The gospel reading for today has a rather odd phrase: Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your law, I said, ‘You are gods’”? I think there is a tendency to be mystified and at the same simply think, “OK, Jesus said it…. That’s enough for me.” And then move on. But there is a lot going on in John 10, of which this gospel selection is just a portion.
The context for this chapter of the fourth gospel is the feast of Hanukkah (sometimes known as the feast of Dedication), a commemoration of the recovery of Jerusalem and subsequent rededication of the Second Temple at the beginning of the Maccabean revolt against the Seleucid Empire in the 2nd century BCE. This feast celebrated the reconsecration of the temple by Judas the Maccabean (164 B.C.) after its profanation three years earlier by the Syrian Antiochus IV Epiphanes (1 Macc 4:36–59; 2 Macc 10:1–8; who had sacrificed a sow to Jupiter on the altar of the Temple). This yearly celebration lasted nine days, was a “lights” ceremony like the feast of Tabernacles (John 7:2), and was celebrated in mid-December Continue reading