It’s funny how effective some advertising can be. I don’t know if you can recognize this slogan, but if you’ve ever seen it on TV, then you probably will never forget it: “You’re in good hands. . . with All State.” In other words, this insurance company wants you to trust it. When you need it, it’ll be there.
I think of that slogan every time I read today’s passage, and with good reason. Chapter 10 really is a series of confrontations Jesus had with the religious leaders. In the midst of this passage, Jesus is contrasting his opponents with his sheep, his true followers. And it’s in the midst of this confrontation, almost as a side-issue, that he gives us some of the most comforting verses in all Scripture.
Before we get into that, notice the reason why they don’t believe in him. They’re not part of his flock. They'd seen plenty of miracles, and they'd listened to his teaching. If they had any openness of mind at all, they would've realized who he was. Now, it's true that he'd never publicly proclaimed himself as the Messiah, because that wasn't the Father's plan. But he'd fulfilled Scripture right in front of their eyes, he'd performed miracles (there’s a reason they’re called “signs” in John’s Gospel), and he'd strongly hinted at who he was. When it comes to belief in Jesus, you’re either one of his sheep, or you’re not.
But now let’s get to the positive side of this passage. Let’s see what he says about his sheep:
• His sheep listen to his voice. How do we listen to his voice today? Well, he can lead us by his Spirit, but the primary (and the only 100% reliable) way he speaks to us is through the Scriptures. As we read more and more of his word, and as we learn to listen to the Spirit’s calling, we understand it better. Also we learn to better distinguish it from a false shepherd’s.
• He knows them. Not just about them, but he knows them, like a parent knows a child.
• They follow him. What’s the surest sign that you’re one of his sheep? That you follow him. Not perfectly, because we all sin and disobey at times. But we’re talking about the general direction of your life.
• He gives them eternal life, life that never ends.
• And as a result, they'll never perish. However many sheep Jesus claims as his own, none of them shall perish.
• No one can snatch them out of his hand.
• The Father, who's greater than all, holds us in his hand as well, and no one can snatch them out of his hand either. The best explanation I’ve heard of this is that Jesus is in the Father’s hand, and we’re in Jesus’ hand. Notice that all of us have been given to Jesus from the Father. We're the Father’s presents to the Son.
And then we see one of the most shocking statements ever uttered by human lips. Jesus said “I and the Father are one.” They’re one in purpose, one in agenda, and one in nature. We’ll get into this next month when we discuss the nature of Christ, but for now, let’s just understand that whatever the Father is in his nature, Jesus is.
So what does this mean to you and me? We're doubly protected. We’re in Jesus’ hand, and Jesus is in the Father’s hand. Someone might say “Well, Satan can’t snatch you out of his hand, but maybe you can jump out.” When Jesus said no one can snatch me out of his hand, he included me in that list. I’m forever safe and secure, and I'll never perish. I can count on that.
Lord Jesus, thank you so much for the security I have in you. No matter how little I deserve it, you claim me as one of your own, both now and forever. Help me to show that.