John loves to throw in the evocative detail: “It was winter” (10:22). Yes, in so many ways. The winter of discontent, as Shakespeare called it; here we might call it the winter of disbelief.
The Jewish leaders gather around Jesus and ask him to tell them plainly whether he is the Christ or not (10:24). This is an extraordinary thing to say, given how clear Jesus has been regarding his claims. Jesus replies, “I told you, and you do not believe” (10:25). Why did they not believe? Because they are not “his sheep” (10:26).
This gives Jesus the opening to utter one of his most famous and most heartwarming statements: “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, and no one can snatch them out of my hand” (10:27-28). There is enough warming truth here to tide us through any winter—physical, spiritual, or emotional. We hear his voice: our God is a speaking God and is not silent. He knows us: our God is a personal God who has intimate knowledge of our weaknesses and characteristics. He gives us eternal life: our God is a God of grace who gives us no small gift but the greatest gift of all, eternal life and life to the full! No one can snatch us out of his hand: Our God will keep us from all wiles of the devil, sins of the night, and temerities of the soul, to ensure that we land finally safely on Jordan’s side. However wintery it may be, in these few words we have a fire of warmth to revive us!
And then Jesus says, “I and the Father are one” (10:30). What a statement! Rightly perceiving that Jesus is claiming to be God, the Jewish leaders pick up stones to kill him (10:31). He asks whether they are trying to kill him for all the good things he has done; they say it is not for his works, but for his claim to be equal with God (10:32-33).
Jesus’ reply is a masterpiece of clarity and wisdom (10:34-38). He quotes from Psalm 82:6 where God calls those leaders who were responsible for taking care of his people “gods.” They have an especial god-like responsibility to show impartial justice and judge fairly. But they are not. Similarly, these rulers who are confronting him are acting very far beneath their high calling to protect the people of God. But yet even they were called “gods.” So how then could it be wrong for Jesus—sent by God from heaven as the unique Son of God—to call himself the Son of God?
They have no answer, and so, as is often the case, the last resort of a man defeated by logic is violence. They aim to arrest him (10:39); having no argument against him, they try strongman tactics. If they cannot defeat the argument, they can at least arrest the one making the argument. But Jesus goes back to the place where John had been baptizing, and many there believe in him (10:40-42).
Would you look at Jesus’ way of coping with these opponents, and find in his example encouragement when you are facing opposition? Would you look at what he says in this context and find strength to serve Christ today, knowing that no one—NO ONE—can snatch you from his hand?
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