For several months now, the Pharisees have seen and heard rumours of Jesus and his miracles, with many people believing that he is the promised Messiah. However, the Pharisees could not fathom this; they had pictured the Messiah to be a political hero who would lead them in conquering the Roman empire, and Jesus certainly did not fit this image. They are beginning to see Jesus as a threat to the stability of their nation and their way of life. In the middle of John 10, the Pharisees seize an opportunity to confront him and trap him for blasphemy, for how can a mere man be "the Son of God?"
The scene begins with the Pharisees encircling Jesus and asking him: "If you are the Christ, tell us plainly." Jesus, aware of their motives, rebukes them, "I did tell you, but you do not believe. The works I do in my Father's name testify about me, but you do not believe because you are not my sheep." The Pharisees that encircled Jesus were certainly not his sheep. Although they knew the scriptures backward and forward, they did not know God. Instead, they manipulated God's words to gain worldly wealth, status and power. They were proud and self-seeking with hearts of stone. They made knowing God a legalistic chore rather than a joy for the Jewish people.
In reflecting on this passage, it struck me that I, at times, act like the Pharisees. For example, when God answers my prayers but not in the way I had hoped. I pray again, hoping for a different answer, only to hear God rebuke me with, "I told you, but you do not believe." Another example is when my career ambitions and desires dominate my life; do I not place God's will and his words into the background? I would think that most of us have found ourselves in these situations.
However, the significant difference between the Pharisees and us is that we know we are God's sheep. We know him and he knows us, we hear and listen to his voice, and we follow him. In the middle of this passage, God provides immense assurance to his sheep: that even when we mess up and fail, his unending faithfulness and the depth of his grace will never fail us. His promises are steadfast and true: "I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand."
In these uncertain times, may we rest in the assurance of his promises and find peace and comfort knowing that we are securely in God's hands and that we always will be, no matter what we do or what the circumstances may be.
Much loved wife and mom of three amazing kids (her husband's pretty cool too!)