Today, we are in John chapter 10, and we’re going to be working our way through verses 22-42. Just for a bit of context before we jump in: if you recall in the first part of John 10, Jesus had been talking about how he was the Good Shepherd. He basically calls the Pharisees thieves and robbers, and then calls himself the Good Shepherd. Now, in the text we’re about to read, we don’t know exactly how much time has passed since then, but some time has passed. So, this part of John 10, verses 22-42 really stands on its own.
So, we’ll spend time working our way through this and explaining some at the same time. As we work our way through it, I want you to notice what Jesus says about those who are not his sheep, like the Jews listening to him—and also what he says about those who are his sheep. Because after we work through this and see what Jesus says about those who are not his sheep, we’re then going to hone in just a little bit on what he says about his sheep, and that’s where we learn about what it means to be part of Jesus’ flock. So, Let’s start reading in verse 22:
22 At that time the Feast of Dedication took place at Jerusalem. It was winter,23 and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the colonnade of Solomon. 24 So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.”
So, the Feast of Dedication was a celebration of the day when the Jewish temple was rededicated about 160 years earlier. The temple had been desecrated in 167 B.C., and in 164 B.C. it was rededicated. So every year after that they celebrated this rededication. So that’s what going on, when he’s walking in the temple, indoors because it’s winter. And as he’s talking, the Jews suddenly gather around him. The word there means “encircle,” so they encircle him almost like a mob, and ask, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.”
Now, they’re not asking this because Jesus hasn’t been clear. They’re asking him so they can catch him in the act again, so they can have a reason to bring charges against him right then and there! They’re encircling him, asking him to stop playing around: Tell us plainly! We want to get rid of you, once and for all! Basically, “we dare you to blaspheme again.” They didn’t say that, but that’s their intention. And Jesus answers, going on in verse 25:
25 Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness about me, 26 but you do not believe because you are not among my sheep.
Certainly, Jesus has been clear. But, he hasn’t explicitly claimed to be the Messiah, at least not in Jerusalem—Back in chapter 4, he told the Samaritan woman that he was the Messiah—but other than that, we haven’t seen him explicitly claim this. But, he’s been so clear in other ways. In the works that he has done! All in his Father’s name! Let’s ponder for a moment. First, a few things Jesus has accomplished. And then secondly, a few things he has claimed about himself. Now, we did this a few months ago, but now, we’re farther along in John, and so there are updates! So, first:
What has Jesus done? Just a few of his accomplishments:
- Jesus healed the son of a royal official, without even being there (John chapter 4).
- Healed a lame man, if you recall (John chapter 5).
- Fed Five Thousand men, which means, on top of that, more women and children (chapter 6).
- Walked on water (also chapter 6).
- Healed a man born blind (John chapter 9). Those are just a few. So now, let’s look at what he has claimed, or what others have claimed about him.
What has he claimed?
- John the Baptist claimed Jesus was the Lamb of God who came to take away the sin of the world, back in chapter 3.
- He claimed to be the Son of God and the Son of Man in chapter 5.
- The claimed to be the Son of Man again in chapter 6.
- He claimed: “I am the Bread of Life” (John 6:35).
- He said, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink” (John 7:37).
- He, yet again, called himself the “Son of Man” in chapter 8.
- My favorite: He said, “Before Abraham was born, I am.” He uses the name Yahweh gave himself back in Exodus, and that’s in John 8:58. In that particular statement, he’s also claiming to be in a position not bound by time.
- And then, just two weeks ago, He said, “I am the Good Shepherd.” John 10:11.
So, he has been clear, yes. There is no question that Jesus has consistently been making extraordinary claims about himself. The problem here is not that Jesus has been unclear. The problem is that they don’t want to believe. That’s why he says, “I told you, and you do not believe. The only reason you have not believed is because you are not among my sheep!” Then he goes on to explain more. Look at verse 27:
27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.”
This comes off the heels of him saying, “You are not my sheep. Why? Well, because my sheep hear my voice, and they know it and follow it. My voice appeals to them. It draws them. Because it’s the voice that gives them eternal life.” He’s making very clear to these Jews that their problem is not intellectual. They may think it is or they’re pretending like it is: “Oh, we just don’t know, that’s why we need to ask Jesus- ‘Tell us plainly, who are you?’” But no, it’s not intellectual. It’s not that they didn’t know who he was. Their problem was spiritual. They are blind, spiritually. He straight-up told them that in chapter 9, if you recall: “Though you think you see, you are blind!”
Here’s the truth of it when you are blind to who Jesus really is: the more you are confronted with Jesus, the more hardened you become. Why? Because you can’t face the truth. It’s just like when you’ve painted a particular picture of yourself in your mind that isn’t really all that true. If you don’t like admitting where you are lacking as a person, when you’re confronted with where you’re lacking, you get defensive! You’re hardened! For these Jews, in particular, Jesus has said over and over, “You need me!” And the more they hear Jesus say it, the more hardened they become in their pride: “How dare you claim that I need you. Do you not know who I am?! I’m a Pharisee!” This was a position of pride and esteem! They didn’t need Jesus, and to say so was offensive.
And so, no, they don’t want to believe that Jesus was who he said he was, especially when he got to that last statement we just read: “I and the Father are one.” That is the most explicit, and in the Jews’ minds, blasphemous statement from Jesus so far in the gospel of John.
And that statement has been quite misunderstood, especially nowadays. Maybe you’re familiar with Oneness Pentecostalism. This certainly is misunderstood. The language here is very clear, however: the word for “one” is the neuter “hen,” not the masculine “heis.” Why does that matter? Well, the masculine form would suggest that Jesus and the Father are one person. One and the same, as in identical. But not only is the word in the neuter, but the idea that Jesus and the Father are one person does not make sense with the clear distinction between God the Father and God the Son throughout this gospel. John 1:1, for example, or Jesus praying to the Father, as another example. So, what’s Jesus saying, here? He’s saying that He and the Father are one in action. They are one in what they do and accomplish. There is no distinction between what the Father does and what Jesus does, as far as their goals and accomplishments. And when he says says this, this is enough for the Jews to, basically, go crazy. Let’s continue in verse 31:
31 The Jews picked up stones again to stone him. [Again, that makes sense from their perspective with what Jesus just said to them]. 32 Jesus answered them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you going to stone me?”
Anyone else love it when Jesus is clever?! It just love this. The funny thing is, though, he’s not merely being sarcastic here. He’s making a point. “You stoning me makes no sense! I have done nothing but good!” The Jews respond in verse 33:
33 The Jews answered him, “It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you but for blasphemy, because you, being a man, make yourself God.”
Pause: for anyone who ever tells you that Jesus never claimed to be God, ask them: “Then why was he crucified!?” He was crucified for blaspheming! Claiming to be God! Clearly the Jews who were actually here listening to Jesus knew he was claiming to be God. That’s what we just read. “You, being a man, make yourself out to be God.” Jesus responds in verse 34:
34 “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I said, you are gods’? 35 If he called them gods to whom the word of God came—and Scripture cannot be broken— 36 do you say of him whom the Father consecrated and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’? 37 If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me; 38 but if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.” 39 Again they sought to arrest him, but he escaped from their hands.
Now, this part of what Jesus says may sound confusing. But it’s actually easier to understand than you might first guess. Jesus is quoting Psalm 82:6 in verse 34, and his basic point is this: if you, in your own law, compare human judges to gods, you call them gods, in a sense, then how can you now be upset that the one truly consecrated and sent by God is claiming just that, to be the Son of God?! That’s the point he’s making here.
And then in verses 37-39 that we just read, he makes this point: If I’m not doing as the Father would do, don’t believe me. But, if I do as the Father would do, even if you don’t believe me, see the evidence of the miracles I’m performing! In other words, these miracles substantiate my claim that the Father is in me and I am in the Father. Jesus is constantly arguing that God the Father, who they supposedly believe in and worship, is the One who sent Jesus, and the one whom Jesus acts on behalf of. Does that make sense? That’s what he’s constantly trying to get across to them, and he makes every possible argument, shows every kind of evidence, and yet they don’t believe. Why? Because God has not given them into Jesus’ hands. Because God has not overcome their resistant to the gospel of Jesus Christ.
That is the ultimate description of someone who is not part of God’s flock. We saw it as clear as can be, right? They’re not his sheep because they do not believe, and they do not believe, ultimately, because God has not overcome their resistance to the gospel. You and I, in a very real sense, cannot believe upon Jesus without the work of God on our hearts. We choose rebellion, resistance, being our own kings and gods—every time that’s what we choose, until God does something miraculous in our hearts.
And then, the last three verses, we see John, the writer, show us, that even though these Jews would not believe, many others did believe. Verses 40-42:
40 He went away again across the Jordan to the place where John had been baptizing at first, and there he remained. 41 And many came to him. And they said, “John did no sign, but everything that John said about this man was true.” 42 And many believed in him there.
Here’s what I want us to do with the time we have left. We just saw and read so much about those who don’t believe. We saw what it looks like to deny belief in Jesus. Jesus describes them well here. So, with the time we have left, I want us to pick out the characteristics of those who ARE part of God’s flock. Who are God’s flock? What does it mean to be part of God’s flock. Five brief characteristics mentioned in Jesus’ discourse. The first four will be quick, and the last we will ponder for a bit. Number 1, what it means to be part of Jesus’ flock:
- You believe in Jesus (v. 26).
In verse 26, notice the first and foremost defining characteristic of those who were NOT part of God’s flock. Jesus said to the Jews listening, “but you do not believe because you are not my sheep.” By implication, of course, he’s saying, “my sheep believe!! Jesus’ sheep believe that Jesus is the Messiah! They believe that he is the Lamb of God who has come to take away the sin of the world! They believe and put their trust in JESUS alone, who can and will accomplish our salvation. Who, for us now, has accomplished our salvation, by dying and rising again.
Listen, there is no belonging to the flock of God without first believing in Jesus the Messiah. Yes, he’s the Messiah, and we believe. Do we believe, church?! Number 2. What it means to be part of Jesus’ flock, number 2:
- You listen to Jesus’ voice (27).
Check out verse 27. There are actually 3 characteristics of Jesus’ flock in this one verse. Jesus first says, “My sheep listen to my voice.” We cherish the words of our Savior. We listen intently because His words are invaluable. They shape us, they provide hope for us. This book, the Bible, is not boring for us! At least I sure hope it’s not. We treasure God’s words more than we cherish gold and silver. This is where we find HOPE! This is where we realize our great need for Jesus, and where we find that need satisfied!! We listen to his voice, because there’s no other voice like the voice of Jesus. Number 3, What makes you part of Jesus’ flock? Also from verse 27:
- You are known by Jesus (27).
If you’ve believed upon Jesus, you’re a child of God. You are KNOWN. Sure, in a sense, everyone’s known by God, right? But not like the children of God. In the same way I know some of your children. I may even love some of your children. But not like I love my children. Not like I love my children. Oh, how I love Jacob and Martin. Listen, if you’re part of Jesus’ flock, he KNOWS you, he CARES for you, he SHEPHERDS you. Number 4:
- You follow Jesus (27).
This is also from verse 27. We follow Jesus, because we trust him! If we have believed upon Jesus, that means we’ve entrusted our very lives to Him. He has dealt with our sin, and now we are freed to follow him! We’ve entrusted to him our eternal destination, AND we’ve entrusted to him every aspect of our lives here and now! We’re to have childlike faith. Meaning we trust God, like a young child trusts his parents! The parents go, the child goes. The parents stop, the child stops. You keep walking in Walmart, your kid follows you! Or at least that’s the idea, here. Obviously, not all of our kids are the best at following, and I’m including my own family within that little caveat.
We follow Jesus, because He is the Good Shepherd, the Good Shepherd who lays down his life for the sheep. Then lastly, where I want to camp for just a minute. What it means to be part of Jesus’ flock, number 5:
- Jesus has you (28).
Just in case, you’re getting a little you-centered with all these points. What makes you part of Jesus’ flock? You believe in Jesus, you listen to Jesus’ voice, you are known by Jesus. And you follow Jesus. In case you’re getting a little you-centered, let’s be clear here. What makes you part of Jesus’ flock, ultimately?! Jesus has YOU! Read with me, again, verses 28-29.
I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.
Notice where the credit goes. Notice who has who, here! I give them eternal life. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish! No one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me—did you catch that?! God has given us to Jesus. God is the one who overcomes our sin and overcomes our resistance to Jesus. My heart was hardened, and I couldn’t soften it! But God gave me to Jesus, and God softened my heart to Jesus, and God drew me to himself. And this God, who is greater than all [that’s what Jesus just said, right?]. This God, who is greater than all, no one is able to snatch us out of his hand. I don’t know of any better, nor more simple way to put it, than simply to say, “Jesus has you.”
And I don’t mean that merely in the popular way we use that terminology nowadays. I mean specifically within the redemption of our souls. Just sit and meditate on these words for a moment:
- He gave me eternal life. I didn’t earn it. I didn’t create this in and of myself. It was a gift. He gave me eternal life.
- No one will snatch me from his hands. By the word of Jesus, who was and is the agent of creation, through whom all things in EXISTENCE were created, no one will snatch me out of his hands. It is impossible. God has declared it, and in thousands upon thousands of years of human history, he has never broken a promise. No one will snatch me out of his hands.
- And then notice how Jesus’ language changes a little bit. No one will snatch us out of his hands, meaning Jesus. And then, speaking of the Father, no one is even ABLE to snatch us out of his hands. He just intensifies his language, doesn’t he?
Listen to Jesus, church. Especially when it comes to our identity, Jesus has you. If you’re a child of God, if God has given you to Jesus, and you’ve repented of your sin and believed upon Jesus: He has you. This is why the songs we sing so often emphasize this—not only that Jesus is mine, but that I am his! A few examples from this morning:
In the midst of pain and suffering and loss: Jesus has you.
I know now, I’m safe, cause nothing can harm me
Or break in and take what’s stored up for me
I need not to cling to dead helpless idols
They no longer can hold any comfort for me
I’m a son of God, and love is my freedom;
I can ask anything of my Father the King.
I’m an heir, I’m adopted, and my brother is Jesus;
I’m a son of God, and my soul is at peace.
If you struggle with you sin, or think you just have too many sins: Jesus has you.
What love could remember no wrongs we have done.
Omniscient, all knowing, He counts not their sum.
Thrown into a sea without bottom or shore,
Our sins they are many, his mercy is more.
Praise the Lord, His mercy is more,
Stronger than darkness, new every morn
Our sins they are many, His mercy is more.
Whatever it is you struggle with, whether sin or guilt or idols or suffering: Jesus has you.
No guilt in life, no fear in death
This is the power of Christ in me
From life’s first cry to final breath
Jesus commands my destiny
No power of hell, no scheme of man
Can ever pluck me from His hand
Till He returns or calls me home
Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand
Leon Morris puts it like this: “Our continuance in eternal life depends not on our feeble hold on Christ, but on His firm grip on us.”
Please, today, rest in this truth. Jesus has you. Hold on to Jesus, not because you’re afraid of losing him. Hold on to Jesus because he’s the only one who will truly never let go.