John 10:22-26 (NIV)
Then came the Feast of Dedication at Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was in the temple area walking in Solomon’s Colonnade. The Jews gathered around him, saying, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.”
Jesus answered, “I did tell you, but you do not believe. The miracles I do in my Father’s name speak for me, but you do not believe because you are not my sheep.”
The controversy over Jesus’ identity continued to heat up in the break between the Feast of Tabernacles when He healed the man born blind, and when he returned a couple of months later for the Feast of Dedication (Hanukkah). In those intervening weeks, the Jewish leaders had done little else than discuss Jesus and His claims.
Some clearly believed that He was the Prophet who was foretold by Moses based solely on His miracles. Others were willing to go further, believing that He could even be the Messiah Himself, based on the same miraculous power that He demonstrated.
But there was a faction on the other end of the spectrum who believed the opposite. They believed that Jesus was a great deceiver and a lawbreaker, based on His verbal attacks on themselves, as well as on His clear disdain for the “traditions of the elders,” including their traditional interpretation of the Sabbath laws.
In between these extremes was a sizeable faction who had not yet made up their minds about Jesus. They found themselves torn between the two arguments, unable to decide, and it was representatives from that group that approached Jesus in Solomon’s Colonnade that cold winter afternoon.
Their demand was simple: “Give us a simple yes or no answer to whether You are the Messiah. Don’t give us stories or analogies, just ‘Yes, I am the Messiah,’ or ‘No, I am not’.”
Jesus answer was simple, though it was not the answer they wanted. He had told them already that He was the Messiah, both directly, and in the parables that He had told. And the miracles that He had done, astounding miracles, also testified clearly to his identity.
But He went a step further. The reason that these leaders were torn, the reason that they couldn’t both see and hear the resounding “yes” to their question before they ever asked, was because they didn’t belong to Jesus’ flock.
This was a profound statement, because, as Jesus had clearly shown earlier, His flock was not simply those who followed Him; it was actually the true people of God. His statement here put those people, the very religious leaders of the Jewish people, outside of that group. They couldn’t see or hear the evidence of Jesus’ identity because they were spiritually blind and deaf. They had ceased following God long ago, and were now following rules and regulations, Moses, and long-dead rabbis as their gods.
Jesus did not write these leaders off at this point. Instead, His answer pointed out to them that there were things going on that they really couldn’t see. Indeed, after Jesus’ resurrection and the Day of Pentecost just a few months away, some of these would believe and have their eyes and ears opened and would be suffused with spiritual life. But for now, they were outside the flock, and would have to use the only gate of faith in Jesus to enter in.
Father, it’s really pretty simple once we have had our eyes and ears opened. Work powerfully, Lord, to open the eyes and ears of those all around us who need Your saving grace, so that they can see their sin, hear Your call, respond, and be saved. Amen.