I have spent eight years of my life in Russia, so I have a strong reaction to the phrase “it was winter” in this passage. I immediately begin to feel cold! I think of snow (and more snow); frozen rivers; short, dark days; and being so wrapped up to go out that only my eyes are visible.
Winter is mentioned here to explain why Jesus is walking in Solomon’s portico, a covered cloister of the Temple. He is enclosed first by the building and even more by the Jews who were “gathered around him.” The time when he will be stripped and shiver with fear and then be swaddled tightly in the cloister of the tomb is getting closer.
I am reminded of the “winter of our discontent,” referred to in the opening line of Shakespeare’s play Richard III. There is political turmoil and rivalry for the throne and a strong feeling that things are about to change.
The questions put to Jesus reveal the impatience and growing anger of his interrogators. “How long will you keep us in suspense?” They are desperate to discover what lies beneath the layers of mystery that conceal who Jesus really is.
I was once told by a patient I was visiting in a psychiatric unit that I was too buttoned up. I was indeed wearing a dress that had a lot of buttons, but she was really commenting—quite accurately—that I was difficult to get to know. Boundaries are crucial in pastoral (and all) relationships, but that patient taught me an important lesson. I may get an icy reception if I always clothe myself in protective winter gear!
Jesus, your loving gaze enables us to see ourselves as beloved children of God. Whatever season our lives and our relationships are experiencing today, may our hearts be warmed and refreshed by your grace and your peace. Amen.
The imagery of sheep plays a prominent role in three of this week’s readings. Psalm 23 uses the relationship between the shepherd and the sheep as its guiding metaphor. The Lord is our shepherd and leads us to safe and fertile places. Even when we pass through a dark valley, the Lord is there protecting us with a shepherd’s weapon, a staff. In the Gospel reading, Jesus describes himself as a shepherd who calls his sheep. Because they are his, they hear his voice. In Revelation, Jesus becomes the sheep—or more specifically, the Lamb that was slain on our behalf. Those who endure will praise the Lamb forever. Acts is different in that it focuses on a resurrection story, a manifestation of God’s power working through Peter.
Read Acts 9:36-43. How can you be a witness and a vessel for God’s activity?
Read Psalm 23. Reflect on the questions the author poses in Tuesday’s meditation. Allow God’s guidance and correction to be comforting.
Read Revelation 7:9-17. How does knowing Christ as both Lamb and Shepherd help you work to bring about things not yet seen?
Read John 10:22-30. How does your faith allow you to hold your convictions without needing to grasp tightly to certainties?
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