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Sunday, November 18, 2018

posted Nov 18, 2018, 6:14 PM by Site Administrator

 

I GIVE THEM ETERNAL LIFE

 

John 10:22-42

Key Verse 10:28

 

I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.

 

First, My sheep listen to my voice (22-27). Look at verse 22. Then came the Feast of Dedication at Jerusalem. It was winter. In the Old Testament, God commanded the Israelites to keep the Seven Feasts. The Feast of Dedication is not one of the seven Feasts. In the Bible we see many Empires rising and falling. Exodus talks about the Egyptian Empire. Then, in 1 and 2 Kings, we see the Assyrian Empire and the Babylonia Empire. Then, we see the Persian Empire in the book of Nehemiah. That’s where the Old Testament stops. Of course, Daniel prophesied about the Greek Empire and the Roman Empire, and even the end of human history. But the history in the Old Testament stops with the Persian Empire. Then, in the New Testament, we see the Roman Empire. The Bible does not talk about how the Greek Empire rose and destroyed the Persian Empire, and how the Roman Empire rose – it does not deal with that period of time – intertestamental period – the time between the Old Testament and the New Testament. The Feast of Dedication was to celebrate the restoration of God’s temple – that event happened during the intertestamental period.

 

The Greek Empire of Alexander the Great short-lived. After his death at the age of 33, his Empire was divided into four Empires by his four generals – Ptolemy who occupied Egypt and Palestine, Seleucus who occupied Mesopotamia and Syria, Cassander who occupied Macedonia and Greece, and Antigonuswho occupied Asia Minor. After many years’ power struggle among these four empires, eventually, the land of Israel came under the rule of the Syrian Empire. In the year 167 B.C., Antiocus Epiphanes IV, the Syrian Emperor strongly persecuted the Jews in order to get rid of Judaism because he believed in the superiority of Hellenism. The Temple in Jerusalem was desecrated; an abominable statue was established in the temple;all sacrifices and religious rituals were prohibited, and anyone who performed any kind of religious activity in Israel was killed. Those who kept the Bible were killed, and parents who circumcised their children were caught and executed together with their children. Then, a priest named Mattathias, rose up and led a resistance movement in the wilderness with his five sons. After his death, one of his sons, named, Judas, who was called later Maccabee, which means hammer, led his people against the army of the Syrian Empire. God helped them and eventually, the Syrian Empire gave up on Israel – it was a great miracle. Their resistance movement worked. They overthrew the abominable statue placed in the temple and reestablished the worship of God in Israel around 164 B.C. Two decades later, the priestly family established kingdom in Israel - the Hasmonean Dynasty (140 B.C – 37 B.C) – Non-Davidic kingdom in Israel and it lasted until Herod the Great was assigned as king of Israel by the Roman Empire in 37 B.C

 

According to the Jewish tradition, at the temple rededication ceremony, they found that the amount of sacred oil that could be used in the temple was only enough for one day, but they needed the oil for eight days. So, they prayed, and by faith, they started the dedication service. Then, miraculously, the lamp light at the temple lasted throughout all eight days of the service. Since then, the Jews have celebrated the Feast of Dedication, which is also called, the Feast of Lights. In Hebrew, it is called, ‘Hanukkah.’ In 2018, it begins in the evening of December 2nd and ends in the evening of December 10th.

 

Look at verses 22 through 24. During the Feast, Jesus was in Jerusalem. As he was walking in the temple area, the Jews asked him, How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly. They were in suspense. Suspense is a state of apprehensive uncertainty. They know something big is coming, but they don't know what, when, and how, so they are anticipating with a sense of thrill, mixed with anxiety and fear, sweating in their palms - that's suspense. Here, the author, John, expressed the Jews' feeling well. They were in suspense about Jesus and his identity. Based on his words and miracles, there was great possibility that Jesus might be the Christ, the Son of God, but they didn't accept his words; they didn't believe in him as the one he claimed to be. As a result, they were in suspense.

 

Why did the Jews ask Jesus to tell them plainly if he was the Christ? Did they really want to know Jesus’ identity so that they could believe and accept him as the Christ? No. What they wanted was to know the answer right away so that they might not be anxious of it any longer. They just wanted to be free from their uncertainty. They were like London gamblers who bid a lot of money on Football games or basketball games and anxiously wait for the results. What was Jesus’ answer? Look at verse 25Jesus answered, I did tell you, but you do not believe. The miracles I do in my Father's name speak for me,  

 

Jesus had already told them that he was the Christ, the Son of God; he proclaimed, I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life. Whoever believes in me will never see death.Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him. Not only so, Jesus had already showed them many miracles so that they could see that he was the Son of God. It was even obvious to the man born blind that Jesus was sent by God, for no one could do such miracles unless God was with him. That was the only logical conclusion. But the Jews did not believe in Jesus. Even if they were intelligent, they were completely illogical and unreasonable; they were not like scholars at all, let alone like children of God. Indeed, they were in suspense not because Jesus had not told them the truth clearly, but because they had not accepted his words.

 

Here, we see that when people don’t accept Jesus’ words, they live in suspense. This is true with both believers and non-believers. Just like these Jews who attended worship service regularly, who read the Bible, and who even were willing to die than denying God, people may do a lot of Christian things such as attending worship service or being nice to others. Yet, when they do not accept Jesus’ teaching, they live in constant suspense, ever wondering what they should do, what will happen in their lives, and how things will go. The opposite of this constant suspense is confidence and assurance. This confidence and assurance is what faith is all about. Hebrews 11:1 says, Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This complete confidence comes from hearing Jesus’ words and responding to them. For example, Jesus says, Follow me. When we accept this direction and make our heart’s determination to follow him, not money or our own dreams and desires in this life, then, we don’t live in suspense; instead, we have complete confidence of what we must do and how we must live our life, how our future will go. Why do many people, even Christians live in suspense, ever wondering, What does God want me to do? How should I live my life? How will my future be? They are in suspense not because Jesus has not told them plainly about himself, about what to do and how they must live their lives, but because they have rejected his words all this time. We must accept Jesus’ words and live by them. Jesus says, But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. The righteous will live by faith.

 

Look at verses 26 and 27. Let’s read these verses together:

 

26but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. 27My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.

 

 Why did these Jewish people not believe the signs of Jesus' Messiahship? Jesus said, but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. Jesus thus far, had struggled hard to help them believe in him; he had made everything clear. But they rejected him despite all those evidences. Their response was illogical; it didn’t make sense. When they rejected him to the end that way, he simply understood that they were doing so, because they were not his sheep. The Jews had worship service; they had a strong sense of identity that they were God's chosen people; they were the ones who would choose to die than denying God. It seemed that they were God's sheep. But when God came to them and tried to lead them, they were not responsive. God taught them his ways, practically showing them what to do and how to live their life, but they did not listen to him. Instead, they said, I worship God. Or they said, I know the Bible. Why didn't they listen to God? It was simply because fundamentally, they were not God's sheep; they didn't belong to God, but to the devil. They only looked righteous due to their religious life and their knowledge of the Bible. Jesus said to them, You are not my sheep.

 

How horrible it is to hear from Jesus, You are not my sheep. We never want to hear these words from Jesus. So, we must not insist our own ideas and reject Jesus' words to the end. Instead, we must live as Jesus' sheep. Then, who are Jesus' sheep? Jesus says, My sheep listen to my voice, and I know them and they follow me. Jesus' sheep are those who listen to his voice and follow him. When Jesus saw Simon in the boat, he called him, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.Then, Simon got up from his fishing boat and followed him leaving everything behind. He was Jesus’ sheep. When Jesus told Philip, a sophisticated and smart student, Follow me,Philip followed him. He was Jesus’ sheep. When Jesus said to Nathanael, I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you, immediately Nathanael believed Jesus and confessed, saying, You are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel. He was Jesus’ sheep. When Jesus told the Samaritan woman, I am he, she was overjoyed and was changed into a shepherdess for Jesus’ name’s sake because she was Jesus’ sheep. When Jesus said to the former blind man, I am he, he believed him and worshiped him. He was Jesus’ sheep. It seemed that the whole world was rejecting him, but Jesus did not despair because he was looking for his sheep who would listen to his voice and follow him. And when he found just one among so many and after so many rejections, he was overjoyed and his spirit was refreshed. He was like a shepherd who searched the entire mountain all night to find just one lost sheep, and when he found it, he came home putting his sheep on his shoulders and threw a feast with his friends. He was happy with his sheep. 

 

Who are Jesus’ sheep? Not everyone who do Christian things, but those who listen to his voice and follow him are Jesus’ sheep. Now in our society it seems that everybody looks like a Christian, but only those who listen to Jesus' voice and follow him are real Christians. Maybe, what he teaches them, what he asks them to do is not what they like; maybe, they have to give up their own dreams and desires. Maybe, at first, they have a hard time; maybe, they cry a lot for the pain of denying themselves, for the sorrows of letting go of their dreams and desires. But eventually Jesus' sheep listen to his voice and follow him, doing what he wants them to do and living in theway Jesus desires, because they recognize his voice. As we teach students the word of God, many people respond to God’s word casually. They neither listen to Jesus’ voice nor follow him. But some people respond to the word of God so sincerely, and there in the word of God, they find the truth, God’s love for them, and turn to God decisively – despite difficulties, persecutions and even losses, they follow Jesus. How come? Because they are Jesus’ sheep. They grow up as wholesome children of God, beautiful and awesome. Jesus is looking for them; we look for Jesus’ sheep that listen to his voice and follow him.

 

Second, I give them eternal life (28-42). Look at verse 28. Let’s read this verse together:

 

28I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.

 

The Jews asked Jesus to tell them plainly if he was the Christ. At this, Jesus answered, I give them eternal life. Who can give eternal life to people? Only God can. Then, Jesus gives eternal life to those who listen to him and follow him. Then, who must he be? He must be God. That was Jesus’ answer, showing that he was God, the very one he claimed to be. When you listen to his voice and follow him as his sheep, Jesus gives you eternal life. What is eternal life? It is what John’s gospel has been talking about all this time – zoe, that truly fulfilling and wonderful life we have ever dreamed about. When you are Jesus’ sheep, when you respond to his teaching and follow him, he gives you eternal life, zoe, and you live a wonderful life and you are satisfied. This eternal life is what all peoples on earth have been looking for, but they all have failed to find; they could not find it in money; they could not find in marriage; they could not find it in power or fame. Where can we find that truly wonderful and fulfilling life? John 1:4 says, In him was life, zoe, and that life was the light of men. And now Jesus says, I give them eternal life, zoe. We are living this zoe life as Jesus’ sheep. In Jesus, we do not live in darkness any longer; our struggle in Jesus is not like grabbing the wind any longer; instead, our life in Jesus has a clear purpose, meaning and direction; we know what we are doing and where we are going and what is waiting for us. We know that we are serving God; we know that God puts his seal of approval on what we do and how we live our life. So, with confidence, we happily live as Jesus’ disciples, as children of God, dedicating ourselves to God’s work fully. Jesus’ sheep who listen to his voice and follow him are really blessed.

 

Jesus also says, They shall never perish. In John’s gospel, this word, perish is used repeatedly in comparison with eternal life. All people have one life, but this life, called psuche is not eternal. As Jesus says, its key characteristic is that it is perishing. Without being connected to God, the source of life, without having eternal life, Jesus gives, people perish because of their sins, and because of life’s challenges. Young people are usually strong and zealous; it seems that they will not perish. But Isaiah 40:30 reads: Even youths grow tired and weary and young men stumble and fall. Life’s challenges are so heavy and burdensome that even these zealous young people grow weary and they stumble and never rise again. Job matter or financial burden often is so heavy that people really perish; broken relationships are painful; and eventually, people are so lonely. At such challenges and burdens, even young people grow tired and give up. That’s how people live their life. But Jesus says that his sheep shall never perish! It is his heart’s determination, his heart’s will that his sheep shall never perish. He did not say that his sheep shall not have those challenges of life, but, that, despite such challenges and burdens, they shall never perish. Instead, they renew their strength in him; even if they fail and fall, they rise again in him; and then they soar on wings powerfully like eagles.

 

Our shepherd’s life comes with many challenges; sometimes, we are discouraged; sometimes, we are hurt; sometimes, indeed, we stumble and fall with no strength left. But at that, Jesus comes to us and speaks to us; he comforts and encourages us; he restores our souls. One time, I fell with no strength to rise – I had been struggling with all my might to do what God asked me to do, but simply the task was more than I could bear. When that kind of situation continued, I was really at the edge; my nerves were about to break down. Then, one person used very hurting words toward me; his inconsiderate words pierced my heart; I fell to the ground and I died. Then, on Sunday, as I heard the message, God’s words came to my heart. I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Gal 2:20) I almost grabbed it, but not completely. Then, that night, as I was praying to God, telling him that I was dead with no strength left, the same words of God came to my heart. As I struggled more, finally those words were really given to me – I grasped them. I realized that I had been crucified with Christ and I no longer lived, but it was the Christ that lived in me. Then, since I was already dead, nothing was the matter: how people treated me or they used some hurting words to me or how I felt. Such things did not mean anything to a dead man. When I realized this, I was suddenly freed from all those things. The only thing that mattered was whether Christ was honored or not. Then, I was revived; I could pray to God with thanks for Christ with all my heart. Then, I served God’s work together with that person who had killed me without any hindrance in my heart at all. This is not just my story alone, but the story of all of us; each of us has this kind of amazing story – how Jesus revived us and restored our souls. Every week, we are bombarded with so many things to take care – job, sheep, children, and husband. Burdens are there at work, at home, at school, and even in the church. But as we come to God in prayer, as we wrestle with the word of God in testimony writing, God’s words give us new strength – God’s words comfort us and encourages us. Sometimes, we feel like flat tires, but as we come to God’s words, we feel that new air fills our tires. That’s what we have enjoyed and witnessed every Friday at the Friday testimony sharing meetings. Life’s challenges are to come; they are very heavy and burdensome; people stumble and fall. But Jesus says that we shall never perish. This is his determination for us – we shall never perish no matter whatJesus says, No one can snatch them out of my hands. While others perish, we Jesus’ sheep rise above all challenges and difficulties and become victorious. Praise Jesus! He keeps us safe and sound. Don’t reject his voice, but listen to him and follow him, and he will give you eternal life, and you will be satisfied; you will be renewed in him day by day. 

 

However, that’s not all. Look at verse 29. Jesus says, My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. God recognizes those who listen to Jesus’ voice and follow him. Actually, He is the very One who chose them and sent them to Jesus. God is pleased with them and He honors themSo He pays attention to every step of their lives and protects them from all harms. Nothing can happen to their lives without His approval. Their lives are secured in God’s hands. 

 

As a conclusion, Jesus proclaims in verse 30, I and the Father are one. In what sense are Jesus and the Father one? In verse 28, Jesus said, No one can snatch them out of my hand.And in verse 29, No one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. In protecting Jesus’ sheep, Jesus and the Father are one. In their concern and heart’s desire for Jesus’ sheep, God the Father and Jesus the Son are one – they are in complete agreement with each other in this matter. Jesus’ love for his sheep is complete that he was even willing to lay down his life for them. The Father’s love for Jesus’ sheep is also complete that he was even willing to sacrifice his one and only Son for them. Jesus says, I and the Father are one. Later in John 17:22, Jesus prayed to the Father for his disciples, saying, They may be one as we are one. In their love and heart’s desire for his sheep, Jesus and the Father are one, and now Jesus’ prayer is that we also may be one with him, and with his Father, sharing the same concern and love for his sheep. When a new disciple begins to rise, we are all happy. When that disciple shares a powerful and decisive testimony on Friday, we are all happy and thankful. Outwardly, we don’t express our joy, but just clap and clap. But inwardly, we shout for joy. In the matter of taking care of Jesus’ sheep, we are becoming one with our Lord Jesus and with our Father in heaven. What a blessed people we are! 

 

Look at verses 31 through 38. The Jews heard an amazing message from Jesus that He gave his sheep eternal life. When they asked Jesus, saying, If you are the Christ, tell us plainly,Jesus’ answer was, I give them eternal life. It was the time they must give up their pride and accept Jesus’ words so that they too might become Jesus’ sheep and have eternal life. But as soon as they heard the words from Jesus’ mouth, I and the Father are one, they forgot all the heart moving words of Jesus; they got angry and picked up stones to kill him thinking that hewas blaspheming. So, Jesus explained that even though he called himself God, it was not blasphemy by quoting from Psalm 82:6. 

 

Look at verses 37 and 38. Do not believe me unless I do what my Father does. 38But if I do it, even though you do not believe me, believe the miracles, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father. Jesus did not regard faith based on miraculous signs. (cf. Jn 2:23-25; 4:48) However, since the Jews never tried to even think about his words, he encouraged them to be logical through seeing miraculous signs he had performed. He really wanted the Jews to believe in him so that they might have eternal life. After this conversation, Jesus withdrew to a remote place across the Jordan where John the Baptist had baptized in the early days, and many people came to him. They said, Though John never performed a miraculous sign, all that John said about this man was true.And in that place many believed in Jesus.

 

In today’s passage, we learned that Jesus gives his sheep eternal life. While people are perishing in this world due to their sins and life’s challenges, Jesus’ sheep enjoy eternal life; they are renewed daily, and they soar on wings like eagles. Let’s make our heart’s complete determination to listen to Jesus’ voice and follow him. That’s the way we can become his sheep and enjoy eternal life. Only then, we have a chance to live life to our true capacity. 

One Word: Jesus Says, I Give Them Eternal Life.

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