This poem is based on John 10:22-39. Jesus is at the temple in Jerusalem during the Feast of Dedication or Hanukkah. The irony in the passage is that the shepherds of Israel, in the portico dedicated to Solomon, son of David and wisest of kings, are in the dark about the identity of the one whose presence they question. What caught my attention were John’s first words, in verse 22 which are both the first words and become a form of sorts for the whole.
At that time the Feast of Dedication
Took place at Jerusalem.
It was winter.
Jesus was walking in the temple,
in the colonnade of Solomon,
The word-wise king.
“How long will you keep us in the dark?
If you are Messiah, David’s son,
Tell us plainly.”
I have said, and saying I have said,
Will not make you open your eyes
Or see the light.
What I do, I do in my Father’s name.
See for yourself, my works speak for me,
But you won’t see.
I am a shepherd, and my sheep know me.
They hear my voice. I know them, call them,
They follow me.
I lead them in light, into life, safety.
With me they rest, find their salvation
Safe in my arms.
For the One whose hand is greater than all,
My Father, with whom I am one,
Gives them to me.
A spark, light shines bright in the colonnade.
At last, they see, and hear his words.
They reach for stones.
In the cold of Jerusalem’s winter
Her shepherds raise hands to extinguish
The Light of Life.
© Randall Edwards 2018.
Artwork: James Tissot (French, 1836-1902). Jesus Walks in the Portico of Solomon (Jésus se promène dans le portique de Salomon), 1886-1896.