Summary: During Lent we look at our hearts and ask God to cleanse and refresh us in our walk with Him. As we do so, God speaks to us and draws us near to Him. What was on Jesus' mind as he drew near to the cross?
March 14, 2021 Sermon - John 10:27-39
We are drawing nearer each week to the cross. We’ve been on this Lenten journey together since Ash Wednesday, and many of us have been connecting each day through our Daily Lenten Devotional videos. If you’ve joined us for those daily reflections you have heard a lot of Scripture being read, passages that lead up to the cross, as well as thoughtful reflections by members of our church community.
And so, yes, we are drawing closer to the cross, to Good Friday where we remember our Saviour giving His life for you and for me. And today we’ve heard read some of the final teachings of Jesus, who knew of course that these would be among His final words in the last days of His earthly ministry.
So what does he say as He Himself is drawing near to His suffering, His agony, that ultimate expression of His love for you and for all of humanity that he demonstrated on the cross. I encourage you to hear these words as He intends you to hear them...He who was God-in-the-flesh, who knew that you would be following Him today, Who knew you would be listening to His Word today, Who, being God, directs these Words from His holy Word, the Bible, to you this day, March 14, 2021.
What does He say to you today? He says:
“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no-one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no-one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand”.
I gather that some or all watching this service, participating in this gathering today, need to hear this. When God speaks, those who are His sheep listen. Those who are His recognize His loving voice. There is a mutual knowing between shepherd and sheep.
The shepherd knows each sheep by name, knows them from birth, knows all their trials, knows what makes them unique and recognizable among all the others.
You see the shepherd was there at your birth. At your physical birth after he knit you together so lovingly and delicately in your mother’s womb; and he was present at your spiritual birth, that moment, whenever it was, when you said “Yes!” to Jesus. That moment when you first believed the gospel of God’s grace...when you realized that Jesus Christ loved you so much that he died for your sins, that He willingly laid down everything to give you the gift of salvation.
There’s a mutual knowing between shepherd and sheep. But whereas the shepherd absolutely knows each of us, we are learning to listen to His voice together as a church community.
How do you listen? Do you always find it super easy to hear God’s voice? On some days I hear pretty good. On other days honestly I don’t so I rely on Pastor Arleen, or Darlene or Joanne or Marjorie or another sister or brother to hear and express the voice of Jesus. The point is we listen together, and we grow together.
We are learning, but we listen to His voice and we follow Him. We are learning to follow Jesus and we are learning to depend on the Holy Spirit in the journey.
Jesus says: “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no-one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no-one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand”.
And this promise follows here. Jesus gives us eternal life. And he promises that in Him we shall never perish, we shall never be snatched out of His hand, no one will ever snatch us out of the hand of God the Father or of God the Son. Together, working in unity with the Holy Spirit, they secure our standing with God.
Have you ever wondered about where you stand with God? Have you made mistakes and then judged yourself so severely that you raised questions in your own mind about your salvation? If that’s you, you’re not alone. Very few followers of Jesus have not at some point done this. And so we worry and we fret about where we stand with the Almighty.
But this passage...when we take it to heart, what truth does it lead us to? Simply this: we are safe in the hands of Jesus as we walk with Him, even as we stumble when we walk, because as a sheep may stumble in a gopher hole or even fall into a ditch - sheep are particularly helpless when they fall into a ditch - the shepherd is with us always to lift us out of the valley we may be in.