John 10:27-30 (NIV)
“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”
The one sign of being one of Jesus sheep, a member of God’s kingdom, is that a person will listen to the voice of Jesus. “Listen to” is a very important term. Many people heard Jesus’ voice, but only those who were truly His sheep actually listened to it, truly hearing what He said, and obeying what He commanded. Those questioning Jesus’ identity heard Jesus’ voice, but there was no place in their hearts for His words to take root and to do their work of transformation.
The benefit to those who were Jesus’ sheep who listened to His voice was that they were able to receive eternal life, a life that differs both quantitatively and qualitatively from the lives of “normal” people. Eternal life does last forever, but it is also a life that is eternal, infinite, in EVERY direction. It is a life full of God’s presence, God’s power, God’s purity, His power and passion, His provision, and His protection. It is an expansive life that has power to transform all that it touches.
This eternal life is secure for those who continue to live in Jesus. None of those who are truly His sheep need to worry that God might drop them or lose track of them, any more than He would drop or lose track of Jesus Himself. For all who follow Jesus’ leading, He is able to keep them safe from the enemy all the way to heaven’s gate.
But the saying that pushed those who were then surrounding Jesus over the edge was the final one: “I and the Father are one.” It is one thing to claim some kind of special relationship with God, or even that you were sent as an emissary by God to be the shepherd of His people. But Jesus’ claim of complete unity with God was tantamount in their eyes of Him claiming to be God Himself. Actually, that was precisely what Jesus was doing. He wasn’t merely claiming to be close to God, or in touch with Him, but to literally be the embodiment of God in the flesh. He restated this reality even more clearly with His disicples at the Last Supper (John 14:9-11). Those who are not part of Jesus’ flock cannot believe this. But for those who have had their eyes opened to the truth, the fact of Jesus’ literal divinity is perfectly evident in all that He teaches and does.
Father, it is no surprise that this is still a dividing line today. Many can accept Jesus as a good man, a martyr, a great teacher, maybe even a prophet. But they cannot accept Him as God in the flesh as He claimed and proved many times to be. Thus, that is the line between the people of the world and the people of the kingdom. And what we believe about Jesus clearly demonstrates which side of that line we are on. Thank You, Lord, for convicting my heart all those years ago, for opening my eyes so that I could clearly see who I was and who Jesus is, and helping me to move across that line into Your kingdom. Amen.