Not forced to believe

The Feast of Dedication was celebrated in Judea about the middle of our month of December. Created after the victory of the Maccabee-led revolt over Antiochus Epiphanes, it was decreed by Judas Maccabaeus that the celebration would last for eight days.

This feast was also called the “Festival of Lights” because there were lights in the Temple and in every home. Eight lights, one of which would be lit every day of the festival, were set in every home as a symbol of the “light of freedom” returning to Jerusalem after the rule of the Greek Seleucids and Ptolemies.

This is the backdrop to John 10:22-28 when Jesus is in the Temple at Solomon’s Porch where the rabbis strolled, prayed and taught the doctrines of Judaism.

The Pharisees had been trying to find an accusation against the Lord and were still trying to find cause to have him killed. On this occasion, they couched their desire with a request. They asked Jesus that if he was the Messiah, why couldn’t he tell them plainly (John 10:24).

Jesus had told them plainly. He told them who he was after he miraculously fed a crowd of more than 5,000. He said not to work for the food that perishes, but for the food that can bring eternal life (John 6:27). He told them plainly that the work of God is to believe “in him whom he has sent” (John 6:29 NASB). He then told them he was the Father’s manna that came down from heaven and that he was the bread of life. But, they didn’t believe.

Jesus did more than tell them plainly who he was; he performed miracles to show that he is the Christ of God. Yet even with show and tell, the Jews refused to believe.

God does not force us to believe in his son. The Lord God does not want a group of robots as his people. He wants everyone to believe in Jesus so much that they will obey whatever he says. That is the work of God that Jesus taught in John 6:29. There is more to faith than just believing. Faith without works is dead (James 2:20, 26). The work of God is believing so much a person will do whatever Jesus says.

Remember, Jesus taught, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter” (Matthew 7:21 NASB).

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