Summary: God’s divine Messiah thrills his sheep.
During the last few months we have followed Jesus around Jerusalem as he interacts with a variety of people, especially confounding his enemies. Jesus often taught by a kind of paradox — a fact which I have sought to convey (in part) by the sermon titles. In John 8, Jesus showed us that “Not all who die, die.” Then he healed a blind man and made the miracle into a parable by noting, “Not all who see, see” (John 9). Last week Jesus confronted pastors who failed God’s people, and we learned: “Not all who shepherd, shepherd” (John 10). And we have found more than once that “Not all who believe, believe.”
This morning ends our study of Jesus’ public ministry. For three years he has traveled through Israel, healing, preaching, confronting, discipling, touching, blessing — demonstrating himself to be Messiah with hundreds of miracles and countless acts of mercy, proving his deity by his unique works and from God’s inspired Word. Sadly, however, his own people reject him and they will kill the one who came to save. We see why as we read in John 10. [Read John 10.22-42. Pray.]
Biblical preaching must meet different needs depending on the hearer. True Christians need frequent encouragement and steady assurances of salvation. Life is difficult and we are easily overcome by the weaknesses of the flesh, the sins which so easily entangle, and an enemy who seeks our destruction. Hope and confidence leak from our lives like the helium from last week’s birthday balloons, and we find ourselves deflated and flaccid rather than strong and courageous.
At the same time, many professors of religion are just that — they profess to follow God, but their lives insist otherwise. They claim Jesus as Lord and the Bible as their guide, but they have no life in them.
In the early 1900s, journalist Finley Peter Dunne said, “The job of the newspaper is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.” I’m not sure from whom he borrowed that line, but pastors have known it for centuries. The comfortable must be wakened to their danger, while the fearful and doubting need the calming voice of the divine Savior. Jesus carefully covers both.
To his own, Jesus preaches the causes and certainty of eternal security: “Those to whom I give spiritual life will never perish, because no one can pry my mighty hand lose from their lives.” (Some Christians use the slogan, “Once saved, always saved,” to summarize this Biblical doctrine, but that may not be as clear and accurate as we can be.) Properly titled, “The Perseverance of the Saints, this bright truth shines from countless pages of Scripture and warms the soul as it reminds us that our hope is not in our flagging efforts but in God’s infinite power to save and sanctify.
Jesus also (in this text) sharply reproves the Jews who refuse to believe. Glorious truths which should thrill the soul instead quickens their anger.
At the T4G Conference, John MacArthur preached for an hour on “Total Depravity.” MacArthur is not as passionate in form as John Piper, nor as animated as C. J. Mahaney. He eschews all gimmicks, preferring plain preaching which is careful, doctrinal, and exegetical. Additionally, his topic was no lobbed softball. I dare say that few of you are ready to hold an audiences’ attention by describing the depth of sin which deadens the soul and damns us to hell forever. But at his conclusion, 5000 men applauded. Why? Because the truth of depravity drives us to Jesus, and that always delights the soul of those who hear his voice.
The gospel is the good news that God has come to save his people. But truth has implications, and the gospel implies two profound conclusions. First, we must be more evil than we would ever dare imagine (since God himself must save); and second, you must be more loved than you would ever dare hope (for God has saved). The offense of the gospel is that you cannot get to God’s love until and unless you embrace your need. For those with faith and humility to do so, the deity of Christ is good news indeed. That explains why…
1. God As Messiah Encourages True Believers (John 10.22-30)
The Jewish leaders pretended an desire to know the truth when they demanded, “If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.” Of course, Jesus had previously told them, plainly. In fact, he told them both in words and in works. The Old Testament prophets predicted Messiah would open these eyes of the blind, heal the lame, give hearing to the deaf, cleanse lepers, raise the dead, and preach good news to the poor. Jesus did all of these, and these all bear witness that God has become man to live and die. Those who entrust their lives to this Messiah find great encouragement from the fact that he is one with the Father, that he is God in human form.