The verses about Jesus’ sheep in today’s reading make a connection with the first half of the chapter. We will come back to these verses in a moment. There are further themes of John’s gospel here too, the hostility of the Jews, the relationship between Jesus and his Father, and the constant question of who exactly Jesus is.
The Jews show their hostility by picking up stones to stone him, but Jesus challenges them to explain his miracles, which must have a divine origin. They are clear about one thing that Jesus claims to be God. His words ‘I and the Father are one’ point to that conclusion. People sometimes say that Jesus never claimed to be God, but these verses challenge that. Even his enemies understood him to be claiming that. They accused him of blasphemy because of it, what else does ‘I and the Father are one’ mean? Regarding the charge of blasphemy Jesus challenges their understanding of their own scriptures, and although they try to seize him he evades capture.
Let’s come back to verses v27-29. If we have truly put our faith in Jesus who died for us then he calls us his sheep. He laid down his life for us, as he promised he would in yesterday’s reading. We are the Father’s gift to his Son v29 and he knows who we are v27. We listen to him and we follow v27. We go in and out and find pasture v9. He gives us eternal life which will not be taken away from us. We remain secure in the good hands of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
‘The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.’ (David)