Put yourselves for a minute in the temple as one of the people from our passage. You might be there as one of the people that have heard about Jesus so are just there, to see who Jesus was in all this. Or it may be as a Rabbi, Pharisee or one of the Teachers, that are not really happy with him or the things he has done or said. You maybe thinking about how Jesus felt at this point standing in the temple.
It’s fair to say that Jesus had caused some division amongst the Jews, with some people thinking he was from God but others thinking he was from the devil. So there really was a large group of people that wanted to know for certain who Jesus was and so were asking these questions like ‘Jesus, tell us who you are, are you really who you say you are, are you the Messiah, the saviour of the world, did you really come to save us, or maybe they were asking will you really make a difference to our lives?’ Do we ever wonder that?
It was the Rabbis, Pharisees and Teachers of the law, who, thought they were superior and ‘had it made’ who were the ones who had a particular issue with Jesus. They of course were waiting for a king to overthrow the Roman Empire, so they were finding it difficult to see this man in front of them as the Messiah, after all they’d trained for years, they were the elite people who studied and understood the scriptures… so who did this guy think he was? They were fine just as they were, they didn’t need this man called Jesus. I wonder Can we be a bit like that?
When Jesus is directly asked the question though – ‘tell us the truth are you really the Messiah?’ he doesn’t answer as we think he might with a straight yes. I have to say every time I read this passage, I picture Jesus face, and maybe what’s he really feeling, I think at this point he must be feeling a little bit annoyed, maybe he rolls his eyes, sighs deeply as he says, I have already told you, but you do not believe me. So, Jesus maybe felt exasperated that these people still didn’t believe… even after all they had seen and heard… they were still blinded to the fact that Jesus was the son of God, that he was the Messiah, and he had come to save them, and he could make a difference in their lives and today in our lives if we let him. It begs the question – where do you see yourselves with regards to Jesus? Do you know Jesus, does he know you?
Jesus answers by telling them that… ‘the things I do by my father’s authority speak on my behalf’… or to put it another way, seriously… you’re still questioning who I am after everything I have done and said? The blind have received their sight, the dead had been brought back to life and spirits have been exercised. The hungry have been fed and the poor provided for, all because I am who I say I am. When will you believe?
But Jesus because he is the son of God knew why they didn’t believe and because of this he doesn’t leave it there, he then goes on to explain why they don’t believe by saying it’s because they were not his sheep because – ‘If you were my sheep you would know me and my voice, but you don’t.’
It’s very important that we understand exactly what Jesus is saying here, as it applies just as much to us today as it did to the people there. Jesus says that his sheep have the following characteristics – they know his voice, they listen, and they follow.
Do we know Jesus voice? Do we know when he is calling to us and wanting to speak to us? Do we recognise him in our lives? How does Jesus speak to us, how do we know that it is his voice? Dreams vision bible people prayer ……… but that can only happen when we focus on him
Do we listen to Jesus? What does it mean to listen to Jesus? It’s more than just hearing what he’s saying. He’s talking about listening and then living his word out in our lives. When we do that, he knows us because we are living in line with his authority.
Are we following Jesus, and what does this mean? When we look at sheep with their Shepherd it really is amazing to watch because sheep follow their shepherds everywhere, sheep really do know their shepherds voice and they obey him, they follow him as if their lives depend on it. Do we submit to Jesus like that? Because that’s what he asks of us. That’s what it is to really submit or follow Jesus.
But what does it mean to submit to Jesus well simply put its about putting Jesus above all else it’s about seeing others like Jesus sees them. It’s about humility it’s not about us looking good for what we do its about sign posting others to Jesus it’s about working together for the glory of God it’s about living out Gods will in our lives rather than for our own selfish ambition
The good news is When we do follow Jesus and submit our lives to him, he meets with us were we are, In the messiness of our lives through that he keeps us safe, he cares for us and he gives us life, life in all its fullness both here on earth then when we depart from this life, life for all eternity.
It doesn’t get any better than that does it? Let’s look a little further because Jesus at the end of our passage says when we belong to Jesus there is no one who can snatch us away from him, he is one with God therefore we are safe in his hands. I suppose the challenge for us is knowing who we are in God and living that out daily putting Jesus above all else in our lives.
Sadly though, so often we let other things get in the way, the business of our lives, other things become more important and we forget the importance of worshipping and praying together every week or having that quiet time each day with Jesus drawing closer to him reading the bible praying and fellow-shipping with others. And so, we stop seeing who Jesus really is, we stop following him and our lives become less because of it.
So, we really have to decide who Jesus is and where he stands in our lives and how important he is to us. It’s not until we put him first before all else that we can truly know him personally. Thankfully he is always there to welcome us home, never too busy for us and he loves us more than anything. So, let’s love him in the same way, let’s be his sheep and follow him daily.