Another feast, the feast of Re-dedication (Hanukkah) forms a stunning backdrop to Jesus words about sheep and shepherds. During this feast, Israel would read from Ezekiel 34 and lament the lack of good leadership in Israel during the Inter-testamental period when the Temple in Jerusalem was violated by foreign idols and vile practices. As these words were being read, Jesus intimated that they themselves were the false shepherds about whom they were reading! They had allowed the religious structures of Judaism to be empty of their true meaning. By contrast, Jesus declares, 'I AM the Good Shepherd'. Alongside of this, Jesus makes a clear claim to be God. Speaking of his own life, he states, "I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again" (18). The tension is rising as Jesus' claims are getting stronger and the reaction of the religious leaders grows more violent.
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