St. John's & Zion Lutheran Churches

Safe In The Arms Of Jesus

Sermon on John 10:22-30

Text: Then came the Feast of Dedication at Jerusalem.  It was winter, and Jesus was in the temple area walking in Solomon’s Colonnade.  The Jews gathered around him, saying, “How long will you keep us in suspense?  If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.”

     Jesus answered, “I did tell you, but you do not believe.  The miracles I do in my Father’s name speak for me, but you do not believe because you are not my sheep.  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 can 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 and the Father are one.”

     It was a dark and stormy night.  The lightning flashed and the thunder crashed.  Out of the darkness, a child’s voice rang out, “Mommy!”  The mother woke from her sleep, went into the child’s room to see what was the matter.  The little one told of the fear that the storm had caused.  The mother took that child in her arms and held on tightly.  Comforted by mother’s loving arms, the child fell asleep.  Scenes like this are played out in many different ways every night.  The child falls asleep in the loving arms of their parent.  Sometimes, you and I are also called to go through some stormy periods of life.  What a comfort it is to know that our Resurrected Jesus is close by and holds us close to himself.  This morning, as we study God’s Word, we are reminded of the safety that is ours.  We are SAFE IN THE ARMS OF JESUS: 1. Safe, Because He Is Our Good Shepherd; 2. Safe, Because He Gives Us Eternal Life; and 3. Safe, Because He And The Father Are One In Caring For Us.

     Jesus spoke the words of our text at the Festival of Dedication at the temple.  This ceremony was held to commemorate the cleansing of the temple that took place between the Old and New Testament times.  Jesus was in the temple area called Solomon’s Colonnade, when the Jewish leaders came up to him, surrounded him, and said, “How long will you keep us in suspense?  If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.”  They acted as if their very lives depended on the answer to this question.  In reality, they were not looking for an answer, but a reason to accuse Jesus.

     Seeing through their plan, Jesus answered, “I did tell you, but you do not believe.  The miracles I do in my Father’s name speak for me, but you do not believe.”  That was the problem, right there.  They did not believe.  Therefore, they would not accept any of the testimony given by these miracles.

     Jesus, then, adds the phrase, “because you are not my sheep.”  The picture of Jesus as the Shepherd and his followers as the sheep is a familiar and beloved one.  The tenth chapter of John is often called the Good Shepherd chapter.  What is interesting is the fact that the first part of the chapter was spoken two months prior to our text.  There Jesus had used phrases like, “I am the good shepherd.”  Now, two months later, Jesus again uses the picture of a shepherd and his sheep to show the closeness that exists.

     Jesus said in verse 27, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.”  There is great comfort in this verse for the Christian as they go from one day to the next.  Jesus said, “My sheep listen to my voice.”  This is more than just some sound waves moving our ear drums.  This is not just hearing.  It is listening.  It is an obedient listening.  It is a following of the Shepherd’s commands.  Jesus continues by saying, “I know them.”  What a wonderful thing to be reminded of, especially when we might sometimes feel like no more than a number on a page.  Jesus knows you personally.  He knows what is happening to you.  He knows the tough times you may be facing.  He knows when the way is dark or rough.  He knows you and cares for you personally.  Even if it seems as though all have deserted you and no one cares, Jesus, your Good Shepherd does.  As your Good Shepherd, you can count on him to take care of you.  David speaks with that same confidence in Psalm 23, “He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters . . . Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”

     Because our Good Shepherd knows us, his sheep, we follow him obediently and willingly.  Even when the path seems dark and rough, we feel safe in Jesus= arms, because he is our good shepherd.  What wonderful comfort our God gives us, reminding us that Jesus is our Good Shepherd, who takes care of his sheep.

     Jesus further reminds us of the comfort that is ours as we read verse 28, “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.”  Jesus gives eternal life.  This is not what we, his wandering sheep, deserved.  We stray by following our own ways, instead of God’s ways.  When we  sin by what we say or do or think, we have wandered from God and have become easy prey for the roaring lion, the devil, who would like nothing more than to devour us.  However, as Jesus tells us just prior to our text, “I am the good shepherd.  The good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep.”  In order to save us, Jesus, our Good Shepherd not only was willing to, but actually laid down his life for the sheep.  When Jesus died, he died for all people.  He died to pay for all sin.  His life had to be sacrificed so that our lives might be saved.

     However, our Shepherd did not stay dead.  He rose again.  As our Good Shepherd, he gives eternal life to all who believe in him.  He said that “they should never perish.”  Even if our eyes should close in death before Jesus returns, we will not perish.  We will live forever.  Our souls will be taken to heaven when we will be with Jesus until he returns on the Last Day and our souls and bodies will be reunited.  Then we, both soul and body, will enjoy heaven.

     Jesus speaks of the security of this eternal life as he said, “no one can snatch them out of my hand.”  Nothing, no one can ever take us from our Shepherd’s hand.  Not even the devil, no matter how hard he may try, can take us from our Savior’s hand.  No one has the power to snatch the believer from his protecting hand.  As a matter of fact, the only way that one can go astray is if they reject that saving hand.  What a great comfort as we go through this life to know that we are safe in Jesus’ arms, safe because he has given us eternal life.

     To further reassure us, Jesus also tells us, “My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.  I and the Father are one.”  Jesus uses the same picture that no one can snatch us from our Father’s hand, either.  In the work of caring for the sheep, the Father and the Son are united.  To try and snatch them out of Jesus’ hand is to try and snatch them out of the Father’s hand.  As the Father is greater than all, this would be impossible.  Jesus and his Father are united in their plan and purpose for us.  Jesus said, very plainly, “I and the Father are one.”

     Could Jesus have answered any more plainly the demand of the Jews: “If you are the Christ, tell us plainly”?  The Jews did understand that Jesus was calling himself the Christ, the Son of God, for afterward, we read that they took up stones to stone him.  They felt that Jesus was blaspheming in calling himself God.  That is because they refused to believe what Jesus was saying to them.  The Messiah, the Christ was there, standing right in front of them, wanting to give them the security of salvation, but they refused to believe it.

     Jesus said very clearly that he is true God.  This flies in the face of what some larger church bodies today teach.  Here we might think of Jehovah’s Witnesses or the Mormon Church.  Jehovah’s Witnesses teach that Jesus is only an exalted heavenly being.  The Mormons would say that Jesus is but one of many spirit children, who have worked their way into salvation.  Yet, Jesus says very clearly that he and the Father are one.  They are unified.  They are together.  They are one God.  What the Father wants, the Son wants, as well as the Holy Spirit.  There is but one God, yet there are three Persons in that Godhead.  Because everything they do is in unison, they all work together, and we are safe.  God – the Father, Son and Holy Spirit – are one in caring for us.  The Creator of the universe cares for you and wants to take care of you.  What a great source of security we have as believers in Jesus Christ.

     People find many things in life that make them feel secure.  If they have enough money in the bank account, they feel that they can weather any storm.  Some find security in locks and alarm systems in their houses or vehicles.  No matter how wonderful these things are, they can fail.  Even the best security system is no match for the truly determined criminal.  However, there is one security system that can never fail.  That security system is being safe in Jesus’ arms.  We are truly safe, because Jesus is our Good Shepherd, because he gives us eternal life and because he and the Father are one in protecting us.  This confidence leads us to face each new day because we know our Good Shepherd and all that he has done for us.  This confidence leads us to say, “Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.”