It was one of those moments in Bible reading —the words of John 10:22 arrested my attention and I could not move past them. In fact, I did not want to. The words had unveiled Jesus to me so poignantly I did not want to let go —
“Now it was the Feast of Dedication in Jerusalem, and it was winter. And Jesus walked in the temple, in Solomon’s porch.”
The picture of the Lord, draped, perhaps, in a lambskin throw, (it was Winter!) walking among the columns of Solomon’s Colonnade, with the light of the great oil lamps flickering, casting warm shadows about the Lord of glory, drew a blanket of comfort over my heart for the approaching Advent season that would not quit.
I found it impossible to press past these verses in my reading through John. So I turned to the Old Testament passage, which I had also recently commenced, and realized that there I was being similarly arrested; I saw a heart-wrenching parallel,
“And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.” – Genesis 3:8 NKJV
Both passages record eternally significant moments — in the Old Testament, God, searching out Adam and Eve in pursuit of fellowship with Mankind’s heart, among the trees of Eden, in the cool of that dreadful day. Death had descended in the wake of their rebellion and its dark chill had made them flee to shadows and grasp at anything, in their futile effort to cover themselves.
Then in the New Testament: God, the long-expected Jesus, Redeemer, walking in Holy reflection among the columns of Jerusalem’s temple in the Winter, at the Feast of Dedication, as He prepared Himself to be given, to restore Mankind’s fellowship with the Father.
There, through the Apostle John’s recounting, we find the Jewish leaders breaking Jesus’ holy reverie, hounding Him to prove His Messiahship. Jesus had engaged them earlier in discourse, figuratively outlining the fact of their own spiritual blindness, in shepherd-sheep illustrations, as they had plied their upset with him for His Sabbath healing of a man born blind. Here, He patiently reinvokes that illustration, emphasizing that their blindness was due to their not being His sheep since only His sheep listen to His voice.
Did the light of the Hanukkah oil lamps, flickering around them in that moment romp in the tufts of the lambskin throw that may have draped the shoulders of the Lamb of God? Did earthly light struggle vainly to compete with the Light of the world Himself? If it did, the Jewish leaders missed it, for their response was to look for stones to slay Him before the appointed time—
My heart throbbed with fresh understanding of the heart of the composer of the Negro Spiritual,
“Di worl‘ treat You mean Lawd,
Treat me mean too,
But dat’s ‘ow t’ings is down ‘ere
WE DID’N KNOW WHO YOU WAS”
Just as the Heavenly Father walked the natural colonnade of Eden seeking His frightened children, so God, in Christ, seeks us in every season and is perhaps nearest, walking among the inner spaces of our hearts, where we hide, especially in our Winter seasons. Did the faithful praying for a way out of dark circumstances sense a lightening of their darkness that day? Did the tossed and torn sense a holy hush as He brushed by? Did hungry hearts feel satisfaction settling unexplainably on them as the Lord of Life hovered over them?
Whether it was a Hannah, or a David or any of the multitudes of Israel’s lost and scattered sheep, from past centuries to ours, the Great Shepherd is found walking among the weak and broken in the courts of prayer, in hearts of brokenness — quickening barren wombs, forgiving repentant sinners, comforting the grieving and gathering the wandering flock into His Fold.
In Divine self-revelation, He is offering to open our eyes to God’s new day, ever breaking upon the night of Man. He is staking His claim of Lordship over every circumstance that could ever face us.
That Great Shepherd of the sheep is wordlessly calling out to His own. The Great Creator God strolls, available wherever we are willing to admit our blindness. He is willing to not only cover our sin but to wash us clean in His own sacrificial flow, and sweep us up into His greater plan.
He has come to reveal the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. This Advent may we allow our brokenness to push us from the shadows to encounter the One who has come Himself, calling our name, lighting the way, this Winter.
“Now it was the Feast of Dedication in Jerusalem, and it was winter. And Jesus walked in the temple, in Solomon’s porch.” – John 10:22
This Advent, see Him in the temple. Amen.