Preached at Cornerstone Church in Cascade, IA on August 28, 2016
Open your Bibles to John 10:22-42. Today will be our last Sunday in John chapter 10. I hope that all of you took me up on my encouragement to saturate yourself with this chapter this month. As I stated before, there are massive truths found in this chapter that are crucial to your adoration of God and your assurance of your salvation. It breaks my heart that many churches desire to keep these truths from their congregations, for it is these truths that get us through the hardest of times.
John 10:22-42 – “22At that time the Feast of Dedication took place at Jerusalem. It was winter, 23and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the colonnade of Solomon. 24So 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.” 25Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness about me, 26but you do not believe because you are not among my sheep. 27My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29My 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. 30I and the Father are one.” 31The Jews picked up stones again to stone him. 32Jesus answered them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you going to stone me?” 33The 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.” 34Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I said, you are gods’? 35If he called them gods to whom the word of God came—and Scripture cannot be broken-- 36do 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’? 37If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me; 38but 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.” 39Again they sought to arrest him, but he escaped from their hands. 40He went away again across the Jordan to the place where John had been baptizing at first, and there he remained. 41And many came to him. And they said, “John did no sign, but everything that John said about this man was true.” 42And many believed in him there.“
A Pack of Wolves
As we begin this morning let us first get our bearings. The events of our text today take place during the Feast of the Dedication. This Jewish feast was not like the other feasts that we have seen in the Gospel of John, such as the Feast of the Tabernacles and the Passover. Those feasts find their origin in the beginning of Israel’s history and are set out in the Old Testament. The Feast of the Dedication was a recent addition. It finds its beginning after the Old Testament cannon was closed, in the year 164 B.C. Many of you are familiar with this Feast by the name Hanukah. The mention of this feast does not seem to be particularly important except to be a helpful reference in regards to a time-line in the ministry of Jesus. As many of you know Hanukah is celebrated sometime during the month of December. This is true now, and it was true then. We can see the connection, with verse 2, “it was winter.” Because it was winter, it was common for teaching to take place, not in the open courts, but instead in a place named the Colonnade of Solomon. This place would later be the place in which the first Church would regularly meet. Acts 5:12 says, “Now many signs and wonders were regularly done among the people by the hands of the apostles. And they were all together in Solomon’s Portico. 13None of the rest dared join them, but the people held them in high esteem.”
In our text today, however, the Jews mentioned in verse 24 did not hold Jesus in high esteem. In fact the opposite was true. On this particular day, these Jews surrounded him like a pack of wolves and posed a loaded question, ““How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.” I say this was a loaded question for two reasons.
First, Jesus response in 25, “I told you, and you do not believe.” Throughout the Gospel of John, Jesus has made some very strong statements about who he is. In John 2 he declared God to be His Father and that he was the Temple of God. In John 3 he declares that he is the Son of God who came to give eternal life. In John 4 he tells the Samaritan women he is the Messiah. In John 5 he declares himself equal with God and declares that all Scripture is about Him. In John 6 he declares he is the Bread of Life and if you believe in Him you will live forever. In John 7 he declares that he is the source of rivers of living water. In John 8 he declares he is the Light of the World and that he was self-existent before Abraham. In John 9 he declares he is the Son of Man as prophesied in Daniel. And as we have seen in John 10 he declared that He is the Good Shepherd that was prophesied about in Ezekiel 34. And these are just the statements that are recorded in the Gospel of John.
The second reason I say it is a loaded question is because of their response to Jesus' answer. Look at verse 31, “The Jews picked up stones again to stone him.” I am convinced that this entire event was a set up. They conveniently surrounded Jesus and posed a question, not because they wanted an answer but because they wanted him dead. And why did they want him dead? Because Jesus claimed to be equal with God.
Isn’t it interesting how nothing has changed? Today, we see the same thing. Many people desire to remove all forms of Christianity from the public eye. Why is this? Why do so many people reject Jesus and want to banish him from the World that He created? It is because they don't believe.
The determining factor that dictates what side you stand on, the side of God or the side of Satan is belief. Everything hangs on believing. John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:36, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.” John 5:24, “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.” John 6:29, “Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” John 6:47, “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life.” John 7:38, “Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” John 8:24, “I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins.” Everything in this life and the next hangs on whether you believe that this Galilean Carpenter is the incarnate Son of God.
The Jews did not believe. Despite Jesus plainly and repeatedly telling them and despite the numerous miracles that backed up his claim, they still didn’t believe. Why not? Verse 26, “but you do not believe because you are not among my sheep.” The ultimate, decisive reason that the Jews reject that Jesus is God, despite Jesus telling them and showing them, is because they are not his sheep. If they were his sheep, they would then believe. We see them mentioned in verse 4, “the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.” The reason people follow Jesus is because they already know him. Again in verse 16, “And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice.” It is guaranteed. Then again in verse 27, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.”
The sheep who respond to the Gospel call and believe in Jesus are called the elect, this is not a Phil Parsons' word this is a biblical word. It is used numerous times in the Bible to speak about this specific reality. The elect are a group of people chosen by God before the foundation of the world to be saved. For those of you who believe in Jesus, the reason that you believe is because you have been chosen by God. You are sheep, and because you are sheep, when your heard the voice of Christ through the preaching of the Gospel you followed him.
The Gift of Eternal Life
But let us know as, what advantage is there in being a sheep and believing in Jesus? Look at verse 28, “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish”
The benefit of believing in Jesus Christ is the gift of “eternal life”. What is the gift of eternal life? Let us start with the word life? What does life mean? Earlier in John 10:10 Jesus says, “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” If this is true, which it is, this must mean that life is not merely breathing, for Jesus came to give life. The world is full of people physically alive, but they do not have life. They are merely breathing. Jesus came to give life. So it must be something deeper then just breathing.
In John 1:4 it says, “In him was life, and the life was the light of men.” So life is found only in Christ. And this life in Christ is also the light of men. What is the function of light? It is so that we can see. Light gives us the capacity to see form, colors, depth, height, beauty. So Christ has life, and this life gives humanity that ability to see. Now listen to John 17:3, “And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” Once again, life is not about breathing, it is about knowing. Knowing who? God and the Son of God. To live is to know God.
This world is full of people who are breathing, but they are not living. Why? Because they do not know God, and to live means to know God. This is the essence of being human. This is the function of existence. You do not exist to breath, you exist to gaze upon the glory of God and see Him as glorious. And this is what is so amazing, seeing God as glorious produces in you evidence of life, chiefly the fruit of joy.
Psalm 16:11, “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.“ The fruit of life is joy. Jesus says this in John 17:13 as he is praying to His Father, “But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves.”
This is what it means to live, to see God, to know God, to enjoy God. Breathing is not living. Living is glorying. And this is the gift that Jesus gives the sheep.
Life in abundance. What does Jesus mean by abundance? It is eternal. This gift of life is a forever gift. It does not fade, it does not run out, it does not end. It truly is pleasures forevermore. He does not give his sheep temporary life. He does not give them a year's worth of life. He gives them eternal life.
And why does Jesus give his sheep eternal life? Because they earned it? No! Because of God's grace. They did not work to receive eternal life, and they do not work to maintain it. This is the blessing of being chosen by a Sovereign God who showers us with His Sovereign grace. The Sheep of God will never perish.
Eternal Security of the Sheep
And why is this gift an eternal gift? Verse 28, “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.” The reason that this gift of life in Christ is secure, is because of the sovereign grasp of Jesus Christ. Jesus will not let go of his sheep. He is not just a good Shepherd, he is a strong Shepherd. There is no power that exists that is stronger than Christ. No matter how hard Satan tries to tempt you to turn your back on Jesus, he never will be able to.
Here are two examples: Job and Peter. First Job. Job was a man who feared and worshiped God. Satan believed that if God allowed Satan to destroy his livestock, kill his family, and take his health that Job would curse God to his face. God allowed Satan to take everything from Job, except his life. Did Job lose his faith in the Lord? No. Job 2:9, “Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die.”10But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women would speak. Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?”a In all this Job did not sin with his lips.” Why did Job's faith in God endure? Because he is God's elect.
Second, Peter. This is what Jesus says to Peter on the night of his arrest. Luke 22:31, ““Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you,d that he might sift you like wheat, 32but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” Just like Job, Satan thought he could destroy the faith of Peter. But he couldn’t. Why not? Because the Good Shepherd was holding him in his hands. Jesus interceded for Peter that his faith would not fail. And Peter's faith was as small as a mustard seed on the night of the crucifixion, but it did not fail. Peter's faith endured. Why? Because Jesus was keeping his sheep.
Jesus says this himself in John 17:12, “While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled.”
This security in Christ makes sense when you think about who the followers of Jesus are. They are a gift from God the Father to God the Son. Do you recall what Jesus said in John 6:39, “And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day.” Jesus loves the Father, and his joy is to do His Father's will. Do you for one moment believe that Jesus either doesn't want to do the Father's will or does not have the capacity to do the father's will? If you do, that is blasphemy. If it is God's will that not one sheep will be lost, then you can guarantee that Jesus will not lose one single sheep.
In addition, think about how Jesus came into possession of his sheep? John 10:11, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” The Son of God became a man and laid down his life. Why? For his sheep. Their is no greater price that could have been paid then the blood of God. It does not make sense that the omnipotent Christ would purchase a sheep by his blood, just to see Satan reclaim it and drag it to Hell. When Christ makes you his, you are his forever.
Which leads us to a question posed in Romans 8:31, “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can bei against us?32He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.j 35Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Isn't that good news? If my salvation was dependent upon me, I would have lost it within hours of receiving it. Praise be to God that I am saved by grace and I stand in Grace.
I cannot overemphasize how important this Biblical truth is for a Christian. It is the source of our peace, the source of our comfort, the source of our strength. Knowing that we are eternally secure in the Sovereign Hands of the Good Shepherd gives us the freedom to live with reckless abandoned for Christ. We can stare trials and tribulations in the face and find joy in them for they are merely a vessel to display the power of Christ in keeping his sheep.