John 10 Part 2: More About Sheep And Shepherds: Israel’s True Leader Vs The False Leaders

We come into this world far from God, ignorant and confused about the most basic and the most important things. It’s natural for people to gravitate to those who have more knowledge or experience in various areas of human endeavor. It’s absolutely crucial to choose the right leaders, especially in the most important area of human endeavor – seeking God. Good spiritual leaders bring blessings to us in this world followed by eternal blessing in the World To Come. Bad leaders, especially bad religious leaders, can be devastating to our lives in this world and damning on the Day of Judgment.

This part of John 10 follows the great miracle of the healing of the man who was born blind, and continues Yeshua’s interaction with some of the religious leaders of the Chosen People. Most of them had already decided that Yeshua was a false prophet. And they wanted to kill the young Rabbi from Nazareth. They wanted the Jewish people to follow them, not Yeshua.

A true friend will confront you when you are wrong. Deceitful are the kisses of an enemy. Faithful are the wounds of a friend. For His part, Yeshua was a friend to these men, and so He warned them, again using an illustration from sheep and shepherds, that they were very wrong and needed to reconsider their thinking about Him and about themselves.

John organized his book using the Jewish holidays. This next part takes place at Chanukkah. It’s another confrontation between Yeshua and some Jewish leaders. Then came the Holiday of Dedication (Chanukkah means Dedication) at Jerusalem. It was winter, and Yeshua was in the temple courts walking in Solomon’s Colonnade. The Jewish leaders who were there gathered around Him, saying, “How long will You keep us in suspense? If You are the Messiah, tell us plainly.”

Fallen human nature is funny when it comes to truth. If you don’t get the answer you want the first time, ignore the answer, and try again later. Maybe the answer will change to the one you want. But when it comes to the truth about Yeshua, the answer will never change. Yeshua answered, “I did tell you, but you do not believe. At various times, and in many ways, Yeshua had been telling the nation of Israel, particularly the leaders, that He was the long-awaited Messiah, God’s Anointed Prophet, Priest, King and Savior; and that He was the Son of God.

Even though He had already told them who He is, He graciously told them once again; and He gave them some evidence to help them believe He is the Messiah. The works I do in My Father’s name testify about Me. Ordinary human beings don’t do miracles. Normally, God will only allow someone who is very close to Him to do a miracle. And even among the Chosen People, only a few prophets in Israel’s long history ever did miracles – Moses and Joshua, Elijah and Elisha and a few others – and Yeshua’s miracles exceeded them all.

He turned water into wine; healed many who were sick; healed the son of a royal official; a centurion’s servant; Peter’s mother-in-law; a man who was an invalid and a man who was paralyzed; two men who were blind; another man who was born blind. He restored the sight of Bartimaeus; healed a man who was unable to speak; healed a man’s withered hand; healed a woman who had been sick for 12 years; healed the ear that was cut off from the servant of the high priest; healed those who had leprosy; removed evil spirits from many; sent an army of demons into a herd of pigs; withered a fig tree; was involved in two miraculous catches of fish; was involved in catching a fish that paid the temple tax; fed 5,000 from a few loaves of bread and some fish; fed 4,000 from a few loaves of bread and some fish; stilled the winds and waves with a word; walked on water; raised the son of a woman in Nain from the dead; raised the daughter of Yair back to life; raised Lazarus from the dead; and was Himself raised from the dead.

The miracles of Yeshua are real. They are unprecedented in number and in greatness. They let the world know that Yeshua has God’s approval and is who He claimed to be – the Messiah and the Son of God. If You are the Messiah, tell us plainly … I did tell you, but you do not believe. The works I do in My Father’s name testify about Me. Why couldn’t the leaders of the Chosen People, the men who should have known God the best and understood the most – why couldn’t they recognize the Messiah when He came, and did so many miracles?

Yeshua knew the answer: they were not God’s people. Only a remnant of human beings are God’s people. Only a remnant, even within the special nation of Israel, are God’s chosen ones. Not all Israel are Israel. Only those who are truly God’s people have a nature that is in sync with God and know God the Father, and know the Son of God. Only God’s people can recognize that Yeshua is the true leader of God’s people. But you do not believe because you are not My sheep. These men, even though they were the spiritual leaders of Israel, and knew a lot about God and about the Bible, were far from God and didn’t belong to the Messiah.

Just as parents know their children and children know their parents, and masters know their dogs and dogs their masters, and shepherds know their sheep and sheep know their shepherds, the Messiah knows the people who belong to Him, and they know Him. My sheep listen to My voice; I know them, and they follow Me. There is to be is a sense of closeness, connectedness, a sense of intimate personal relationship and fellowship between Yeshua and each one of His followers that enables them to be aware of Him and what He is saying to them. Christianity, Messianic Judaism, is more than knowing the right teachings. That’s necessary, but good doctrine must be accompanied by a sense of knowing and sharing and communication between us and the Son of God.

There is something within us that wants to be part of the inner circle, close to the source of knowledge and power. That makes us feel important, and feel good about ourselves. One of the things that makes Yeshua the best leader is that He is accessible to each one of His people. Each one of us has direct access to the One who is the ultimate source of knowledge and power.

And there’s more. Leaders provide for the needs of their people. Yeshua is a good leader because He provides His followers with life and with protection – and not just any kind of life and any kind of protection – the best kind of life and the best kind of protection. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of My hand. Yeshua is the Son of God, and He has eternal life within Himself. And, out of that eternal life within Himself, He gives eternal life to His followers. And, then He protects them and their eternal lives so that they never perish. And who is more powerful than the Son of God, who created the universe and everything in it, who sustains the universe and everything in it, and is Lord of the universe and everything in it? Who can snatch us out of the hand of the Son of God? A fallen angel? A fallen man or woman?

And there’s more. A good leaders will often have a powerful ally. Our leader has the most powerful ally. It’s not just the Son of God who is protecting His followers. So is His ally. 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.”

Several things to note:

The Father and the Son are distinct and separate persons. The Son is not the Father and the Father is not the Son. They are distinct persons but at the same time They are one. They are one in purpose. The Father and Son share the same goals. And They are one in nature. They share the same divine nature and the same divine Spirit.

The Father and the Son are distinct persons, who are united in purpose, in nature, in Spirit; but God the Father is greater than the Son – in authority. The Father is supreme in authority. The Father, the High King of Heaven, sits on the main throne in Heaven. The Son of God sits on another throne at the right hand of God the Father. No one, not even King Messiah, the Son of the High King, has the authority that the Father has. My Father is greater than all.

And the One who is supremely authoritative over every force, every creature, every principality and power is allied with the Son, protecting those human beings that belong to the Son, making sure that the eternal life that the Son gives them at the moment of salvation, will never be taken from them. No one can snatch them out of My Father’s hand. Knowing this should makes us feel safe, secure, protected, at peace.

Another thought: My Father has given them to Me: God the Father gives some human beings, but not all human beings, to Yeshua. Those special ones, chosen before the world began, are a precious gift from the Father to the Son. Because they are made in the image of God, they are inherently valuable.

They have tremendous worth. Flawed though they are right now, they are nevertheless a priceless treasure. They have been chosen, redeemed and have become the beloved sons and daughters of God, the eternal friends and companions of the great Creator God. This is who you are. This is your identity. Knowing this should give you a sense of worth, of value, and make you feel good about yourself. When you love someone, you want to give the one you love, gifts. Giving gifts is one way that love expresses itself. The Father loves the Son and has given to the Son the most precious things the Father possesses – us.

These statements were true and they were powerful. And they were courageous. The Jewish leaders had already decided to kill Yeshua. It took tremendous courage, Chanukkah kind of courage, Maccabee kind of courage, for Yeshua to go into this lions’ den, to the capital and to the temple, which was the center of power of the Jewish leaders, and declare these truths.

After hearing Yeshua make these claims about Himself, and criticize them, the leaders were infuriated. Their desire to kill Yeshua was instantly reignited. Again His Jewish opponents picked up stones to stone Him.

Under Jewish law, if someone was thought to be guilty of a crime, charges needed to be brought against him and there had to be a fair trial. The accused had to be found guilty of committing a crime. Yeshua tried to prevent these leaders from violating this process, and killing an innocent man and sinning even more.

Yeshua tried to defuse the situation. He tried to reason with them. He responded to their desire to kill Him with a question designed to help them reexamine their erroneous thoughts about Him. But Yeshua said to them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these do you stone Me?”

Obviously, we don’t kill people for doing good deeds that God empowered them to do. Yeshua was trying to help them see that their decision to stone Him was inconsistent with the truth. He was trying to help them see that He had not done anything wrong. He had not sinned against anyone. He had not hurt anyone. He had only done good things that God authorized Him to do. Therefore they had no right to kill Him.

They disagreed. They knew Yeshua had done something so wrong that it was right to kill Him then and there. “We are not stoning You for any good work,” they replied, “but for blasphemy, because You, a mere man, claim to be God.” And in one way, they were right: Yeshua’s statements were claims that He is God – not God the Father, but deity, divinity; that Yeshua was Immanuel – God With Us. What were those claims?

That He is the Messiah; that God was empowering Him to do miracles, which proved that He is the Messiah; that He is the rightful leader of the Jewish people; that it was right that more and more Jewish people were recognizing His leadership; that God the Father is the one who gave Him His followers; that He is able to give His followers eternal life; that He is the second greatest power in the universe and able to protect the eternal life He gives His disciples; that God the Father is His ally and is working with Yeshua to protect the eternal life of His followers; that God is His Father and He is God’s unique Son; that God the Father and Yeshua the Son are one – united in purpose and nature.

The Jewish leaders were right. Yeshua was claiming to be deity, divinity, God. But they were wrong that His claims were blasphemous lies that were dishonoring to God.

Again, He tried to reason with them, arguing that it was not a crime for Him to claim to be the Son of God. Yeshua answered them, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I have said you are “gods”’ (eloheem)? This is a quote from Psalm 82. The gods refer to human leaders. These powerful men were strong, which is the root idea of eloheem in Hebrew. If He called them ‘gods,’ to whom the word of God came – and Scripture cannot be set aside – what about the one whom the Father set apart as His very own and sent into the world? Why then do you accuse Me of blasphemy because I said, ‘I am God’s Son’?

Here is Yeshua’s argument: If leaders like the ones referred to in Psalm 82 can be called gods, and they were flawed human beings, can’t Yeshua claim to be the Son of God? Especially since He is a perfect, sinless human being, and the unique Son of God, sent by God the Father on a great mission to save the eloheem who were unrighteous sinners? The answer of course is yes. Yeshua had the right to claim to be deity, to call Himself the special Son of God.

Yeshua made two other, extremely important points here, teachings which must be at the core of our faith:

The Bible is the Word of God.

Every word of the Bible is true.

Psalm 82 records what God said to human beings. He (God the Father) called them (flawed human beings) ‘gods,’ to whom the word of God came – and Scripture cannot be set aside. God the Father called sinful human beings eloheem – gods. What God said to them is the word of God. Yeshua acknowledged those words from Psalm 82 as being the word of God.

And it is not just those words in Psalm 82 that are the Word of God. The entire Bible is “Scripture” and every word of Scripture is a divinely inspired word of God, and accurate and true and trustworthy and cannot be set aside.

How do we know this? Yeshua based His argument on one word – eloheem, and that eloheem was applied to fallen human beings, and therefore He had the right to call Himself the Son of God.

The Son of God is telling us that we don’t have the right to set aside even one word in Holy Scriptures. We don’t have the right to say: “It’s not right to call human beings eloheem. That doesn’t line up with my theology. It must be a mistake. I am going to set that aside. I am going to ignore that.” No, no, no!

Yeshua is teaching us something crucial, something very important that we must believe about the Bible: that Scripture, not just the Bible as a whole, but each and every individual word of Scripture, is divinely inspired, true, accurate, trustworthy, reliable, infallible. Not one word of the Bible can be ignored, dismissed, considered to be erroneous and set aside.

Again, Yeshua appealed to them to reconsider their erroneous thinking about Him. Actions speak louder than words. God had allowed Him to do miracles. His miracles, unprecedented in number and greatness, were evidence that Yeshua is who He claimed to be – the Messiah and the Son of God, approved by God, very close to God. Do not believe Me unless I do the works of My Father. But if I do them, even though you do not believe Me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in Me, and I in the Father.”

Yeshua’s reasons, arguments, appeals, fell on deaf ears. Again they tried to seize Him, but He escaped their grasp. It wasn’t time for Yeshua to die. It was God’s plan for Messiah to die, not on Chanukkah, but on another Jewish holiday – Passover – and so God protected Him from those who were trying to kill Him. And we will be protected too, from dying a moment too soon.

In contrast to the unbelief and the rejection of the leaders, was the good response of the common people. John informed us that Yeshua left Jerusalem and headed east to the Jordan river, to the place where John the Baptist had impacted many. Then Yeshua went back across the Jordan to the place where John had been baptizing in the early days. There He stayed, and many people came to Him. They said, “Though John never performed a sign, all that John said about this man was true.”

And what had John said about Yeshua? The greatest man who had ever lived, who was filled with the Spirit of God before he was born, who, although he did no miracles was a prophet and more than a prophet; the one who was the special forerunner of the Messiah, testified that Yeshua was the Son of God who came from Heaven; that He was loved by God in the most special way; that He is the Messiah to whom God the Father gave the Spirit without limit; that Yeshua spoke the words of God; that the Father has placed all things for all time under the authority of Yeshua. This is what John said about Yeshua.

John had made a tremendous impact on the Jewish people. Many of the people believed in John, especially whose who were not leaders. And, they remembered what John said about Yeshua. And now were believing for themselves, because of their own knowledge of Yeshua, that everything that John said about Yeshua was right.

And in that place many believed in Yeshua. The leaders were wrong. The ordinary people, the non-leaders were right. Don’t think that leaders are always smarter than you are – political leaders or religious leaders.

And, claims about Himself and His criticisms of the leaders, and Yeshua’s increasing popularity, influence and leadership, will intensify the murderous intentions of the leaders even more, until they arrest Him and kill Him at Passover.

Let’s pray:

Thank You, Father, that for His part, Yeshua was a friend to those leaders, even though they hated Him, and so He warned them, and tried to reason with them and teach and correct them.

Thank You, Father, that Yeshua is our friend, and is committed to do the same with us. Help us to humble ourselves and receive His teaching and His correction.

Bless us with the same kind of boldness and courage that Yeshua had that Chanukkah in Jerusalem.

Thank You, Father, for the many great miracles of Yeshua, that let us know that You sent Yeshua; that You approve of Yeshua; and that He is the Messiah and the Son of God.

We acknowledge Father, that You have the right to choose some human beings for Your special purposes, and not others; and that the ones You choose are able to know You; that You give them a nature that is in sync with You, and You teach them and reveal Yeshua to them.

Thank You, Father, that we can have a sense of closeness, connectedness and fellowship with Messiah. Bless each one of us with that sense of intimate personal relationship with Him.

Thank You that each one of us has direct access to King Messiah, the Son of the High King of Heaven, and we can be part of Yeshua’s inner circle.

Thank You that You and Your Son are working to protect us and the eternal life Messiah gives us. Give us peace knowing that no force can remove us from Messiah’s hand, or Your hand.

Thank You that every word of the Bible is Scripture – holy and divinely inspired, and accurate and true and trustworthy and infallible and cannot be set aside. May that be our understanding and our attitude toward Your Word – now and forever.

Thank You that we can be smarter than our leaders – except for Yeshua, who is the best leader ever!