabbath is a day for helping and healing? Are both truths still needed in our day? Has Jesus’ liberation of the Sabbath been taken too far in our culture so that the Sabbath has virtually lost its meaning?
- Shepherd, hireling, robber. Following on the miracle of the healed blind man, Jesus draws attention to himself as the true shepherd, the one who has the real needs of the people at heart. In describing the work of the true shepherd, he contrasts the shepherd with the robber who is actually intent on destroying the flock and the hireling who finds tending the flock to be only a job. What would be the modern parallels to these two enemies? Which would be the more dangerous, robber or hireling?