In our passage for study Jesus reveals that he is one, along with the Father, who gathers, protects and eternally blesses God's people. We are confronted with the divine character of Christ and encouraged to respond in faith.
v22-23. The feast of Dedication was in full swing with the people celebrating the victory of true religion over the corruption of Antiochus Epiphanes. Antiochus had suppressed the worship of Jehovah and replaced it with the worship of Zeus. The victory of Judas Maccabaeus in 164BC, restored the worship of the true God in a cleansed and refurbished temple. So, the people celebrated, yet as Jesus walked in the temple courts, the chilling wind that whistled around him well illustrated the cold hearts of faithless Israel.
v24. The question asked by the religious authorities, concerns what they see as a tease. Jesus has never openly said that he is the messiah. He is light of the world and the shepherd of the sheep, but is he the messiah? They want a clear claim which they can use in evidence against him.
v25. Of course, in typical fashion, given that the question is probably hostile, Jesus answers indirectly. For those who have eyes to see, those who are seekers, both Jesus' teachings and his works clearly declare who he is. As for his opponents who both hear and see, they have long decided not to believe.
v26-27. The reason Jesus' opponents do not listen, understand, believe and follow, is because they are not members of his flock. Jesus is using his imagery of the shepherd and the sheep which is found in v1-18. Those who are his sheep hear his voice and follow him. On hearing Jesus' words we may well ask how does a person become one of the flock. Jesus doesn't actually explain the process here, but it is simple enough - ask, seek and knock, for those who ask receive, those who seek find, and those who knock it is opened up to them. Let us always remember that we are saved by grace through faith.
v28-29. Summarizing his teaching on the shepherd and the sheep, Jesus again makes the point that those who are his sheep are eternally blessed in the gift of eternal life, a spiritual life that is full, abundant and everlasting. Christ's sheep possess the gift of eternal security; no enemy will ever overpower Jesus' flock. The flock cannot be overpowered because God the Father is far greater than any enemy. In Christ we are secure.
v30. This security is guaranteed because both the Father and the Son are at one when it comes to the gathering, protecting and blessing of the flock.
If you scratch a believer, you will often expose a lack of assurance. We constantly doubt our eternal security. Our Christian lives are weak and compromised, rebellious even, so we easily doubt the security of our place in eternity?
This passage reminds us of just how secure we are. The gathering of the flock, the protection of that flock and its eternal blessing, is in the hands of the divine Godhead. Both the Father and Son are one in action when it comes to the security of Christ's new community.
We should be able to rest secure in the wonderful claim made by Jesus, a claim that is in full accord with the Father, that "I give them eternal life and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand." Yet, behind this promise lies our fear that we could possibly be put out of the flock for misbehavior. Immediately, those from a Reformed background will reply "once saved always saved." Still, the Reformed believer has their own demons to contend with. There is always the possibility that they were never a member of the flock in the first place, just a goat tagging along. Given that no one can claim that they follow Jesus perfectly, what degree of imperfection evidences our nonmembership of the flock?
Such demons fill us with fear, yet there is nothing to fear. As the chilling wind of disbelief confronted Jesus in Solomon's Portico, he was able to state that his opponents did not belong to his sheep. If they did, they wouldn't be trying to get him to incriminate himself in their murderous plans. The flock trusts the shepherd and follows the shepherd, that's the full of it and that's the end of it.
So then, what about perfection? Does our imperfection drive us from the flock? Certainly not; we rely on Christ's perfection, not our own. And what about our admission to the flock? Is selection limited, determined? Certainly not; ask, seek and knock, for those who ask receive, those who seek find, and those who knock the gate to the sheep-fold swings wide open.
On what truth does Christian assurance rest?