If we think that our Lord’s teachings met with total acceptance and that He never encountered opposition, then we are sorely mistaken. The Gospels are filled with such moments of tension and even rejection.
One such confrontation occurs in Chapter 10 of the Gospel of St. John (John 10:22-30). It takes place on the Feast of the Dedication, an octave long festival in December, also known as Hanukkah, that commemorates the rededication of the Temple. Antiochus IV Epiphanes had desecrated the holy place, but under the Maccabees the Temple was restored in 164 B.C. (I Maccabees 4:37-59; II Maccabees 1:18-2:19; 10:1-8). So, a celebration of rightful worship’s victory over opposition becomes the setting for another challenge, between our Lord and those who reject Him. St. John simply says, rather poetically, “It was winter” (John 10:22).
“If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly” (John 10:24), say the challengers. Our Lord points out that His works speak for Him and that those who do not believe are simply not part of His flock (cf. John 10:26). Again, He reminds them that the sheep hear His voice and follow Him (John 10:27). These sheep are given “eternal life” and “shall never perish,” nor will they ever be separated from Him (cf. John 10:28). The Father has given them to Him (cf. John 10:29). This belonging, this union, is the Father’s Will. Then, our Lord ends with this earthshaking statement: “The Father and I are one” (John 10:30). This provokes the unbelievers to threaten stoning Him (cf. John 10:31). Here they show themselves to be what they really are—rebellious. In rejecting Him, they reject something far greater.