by Mike Ratliff
9 I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. 10 All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them. 11 And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. 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. (John 17:9-12 ESV)
In this post we will look at the sovereignty of God through the exposition of John 10:22-42. There is much here. In this passage, we not only have our Saviour’s claim of deity and equality with God, but that He also assumed His complete sovereignty over all things. This is why I find it so strange when professing Christians have a mindset similar to that of the Jews of the 1st Century, that what they believed, did, did not do, et cetera, determined everything. I have actually had more than a few fellows tell me plainly that it did not matter how clear I showed them the truth, they did not believe it so that settled it. From that I backed away and like our Lord in Mark 6:6, I marveled at their unbelief.
22 At that time the Feast of Dedication took place at Jerusalem. It was winter, 23 and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the colonnade of Solomon. 24 So 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.” (John 10:22-24 ESV)
In v22, John mentions that Jesus was walking through the Temple in winter at the time of the Feast of Dedication. This feast was a ceremony of great importance to the Jewish people. It originated at the dedication of the temple after its desecration by Antiochus Epiphanes. The Jews underwent severe persecution by this ruler. A number of years later, a priest named Mattiathias led a revolt, later continued by his son Maccabeus, that ended this persecution. Following this victory, the temple in Jerusalem was cleansed, and a ceremony was held to mark its rededication. Jewish tradition records that the oil lamps that were lit as part of this celebration had only one day’s supply of oil, but burned for eight days. This annual feast was marked by the lightly of candles and the chanting of the Hallel (Ps. 113-118), as well the waving of palm branches. Since the Feast of Dedication was intended as a time of great rejoicing, all fasting and public mourning were prohibited.
However, notice that despite this being a joyful time the Jew’s wasted no time in gathering around our Lord. What did they ask Him? They demanded that He tell them plainly if He was the Christ. Think about that before we proceed. They demanded that He show them if He was the Christ. However, as we are getting ready to see as we read the rest of this passage, they were not seeking clarity and understanding of who Jesus was, but rather wanted Him to incriminate Himself by openly declaring Himself to be the Messiah so they could attack Him.
25 Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness about me, 26 but you do not believe because you are not part of my flock. 27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My 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. 30 I and the Father are one.” (John 10:25-30 ESV)
The Words, “I told you, and you do not believe” in Greek are εἶπον ὑμῖν, καὶ οὐ πιστεύετε·or, literally, “I told to you and you believe not.” He had told them the truth, and, as we see later in the verse, His works were works that could only be done by one in the Father’s name. However, Jesus tells them and us why they are not able to believe. Why couldn’t they? They are not part of our Lord’s flock. All those in our Lord’s flock hear His voice. He knows them and they follow Him. He gives them eternal life, they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of His hand. Who gave them to Him? The Father gave them to Him. Do you see the connection here with God’s sovereignty and election? What was the Jews’ reaction to this statement?
31 The Jews picked up stones again to stone him. 32 Jesus answered them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you going to stone me?” 33 The 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.” 34 Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I said, you are gods’? 35 If he called them gods to whom the word of God came–and Scripture cannot be broken–36 do 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’? 37 If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me; 38 but 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.” 39 Again they sought to arrest him, but he escaped from their hands. (John 10:31-39 ESV)
In this passage, we see the utter spiritual blindness of those who have not been given the acuity by the Holy Spirit to see the truth by God. Our Lord said it plainly. Only those who are His of His flock hear the truth and follow Him.
40 He went away again across the Jordan to the place where John had been baptizing at first, and there he remained. 41 And many came to him. And they said, “John did no sign, but everything that John said about this man was true.” 42 And many believed in him there. (John 10 4-42 ESV)
My brethren, are you following a religion, a philosophy, a man, or our Lord Jesus Christ who is our redeemer? If you are truly following Him then it is because you were given to Him by the Father and part of His flock through election. You believed because it was given to you by God to believe and repent and live for Him. It was not because you were good enough in yourself to choose him and others were not. If that were true then our religion would be works righteousness based and it most certainly is not.
Soli Deo Gloria!