The Gospel reading today is under the heading of Jesus being rejected by the Jews, despite the prophecies, the work and teaching of Jesus and his disciples, many of the Jews wanted hard proof from him and were constantly challenging him. It must have been quite exhausting. I did a little research on this reading and I have taken some of the views of Karyn Wiseman to get more information on this text.
Firstly the place where Jesus was challenged was in the Temple’s porch or portico and it was also called the “porch of Judgement”. This was where the King would make judgements and sentences for those brought before him. Karyn comments that Jesus is physically embodying justice in this place of justice, something his life and teachings were about. The Jews challenged him to tell them straight that he was the Messiah, but he has given them miracles and explained the prophecies and still they have doubts, very much like Thomas in previous readings.
He likens his believers and followers to his flock of sheep, he once again shows us the analogy of the “Good Shepherd” who looks after his sheep cares for them and knows them all. They in return hear him, follow him, feel safe and have faith that he will look after them “I give them eternal life “. Jesus says that those that do not do this, are not his flock and do not belong.
Doubt in everyday life is everywhere, constantly niggling us and making us question what is right and what is wrong. Faith does not mean that we cannot question things that trouble us, but at times helps us to find our own way or reasons. Even Jesus’ disciples doubted that he was alive when the women came back to tell them the tomb was empty and they had seen him.
Jesus tells the doubters that he is one with God he knows his followers and they know him. This should bring us hope. Karyn Wiseman asks how do we do this? – “We do this by reminding our people of the gifts of God’s unmerited grace and forgiveness. We do that by once again bringing our people to the font to remember the gift of grace at baptism and to the table to remember the abundant hope we receive from the body and blood of Christ shared in the sacrament.”
Jan Bennett ALM and warden, St Maxentius