Text: John 10:22-30
Focus: Security in faith
Function: to help people see the truth that God has them in God’s hand and will not drop them.
22At that time the festival of the Dedication took place in Jerusalem. It was winter, 23and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the portico of Solomon. 24So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.” 25Jesus answered, “I have told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name testify to me; 26but you do not believe, because you do not belong to my sheep. 27My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me. 28I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand. 29What my Father has given me is greater than all else, and no one can snatch it out of the Father’s hand. 30The Father and I are one.”
Happy Mother’s day everyone. Today’s lesson is not very long, but it has a lot of meaning and hopefully, a lot of encouragement and depth.
My focus is on the security we have as believers who know and trust Jesus Christ as their lord and Savior. As a mother loves to comfort her children, I pray that this morning’s scripture will comfort you.
That is not to assume that you are not without comfort, but a hope, that the remembrance of what we already know will be there and present in your minds as you live your lives in the hope of Jesus’ salvation.
I find great comfort in verse 27 of today’s scripture lesson. Jesus says: “My sheep hear my voice, I know them, and they follow me.
I have always heard the verse to say, I can hear the voice of Jesus. I have always been mystical in my faith and have had what I believe to be several very deep and personal interactions with the Holy Spirit and what appears to me to be the presence of angels.
So, when Jesus says, “My sheep hear my voice,” my spirit resonates with the promise that is there in that verse.
I find myself listening for the voice of Jesus in my ears. You have heard me testify to the power of my calling into ministry when I heard the voice of God in my ear speak to me, “Luke 4:18.” It was the verse God used to call me into ministry and it says, ‘The Spirit of the Lord us upon me and He has anointed me to preach the good news to the poor, the release of the captives, the recovery of sight to the blind, and to set free those who are oppressed.”
So again, when I read those words, to reminds me of my own call to salvation and then in to Christian service for the Lord.
Jesus calls us toward Him.
And those who are willing to live their lives loving their neighbor as themselves, those who are willing to live their lives accepting others without judgment like Jesus preached are those who are listening to the voice of God calling them.
Let me paint a small picture of what is going on here.
By this time, Jesus has a crowd following Him. He has made His teaching about social justice clear. He has called out the systems that are continuing to oppress the least of these and He has given us ways to take back the power from those who oppress us.
Those who were doing the oppressing were pretty mad at Jesus for upsetting the systems and informing the people that there was a better way of living if they would just give up greed and love their neighbors as themselves.
They killed Jesus for telling them to love others.
Why does that message upset so much?
I keep having a fruitless argument with my Aunt on FB about refugees at the border. She often posts about how she loves Jesus and Jesus has saved her and what a blessing it is to be saved.
And I like those posts. But then she posts really negative stuff about the kind of people that Jesus was when He was a child. I am referring to Jesus as a refugee. I remind her that Jesus said that the way we treat the least of these is the way we treat Jesus Himself.
I remind her that calling refugees “Illegal” is the same as calling Jesus “Illegal.”
And I get loving responses from my Aunt, after all, she is a Christian. But I get hatred from others for posting that Jesus loves the ones they call Illegal and if we claim to love Jesus then, we too, will love the people that Jesus loves.
Remember, Jesus said. My sheep hear my voice. They will follow me, Jesus said.
But pride and sin keep us from hearing the voice of God.
And then He goes a little bit deeper and He tells us that He knows us.
I always read that verse to say, “I know Him.” It wasn’t until I prepared this sermon where I saw its true context. He knows us.
I had a friend who raised sheep and one thing he told me is that sheep are dumb. They need a shepherd to lead them.
Jesus leads us. Jesus calls us. And because we know His voice, we follow Him.
Jesus cares for us. When he says he knows us, it reminds me of an illustration I heard a preacher say once reflecting on the picture of Jesus carrying a lamb on His shoulder.
He said the shepherd would place the lamb on his shoulder to bond with it so that the lamb would know the shepherd and follow the shepherd.
Jesus bonds with us through the presence and the power of the Holy Spirit inside of us.
Romans tells us that the Spirit of God dwells inside of us and bonds us to God as a child is bound to a loving father.
But today is Mother’s day.
And I am reminded of a couple of verses that go along with the theme that Jesus has a secure.
Kairos, early Sunday morning, in the chapel, during a time of prayer
and reflection as we prepare for the lessons God has for us, we hear
either sung or read, the words from this prophecy in Isaiah:
Can a woman forget her nursing child
or show no compassion for the child of her womb?
Even these might forget,
yet I will not forget you.
16See, I have inscribed you on the palms of my hands;
The prophecy is that just as a nursing mother loves us, so God loves us and will not abandon us.
The second verse I consider is from Jesus Himself:
In both of these, we see the nurturing image of God loving us.
Genesis 1 says that we were created male and female in the image of God.
The Jewish name, El Sheddai means the big breasted one and speaks to God’s nurturing attributes.
So, when Jesus calls us His sheep, and He says He knows each and every one of us, I am reminded of the nurturing quality of El Sheddai, God the nurturer.
Yes, believer, we are reminded today of the security we have because Jesus knows us.
How do we know it is true? It is evident in the way we love others according to John 13:35.