|John 10:22-39||Read Online|
But you don’t believe because you’re not My sheep. My sheep hear My voice, I know them, and they follow Me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish—ever! No one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all. No one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. The Father and I are one.
Since we’re several generations removed from shepherding sheep, the rich background of the relationship of the shepherd to his sheep and the concerns of a shepherd are, for all practical purposes, lost to us.
One commentator painted a beautiful picture of a flock of sheep obediently following their shepherd through the present-day bustling, noisy streets of Israel, all the while singing and whistling to them encouragingly.
In another instance, as shepherds called out and sang to a huge, combined flock, the sheep separated themselves into four groups, each responding only to the voice known and trusted. What a beautiful picture of a follower of Christ, responding obediently to His voice—the one voice we follow in trust and obedience!
The sheepfold is a place of protection and safety, of gathering and counting. The shepherd himself becomes the “door” as he lies down in front of the small opening in the wall or hedge, so no predator or stranger can enter without his notice. Only those who know him can enter.
As a believer, you are one of His sheep, under His protection and care and He has declared on the authority of His Father that no one can snatch you out of His hand!
The shepherd’s job is to know the places, which are best for his sheep day by day, and to lead them there with both pasturage and protection in mind. We’re told that each sheep has a name, and that the shepherd recognizes the special habits, characteristics and tendencies of each one.
These word pictures help us better understand John’s writings and give light to other important passages like the 23rd Psalm, Isaiah 53 and the parable of the lost sheep.
The setting for this passage, a profound conflict between Jesus and Israel’s religious leaders, was the wonderful, family-oriented Feast of Dedication, commemorating the rededication of the Temple. The feast celebrated the rejection of false rulers, and specifically the Syrian ruler Antiochus IV.
You can see the irony in that Israel’s religious leaders (false leaders themselves) totally rejected Jesus, refusing to believe the signs, wonders and miracles He performed.
Antiochus desecrated the Temple by slaughtering a pig on the altar and by erecting a statue of Zeus in the most holy place. After his defeat and expulsion from Israel around 164 BC, this new, national religious-freedom festival was introduced into the Jewish calendar.
It was during the festival that Jesus spoke the words recorded in John 10:30, “I and the Father are one,” words that pierced the hearts of the religious leaders to the point that they declared Him raving mad and demon-possessed.
Why was (and is) this claim of being “one with the Father” such a point of hostility and anger, inciting charges of blasphemy? Such a claim produces the same effect today in many parts of our world because if Jesus and God the Father are one, there is no room for any other to claim deity.
In post-modern America, are there not many paths to faith, and all leading to the same place? For the sake of religious tolerance, can’t we just agree to disagree?
Whether or not people acknowledge it as true, Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me” (italics mine). The authority of Jesus, the One and only Son of God, leaves no room for further debate.
The contrast between the religious leaders and Jesus could not have been more pronounced. They claimed to speak for God and were charged with teaching and providing spiritual guidance for God’s chosen people.
Said another way, they were chosen spiritual shepherds. They tried to trick Jesus at every turn and made light of the miracles He performed, yet they could not relate any acts of kindness of their own, any healings, or even mercies extended on behalf of the very ones charged to their care.
Jesus is the Good Shepherd. We are the sheep of His pasture. We hear His voice and respond in obedience and trust. He knows the best places for us to be, places of safety and pasturage, and He takes us there Himself. He knows us by name, and is fully aware of our habits, our characteristics and tendencies.
We cannot ever, under any circumstance, be lost to Him. He will allow no person, power, or usurper to come into the sheepfold and no one can take us away from Him. We are His and He is One with the Father. These are truths that bring joy to our hearts and inform our worship.
- When you think of a spiritual leader, does the picture of a patient, gentle shepherd come to mind? Why, or why not?
- Today, as you read this passage, which characteristics of the sheep describe you best and which do not? What will it take for you to fit the biblical description?
- Are you firm in your belief that Jesus and God are one, and eager to share that truth with others?