Jesus was in Jerusalem, He had just taught the people saying, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives his life for the sheep.” John 10:11.
He basically just gave them the gospel message.
And then there was a division among the Jews because of His sayings.
Many of them said,” He has a demon, and is mad. Why do you listen to Him?”
Others said, “These are not the words of one who has a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?”John 10:21.
Well, the Bible tells us that Jesus walked into the temple ‘now it was the Feast of Dedication, (today, the festival of lights) in Jerusalem, and it was winter.
It’s the city in winter, always a festive time, and Jesus walked in. The Bible then tells us that,
“Then the Jews surrounded Him…” (Kind of reminds me of our day, at ‘Christmas’ time, oh, but I am told to be correct I must call it ‘holiday’ time.)
Back to the story,
‘Then the Jews surrounded Him and said to Him, “How long do you keep us in doubt? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.”‘John 10:24.
Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe.”
He also reminded them of the miracles that He had done in His Father’s name, but then He said to them,
“But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you.
“My sheep hear My voice…”
Well Jesus spoke – but,
“Then the Jews took up stones again to stone Him.”John 10:31.
And Jesus spoke more – but,
“…they sought again to seize Him, but He escaped out of their hand.”John 10:39.
Do you remember what came next?
“He went away again…” John 10:40. This is Jesus, the good Shepherd, the One who would soon lay down His life for the sheep; He went away.
The people did not like what Jesus spoke, they took up stones, they seized Him; He went away. This breaks my heart. He never defended Himself, He just …leaves.
It is true what is said of the LORD,
Psalm 103:8, The LORD is merciful and gracious, s-l-o-w to a-n-g-e-r, abounding in mercy. He will not always strive with us, Nor will He keep His anger forever.”
But the Bible just doesn’t leave us hanging, it tells us exactly where Jesus went after this rejection, this misunderstanding, this …evil.
“And He went away again beyond the Jordan to the place where John was baptizing at first, and there He stayed.John 10:40.
So we can go back to John 1:28 and find the exact location, so this must be important, it was in Bethabara. A desert region, remote and away from the hustle and bustle of the city. This is where John the Baptist proclaimed, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” John 1:29.
Here in Bethabara, John the Baptist witnessed something amazing and he didn’t just keep it to himself – he ‘bore witness, saying,”I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and He remained upon Him.
I did not know Him, but He who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘Upon whom you see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, this is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’
“And I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God.”John 1:32-34.
God the Father who sent John the Baptist to baptize, spoke of the Spirit remaining on the Son. It’s the Trinity. Here in Bethabara! Here in this desert place in winter.
Don’t we despise our desert places and the ‘winter’ of life’s journey? Don’t we just want the heat and ease of a summer day? But the frantic pace of the everyday has taken a toll and brought discouragement. Can we find refuge?
Jesus was surrounded, stones were even taken up against Him…He went away, back to a quiet place. A place where it was proclaimed,
“Behold the Lamb of God…”
We might not be able to ‘get away from it all’ geographically, but we can find a quiet place away from the pressure of feeling ‘surrounded’, A place of refuge where you can see the Trinity:
Desert, winter? Go back (in time) and sing real slow, these words:
“Holy, Holy, Holy! Lord God Almighty!
Early in the morning our song shall rise to Thee.
Holy, holy, holy! Merciful and Mighty!
God in three Persons, blessed Trinity!
Holy, Holy, Holy! Though the darkness hide Thee,
Though the eye of sinful man Thy glory may not see.
Only Thou art holy; There is none beside, Thee
Perfect in Power, In love, and purity.
Holy, holy , holy! Lord God Almighty!
All Thy works shall praise Thy name In earth, and sky, and sea.
Holy, holy, holy!
God in three Persons, Blessed Trinity.”
And may we ‘go away’ in the Psalms:
“Bless the LORD, O my soul;
And all that is within me, bless His holy name!
Bless the LORD, O my soul,
And forget not all His befits:
Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases,
Who redeems your life from destruction,
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies,
Who satisfies your mouth with good things,
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s…” Psalm 103:1-5.
So whether it is winter in your soul and a desert time,
you and I can still make melody in our hearts to the Lord!