22 Then came the Festival of Dedication at Jerusalem. It was winter,23 and Jesus was in the temple courts walking in Solomon’s Colonnade.24 The Jews who were there gathered around him, saying, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.”
25 Jesus answered, “I did tell you, but you do not believe. The works I do in my Father’s name testify about me, 26 but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. 27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish;no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.”
31 Again his Jewish opponents picked up stones to stone him, 32 but Jesus said to them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?”
33 “We are not stoning you for any good work,” they replied, “but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.”
34 Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I have said you are “gods”’? 35 If he called them ‘gods,’ to whom the word of God came—and Scripture cannot be set aside— 36 what about the one whom the Father set apart as his very own and sent into the world? Why then do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said, ‘I am God’s Son’? 37 Do not believe me unless I do the works of my Father. 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 in the Father.” 39 Again they tried to seize him, but he escaped their grasp.
40 Then Jesus went back across the Jordan to the place where John had been baptizing in the early days. There he stayed, 41 and many people came to him. They said, “Though John never performed a sign, all that John said about this man was true.” 42 And in that place many believed in Jesus.
(John 10:22-42 NIV)
John opens today’s passage with the word “Then”, indicating a time gap between verses 21 and 22. John identifies the current time as the Festival of Dedication, which occurs in December. Based on the Jewish calendar of events, there was a gap of approximately two months between verses 21 and 22.
John tells us about the next confrontation between Jesus and the religious leaders. Jesus was walking along, and the religious leaders accost Jesus on the spot. This mob was not a cheering crowd or even interested and curious bystanders. This crowd was an angry assembly with venom in their voices. They came to pick a fight with Jesus.
The leaders demanded, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.” (verse 24)
Jesus answers them plainly: “I did tell you, but you do not believe.” (verse 25a)
As if the conversation from two months earlier had never ended, Jesus picks up with the same sheep and shepherd analogy that He used in verses 1 – 18. Once again, Jesus explains who He is and what He is doing while here on earth (verses 25b – 30).
The Jewish leaders, believing they have the evidence they need to get rid of Jesus, pick up stones to stone Him (v. 31). Jesus confronts them with the evidence He has given them that He is Messiah by all the miracles He has performed. The leaders ignore Jesus’ miracles and question His claim to be Messiah, which they claim as blasphemy. Nothing would convince this crowd that Jesus was Messiah.
As we look a little closer at verses 27 – 30, we see Jesus make an incredible promise, a promise that we can hold fast to during life’s fiercest storms. In these verses, we see Jesus inviting us into community with the Trinity, where we are given protection and provision for eternity.
Jesus provides additional evidence of being Messiah in verses 34 – 38, even using quotes from Psalm 82 as evidence. Jesus tells the crowd it’s fine if they don’t believe His words, as long as they believe the evidence He provided via His miracles. The response is the same – they don’ believe Him, and want to try Him for blasphemy. Jesus’ time has not yet come, so He leaves and goes back into the desert where John the Baptizer formerly ministered.
The Apostle John records that many did believe Jesus as Messiah because of the miracles He performed and traveled out to the desert space where Jesus was to see Him.
As Jesus retreated to the wilderness, He was truly the Good Shepherd, and His sheep heard His voice and followed Him out there (verses 41 – 42). May we seek out the Good Shepherd each day, listening to His voice to lead us, protect us, and provide for us. May we cling to His promises when the storms of life bear down on us, and the wolves are at the door.