John 10:22-30

Commentary Excerpt by Tom Boomershine

The dialogue between Jesus and the Jews in John 10:22-30 raises the question that is most pervasive throughout the Gospel: the issue of the Jews. Are the Jews "us" or are the Jews "them"? My conclusion is that in the Gospel as a whole, Jesus is always addressing the audience of the story as Jews. The Jews are "us" not "them". The Gospel is addressed to Jews, and the invitation of the story is for every member of the audience to identify themselves as Jews.

Now that matters a lot with regard to how this story is told. When you say "the Jews,"these words should not be pronounced with any degree of distance or tone of alienation.It is very important in terms of the dynamics of the story that you introduce this story as one that is addressed to us, the Jews. Therefore, our ("the Jews") initial question to Jesus—"Are you the Christ?"—is not a hostile question. Rather, it is a question with which every listener can identify. That is its function.

This dialogue comes immediately following the good shepherd discourse. It is connected,as we will see, thematically with that discourse. That discourse follows the healing of the man born blind in which Jesus, after an incredible miracle and transformation of a man's life, addresses the Pharisees. The audience, then, is being addressed as the Pharisees.In this preceding dialogue, Jesus makes an appeal to the audience to become symbolically his sheep. He is addressing the Pharisees (and the listening audience as Pharisees) as he describes his sheep. His relationship to the Pharisees is a highly sympathetic relationship in which the audience is invited to identify themselves as Jesus' sheep.The question that has been present throughout the whole gospel is,"Is Jesus the Messiah?" Here the question is explicitly asked because previously every time that Jesus is asked that question either indirectly or directly he talks around it. In this instance he is more direct. This question is not an alienating question for the listeners. Its function is to ask the question on everybody's mind.

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