Gospel: John 10: 22-30 (Easter 4: Series C)
Jesus makes two extraordinary claims in this text. One has to do with His relationship to the Father. The other has to do with His relationship to His followers. The preacher on this text would do well to recognize the magnitude of these two claims, and then choose one (or both) to proclaim without apology or reservation.
Let us take the second claim first. “I and the Father are one,” Jesus said in verse 30. His hand is as good as the Father’s hand, and equally secure (verses 28-29). The Jews recognized the audacity of what He was saying, which is why they picked up stones (verse 31). Here was a man making Himself God (ποιεῖς σεαυτὸv θεόν). Such a person is either dangerous or crazy, and deserving of death. They were not able to do the job this time. But before Pilate, in John 19:7, they tried again: “We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die because he has made himself the Son of God” (υἱὸν θεοῦ ἑαυτὸν ἐποίησεν). That time they got their way.
It is possible today, especially for established Christians, to lose touch with the consequence of Jesus’ claim. Sometimes we think of Jesus as too much our brother, or peer, or teacher. He is these things, of course. But also, much more. He is one with the Father, the eternal Lord and Ruler over all things.
The evidence is Easter, of course. Had Jesus not risen, this claim would have faded as any other self-proclaimed messianic. But we are still in the season of Easter, and Jesus is still risen. Which means He was not crazy (Dangerous, on the other hand, still applies—especially for those who do not listen to Him).
If possible, Jesus’ second claim in this text is equally astounding. It concerns His relationship with His followers. To those who hear His voice and follow Him, Jesus said He gives eternal life. They will never perish. This is truly incredible, for everyone dies. It is simply a fact. To suggest that those who follow Jesus will not perish is as absurd as His claim to be one with the Father.
Here again, Easter is His vindication. Before you can give eternal life, you must have it. In His resurrection Jesus showed He has it. Not even death can take it from Him. Which is what makes His promise of security so comforting. “No one will snatch (ἁρπάσει) them out of my hand,” He says of those who follow Him. Not even the wolf (verse 12). To be in the hands of the risen one, the one who is one with the Father, is to be safe and secure for all eternity. It is hard to imagine a more comforting promise.
The fourth Sunday in Easter is a time to explore the metaphor of Jesus as the Good Shepherd. His two claims in this text, justified by His resurrection, show how Jesus is unlike any other shepherd in both character and ability. He is one with the Father, willing and able to give us eternal life. Proclaim this truth, preacher! He is able to protect us against any enemy. Proclaim this promise, preacher! Then, encourage your fellow sheep to go forth without fear or hesitation, faithfully living and loving in the mold of their Good Shepherd
Concordia Theology-Various helps from Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, MO to assist you in preaching John 10:22-30.
Text Week-A treasury of resources from various traditions to help you preach John 10:22-30.