Many people believe that Jesus did not claim to be Messiah. Today we see religious leaders ask him outright and his answer was, I already told you that, and I proved it with my works. They didn’t hear him or believe him, he said, because they are not his sheep…
24 The Jews who were there gathered around him, saying, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.”
25 Jesus answered, “I did tell you, but you do not believe. The works I do in my Father’s name testify about me, 26 but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. 27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.”
31 Again his Jewish opponents picked up stones to stone him, 32 but Jesus said to them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?”
33 “We are not stoning you for any good work,” they replied, “but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.”
Jesus went on to say that the reason that the religious leaders didn’t believe him is that are not his sheep. Jesus said that only his sheep listen to his voice, believe him and follow him. His sheep are different. There is a special relationship between Jesus and his sheep which is based on Jesus and the Father.
The Father gives the sheep to Jesus (vs. 29), and Jesus gives the sheep eternal life (vs. 28). Once this happens, the sheep are guaranteed to never perish and they are in the hand of Jesus (vs. 28) and in the hand of the Father (vs. 29). Nothing can take his sheep out of God’s hand. Jesus proclaims that he is one with the Father in all of this.
I want to focus on the sheep at this point, yet staying with our theme, the leaders pick up stones to stone Jesus because he has committed blasphemy in their minds by making himself equal with God. This is, indeed, why he was crucified (John 19:7). Not only is it clear that Jesus claimed to be Messiah, it is the precise reason that he was sentenced to death.
We won’t believe that, according to Jesus, unless we are his sheep. Which brings me back to the power of Jesus’ words for those who follow him. Jesus assures his sheep that there is nothing which can take us from his hand – and his hand is the hand of the Father in heaven. We are protected and safe for eternity. Note that this doesn’t mean we won’t experience difficulty on earth.
Earth, though, is going to pass away. By Jesus’ words we will not. By Jesus’ promise we are eternally protected under the hand of the Good Shepherd and his Father… and there is no place else I would rather be…