Summary: Jesus divides the believers from the unbelievers to show that He never loses sight of His own sheep and He will see them safely through all the way to the end.
John’s gospel is written so that we may believe on Jesus and the miracles are most important. He lists several and then says the world isn’t big enough to hold the books it would take to have them all written down. The miracles are evidence of His deity and they testify about Him that He is from the Father.
At the beginning of this story it was asked whether this man or his parents had sinned, but Jesus said it was neither; he was born blind so that God could be glorified. Now we might wonder how God could possibly be glorified in such a way but then Jesus heals him and he can see! That’s pretty amazing; glory to God. But then, instead of jumping straight to Lazarus, there’s a bunch of dialogue. Why is all that here? How does it glorify God?
There was a division therefore again among the Jews for these sayings.
You see, many of the Jews didn’t believe. The healed man believes and worships (9:39). This miracle is more than the healing; God is glorified in that He calls all of His sheep without fail. They all hear His voice and follow, and everyone who does not come is not His.
20And many of them said, He hath a devil, and is mad; why hear ye him? 21Others said, These are not the words of him that hath a devil. Can a devil open the eyes of the blind?
And so we see this natural division occulting between them. Those who believe stand on one side while those who don’t stand on the other (picture the separation of the sheep and the goats). Some say He’s just crazy, but He’s done lots of miracles so others say He’s demon-possessed. But there are still some who say neither is true. He’s doing miracles that a devil couldn’t do and they want to hear more from Him.
The responses are just what we’d expect after hearing that wicked men hate the Light while righteous men love it. Some want to demonize Him and snuff out the light while others are drawn to Him and want to know more.
22And it was at Jerusalem the feast of the dedication, and it was winter. 23And Jesus walked in the temple in Solomon’s porch.
You might also know this feast as Hanukkah. The Jews didn’t start celebrating it until about 165 BC after a Jewish army threw their pagan oppressors out and purified and rededicated the temple. So this isn’t one of the Levitical feasts, but the Jews celebrated it and still do.
They are all in this one place and the Jews use the occasion to ask a question He’s already answered before:
24Then came the Jews round about him, and said unto him, How long dost thou make us to doubt? If thou be the Christ, tell us plainly. 25Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believed not: the works that I do in my Father’s name, they bear witness of me.
They want Him to say outright that He is the Messiah or He isn’t; no more parables or hidden meanings. But He’s already told them and shown them and they haven’t believed. He’s even been so plain they’ve wanted to kill Him! But they refuse to go along with it so Jesus simply refers them to His works.
26But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you.
Picture Him looking at one half of the crowd. They don’t believe, and here’s why: He is not their Shepherd and they’re not His sheep. He can tell them the same thing 1,000 times and perform every miracle of Moses and still they wouldn’t believe. Even when God speaks from heaven they refuse. They are just like their fathers who came out of Egypt and saw all the miracles and still complained. They have no faith and they will die in their sins.
But then He turns to the other half of the crowd:
27My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: 28And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. 29My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. 30I and my Father are one.
In saying all this He once again answers their question. These claims are a testimony to His deity! Look at what He does:
…He calls His sheep because He is the Good Shepherd.
…He knows His sheep them from beforehand because He was with God in the beginning.
…He leads His sheep in and out because He is their protector and provider.