John 10:24
So the Jews gathered around Him and demanded, "How long will You keep us in suspense? If You are the Christ, tell us plainly."
Sermons
The Explanation of UnbeliefJ.R. Thomson John 10:24-26
Answering the CallC. H. Spurgeon.John 10:24-39
Believers Must not Go Before ChristNewman Hall.John 10:24-39
Believers Need not Fear that They Shall PerishJohn 10:24-39
Christ Entitled to Divine HonoursJohn 10:24-39
Christ Knows Us ThoroughlyC. H. Spurgeon.John 10:24-39
Christ's Account of HimselfT. Whitelaw, D. D.John 10:24-39
Christ's SheepPulpit AnalystJohn 10:24-39
Christ's Two NaturesPulpit TreasuryJohn 10:24-39
Eternal LifeS. Martin.John 10:24-39
Final PerseveranceBp. Westcott.John 10:24-39
God an Impregnable RefugeR. Brewin.John 10:24-39
Life EternalC. H. Spurgeon.John 10:24-39
Religious ScepticismD. Thomas, D. D.John 10:24-39
The Almighty HandR. Brewin.John 10:24-39
The Divinity of ChristW. S. DewstoeJohn 10:24-39
The Divinity of ChristJohn 10:24-39
The Eternal Life of Christ's FlockE. V. Gerhart D. D.John 10:24-39
The Least Saints Shall not PerishJohn 10:24-39
The Oneness of Christ with the FatherCanon Liddon.John 10:24-39
The Order of ThoughtArchdeacon Watkins.John 10:24-39
The Safety of BelieversJohn 10:24-39
The Safety of the SaintsC. H. Spurgeon.John 10:24-39
The Safety of the SaintsJohn 10:24-39
The Safety of the SaintsMemoir of J. Janeway.John 10:24-39
The Safety of the SaintsJohn Stevenson., D. Thomas, D. D.John 10:24-39
The Scene and CircumstancesArchdeacon Farrar.John 10:24-39
The Security of BelieversC. Hodge, D. D.John 10:24-39
The Sheep and the ShepherdC. H. Spurgeon.John 10:24-39
The Sheep of ChristH. Cooke, D. D., W. H. Van Doren, D. D.John 10:24-39
The Test of PietyJohn 10:24-39
The Unity of GodAnecdotes on New Testament TextsJohn 10:24-39
The Unity of God to be BelievedJ. Trapp.John 10:24-39
The Works of the ChristC. J. Ridgeway, M. A.John 10:24-39
Jesus knew well what must be the end of such discussions as that here recorded. Irritation and hostility were increased. A growing number of the Jews committed themselves to the cause of Christ's adversaries. And the selfish reasons for their opposition were multiplied. Yet the Lord continued the controversies, knowing that the issue to which they needs must lead was one which was foreseen in the Divine counsels, and one which would be the means of bringing to pass his own benevolent designs. There was little attempt on his part at conciliation; he knew that any such attempt would be in vain.

I. UNBELIEF IS NOT TO BE JUSTIFIED ON THE GROUND OF DEFICIENCY OF EVIDENCE FOR FAITH. Jesus refers the Jews to two amply sufficient grounds for believing in him.

1. His own assertion, "I told you." The value of such an assertion depends upon the character of him who makes it. There are those whose statements concerning themselves are worthless; but, on the other hand, there are those whose statements carry immediate conviction to those who know them. Jesus always spoke the truth, and he could not be mistaken upon a point such as this, his own nature and mission.

2. His own works, done in his Father's Name. It was not questioned by the Lord's contemporaries that he wrought miracles. If they caviled at them, they attributed them to the power of darkness - an absurdity which was its own refutation. These signs and wonders, wrought by Jesus, have lost nothing of their significance by the lapse of time; whatever evidential value they had, when Jesus first appealed to them, they possess today. Their very character renders them an everlasting and ever-valid witness to him who wrought them. They can neither be denied nor misinterpreted.

II. THE EXPLANATION OF UNBELIEF LIES IN THE DEFICIENCY OF SPIRITUAL SYMPATHY. That there are honest and sincere unbelievers, is not questioned. But for the most part there is in those who reject Christ's claims a lack of that sympathy which assists in a just appreciation of the holy and benevolent Savior. Jesus spoke of the questioners and cavilers as "not of his sheep." They had not those dispositions of teachableness and humility which are conducive to Christian discipleship. Such a disposition as our Lord here attributes to his adversaries is most unfavorable to a fair judgment upon the claims and evidences which are found sufficient by many of the wisest and the most virtuous of men. Only Christ's own "sheep" know his voice, and distinguish it as the Divine voice from the voice of strangers. These only "follow" him, and accordingly have every opportunity of acquainting themselves with his character and the manifestations of his purposes.

III. IT IS THIS UNSYMPATHIZING UNBELIEF THAT LEADS MEN TO CALUMNIATE AND TO OPPOSE CHRIST. This chapter shows us how this principle acted in our Lord's days. We have but to observe what is passing around us, in order to explain upon the same principle the blasphemies and the violent opposition with which our Lord Christ is still assailed. - T.







Then came the Jews round about Him.
Here in this bright colonnade, decked for the feast with glittering trophies, Jesus was walking up and down, quietly, and apparently without companions, sometimes, perhaps, gazing across the valley of Kidron at the whited sepulchres of the prophets whom generations of Jews had slain, and enjoying the mild winter sunlight, when, as though by a preconcerted movement, the Pharisaic party and their leaders suddenly surrounded and began to question Him. Perhaps the very spot where He was walking, recalling as it did the memories of their ancient glory — perhaps the memories of the glad feast which they were celebrating, as the anniversary of a splendid deliverance wrought by a handful of brave men, who had overthrown a colossal tyranny — inspired their ardent appeal. "How long," they impatiently inquired, "dost Thou hold our souls in painful suspense? If Thou really art the Messiah, tell us with confidence. Tell us here, in Solomon's porch, now, while the sight of these shields and golden crowns, and the melody of these citherns and cymbals, recall the glory of Judas the Asmonaean — wilt thou be a mightier Maccabaeus, a more glorious Solomon? Shall these citrons and fair boughs and palms, which we carry in honour of this day's victory, be carried some day for Thee?" It was a strange, impetuous, impatient appeal, and is full of significance. It forms their own strong condemnation, for it shows distinctly that He had spoken words and done deeds which would have justified and substantiated such a claim had He chosen definitely to assert it. And if He had in so many words asserted it — in the sense which they required — it is probable that they would have instantly welcomed Him with tumultuous acclaim. The place where they were speaking recalled the most glorious scenes of their ancient monarchy; the occasion was rife with the heroic memories of one of their bravest and most successful warriors; the political conditions which surrounded them were exactly such as those from which the noble Asmonaean had delivered them. One spark of that ancient flame would have kindled their inflammable spirits into such a blaze of irresistible fanaticism as might for a time have swept away both the Romans and Herods. But the day for political deliverances was past; the day for a higher, deeper, wider deliverance had come. For the former they yearned; the latter they rejected. Passionate to claim in Jesus an exclusive temporal Messiah, they repelled Him with hatred as the Son of God, the Saviour of the world. That He was the Messiah in a sense far loftier and more spiritual than they had ever dreamed His language had again and again implied: but a Messiah in the sense they required He was not, and would not be. And therefore He does not mislead them by saying, "I am your Messiah," but He refers them to His repeated teaching, which showed how clearly such had been His claim, and to the works which bore witness to that claim. Had they been sheep of His flock, they would have heard His voice, and then He would have given them eternal life.

(Archdeacon Farrar.)

I. THE NATURE OF HIS CREDENTIALS.

1. His sayings. He had often told them who He was (ver. 25).

2. His miracles. These had been signs that they should have understood (vers. 25, 33).

3. His acceptance by the pious. Jehovah's flock and His own sheep had recognized Him; an indirect testimony that He was no imposter (ver. 27).

4. His ability to save. He could and did bestow eternal life on those who believed and followed Him (ver. 23).

II. THE DIGNITY OF HIS PERSON.

1. The Father's Commissioner (ver. 26).

2. The Father's Shepherd (ver. 29).

3. The Father's Son (ver. 36).

4. The Father's equal (vers. 30, 33). The Jews understood this (ver. 33).

III. THE VINDICATION OF HIS PRETENSIONS.

1. The charge preferred against Him. Blasphemy, in making out Himself, a man, to be God (ver. 33).

2. The punishment proposed for Him. Stoning, the penalty prescribed by the law for such offenders.

3. The answer returned by Him.(1) Scriptural — drawn from their own holy writings.(2) Logical. If God's Word called civic rulers "gods," it could not be blasphemy for God's Son to call Himself "Son of God."(3) Final. They could not reply to it except by violence; and He withdrew Himself beyond the reach of such machinations, Learn —

1. The sufficiency of the existing evidences for Christ and Christianity.

2. The irreconcilable antagonism between the unrenewed heart and Christ.

3. The ease with which objections and objectors to Christ can be answered.

4. The certainty that evil men can never achieve a final triumph over Christ.

(T. Whitelaw, D. D.)

I. IT DOES NOT LACK EVIDENCE (vers. 24, 25).

1. Christ's works were such as no mere man had ever performed or could ever accomplish — productions of Divine power, expressions of Divine benevolence.

2. If these in His day were sufficient evidence, how much more His moral works in Christendom since. For eighteen centuries they have been multiplying. To sceptics who say, How long are we to be held in doubt? we answer, If you are sincere in your inquiries, you need not be held in suspense a moment longer.

II. IT LACKS SYMPATHY WITH TRUTH (vers. 26, 27). This, and not lack of evidence, is the cause of scepticism. The Jew's sympathy was with the formulae and conventionalities of religion and not with the truth. The wish is evermore father of the thought. Men are atheists because they do not "like to retain" God in their thoughts — anti-Christians because they do not like Christ. He is too pure, too honest. Are men responsible for this lack of sympathy? As well ask, Are men responsible for being truthful, just, virtuous? Conscience is bound to answer in the affirmative.

III. IT EXPOSES TO ENORMOUS LOSS (ver. 23). This implies —

1. That they, the sceptics, would not have eternal life — goodness, freedom, perfection, joy — that the absence of which meant to "perish."

2. That they would not have eternal security. His sheep would be safe in His and the Father's hands from ruin and misery. But those who were not His sheep would be in a perilous condition.Conclusion: See here —

1. How hypocritical is scepticism. They professed to be in search of truth, whereas they only wanted a pretext to destroy truth.

2. How irrational is scepticism. It refuses to accept the most overwhelming evidence in favour of truth — the mighty and ever multiplying works of Christ.

3. How immoral is scepticism. It springs from the state of the heart — destitution of sympathy with Christ.

4. How egregiously foolish is scepticism. It risks eternal life and security.

(D. Thomas, D. D.)

We are dealing with the truth of the Divinity of the Christ, as it has been proclaimed by Christendom ever since the day when He lived and died on this earth. We are endeavouring to test the weight of evidence in favour of such a tremendous claim. And in order to do this effectually we are summoning certain witnesses before us that they may bear their testimony for or against it. The works of a man, like his character and words, are very eloquent. They speak for or against him. The works of the Christ. This, then, is our witness today. They are the works of One the beauty of whose character and words is acknowledged by all men whose judgment is worth having. "They bear witness of Me," says the Christ. What do they say? Do they justify or condemn, do they speak for or against Him?

I. And, first of all, we want to know WHAT THIS WITNESS IS. The works of the Christ are many and manifold. There are works of love, of sympathy, of mercy; there are works of wisdom, of power, of greatness; there are works of warning, of judgment, of condemnation. Which of these shall we summon as our witness today? No; our Lord Himself narrows the issue for us. He points to certain of His works and by them will be judged, "The works that I do in My Father's name." It is quite clear that He is speaking of His miracles. The miracles of the Christ! "Oh," some will say, "no one believes in miracles nowadays. If you have no ether witness but this your case must surely fall to the ground. Miracles do not happen!" Why is a miracle impossible? Hume denies the possibility of a miracle because "it is contrary to all experience." Mr. Mill, the greatest of modern logicians, shows theft after all this statement is really worth nothing. He tells us that it only means that you cannot prove a miracle to a person who does not believe in a Being with supernatural powers. If by all experience he literally means "all" he is simply begging the question. No one ever supposed for a moment that miracles have been experienced by all. The philosopher Rousseau tells us that objections to miracles from their improbability cannot reasonably be urged by any man who seriously believes in a living God. But others urge, a miracle is impossible because it is a violation of the laws of nature. But is it? Let us ask what is meant by violating nature's laws. What is a miracle? It is a lower law suspended by a higher. And who shall say this cannot be? To say so were to contradict daily experience. For instance, we can, we do continually counteract the great law of gravitation by a higher law. A miracle is impossible. No, not to any man who believes in a God at all. And we are taking this for granted. Very few deny it. Yea more, we live in a world of miracles. "We cannot see," writes James Hinton, who was at once a man of science and a philosopher, and they do not always go together, "that we walk in the midst of miracles, and draw in mysteries with every breath." A miracle is impossible. Nay, the miracles of the Christ are not a discredited witness: they are not impossible or improbable. On the contrary, miracles are natural and reasonable, and under certain circumstances they are to be expected. But, you say, were not His character and His words enough? Nay, they might be for us, but not for them. In those early days many among men knew but little of His character, and heard only a few of His words. There was need of other credentials in those days, plainer and more striking, to support the claim which Jesus made. We need them not. The miracles of the Christ were like the bells of the Church, that ring before the service begins, and call men by their music to come and worship. But the bells cease when the congregation has assembled and the act of worship commenced. And so we say that it was to be expected that a supernatural revelation, brought by a supernatural Teacher, should, in the absence of all earthly power and greatness, be accompanied by supernatural signs, to attest the truth of the Messenger and of the message He delivered unto men. If, then, these miracles are neither impossible nor improbable, what can we learn about the nature of the witness they give? First, then, I would have you bear in mind that they, too, like the other witnesses we have called, are well-authenticated facts. They are facts which His disciples believed in, and who were so likely to know as they? They are facts, for even His enemies admitted their reality. The Jews did not deny them. Secondly, the miracles of Christ are to be expected. They were the natural accompaniments of His mission of love, the embodiments of His character and words, in harmony with all else that we are told of Him. "They were perfectly natural and ordinary in Him, they were His δυναμεῖς, His powers or faculties, His capacities, just as sight and speech are ours." Thirdly, the miracles of the Christ are unique. No other religion was ever founded upon miracles, as is Christianity. "Whence, then, hath this Man this wisdom and these mighty works?" Christendom answers, "He is the Son of the Living God." Yea, Jesus Himself tells us, "The works which the Father hath given Me to accomplish, the very works that I do, bear witness of Me that the Father hath sent Me." But as in the first days of Christianity, so still men refuse to believe this. They offer us other solutions instead. Renan, for instance, says He deluded His disciples. Others tell us that the Christ was enabled to do His miracles by His greater know. ledge of the laws of science. But can we accept this solution? Or, again, we are told that these miracles are the outcome of the imagination of the disciples — that miracles were in the air, so to speak. Moreover, are we really entitled to take for granted, as do so many, that at the time the Gospels were written there was a predisposition in the minds of men to accept what was extraordinary? In his book on miracles Mr. Litton writes with considerable force, "No mistake is greater than to suppose that the period at which the Gospels appeared was favourable to imposture of this kind. It was an age of literature and philosophy, the diffusion of which was promoted by the union of the civilized world under one sceptre. In Palestine learning had especially taken the form of critical inquiries into the integrity and genuineness of ancient books." But there are others who accept the force of this reasoning, and say the miracles of the Christ are the creation of a later age. But, as has been well pointed out by the same writer, such a man must have been a forger surpassing all the world has ever known in cleverness. Once more, it is said that the results attributed to miraculous power were in reality brought about by the forces of His personal qualities. His strength of will, His beauty of character, His personal attraction, influenced men, and worked upon them wonderful cures. But even if it were so with the miracles of which men and women were the subjects, how will this account for the stilling of the storm or the withering of the fig tree. There is only one alternative. Jesus Himself tells us what it is, "If I do not the works of My Father, believe Me not." Shall we believe Him or shall we reject Him?

(C. J. Ridgeway, M. A.)

My sheep hear My voice.
The reference to those who believe not (ver. 26) because they were not of His sheep, introduces the contrast between them and those who were, and the position of the true members of the flock is expanded in this pair of parallel clauses. One member of each pair refers to the act or state of the sheep; the other to the act or gift of the good Shepherd. The pairs proceed in a climax from the first response of the conscience which recognizes the Divine voice, to the eternal home which is in the Father's presence.

1. "My sheep hear My voice,"..."and I know them."

2. "And they follow Me,"..."and I give unto them eternal life."

3. "And they shall never perish;"..."Neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand."By reading successively the clauses printed in the ordinary type, we trace the progress of the human act and state; by reading in the same way those printed in italics, we trace the progress of the Divine gift; by reading each pair in the order of the text, we see how at each stage the gift is pro. portioned to the faculty which can receive it.

(Archdeacon Watkins.)

While far from flattering this emblem is very consolatory, for of all creatures none are so weak and helpless as sheep, and none are the subjects of such care.

I. THE PROPRIETOR OF THE SHEEP. "My." They are Christ's —

1. By choice.

2. By the Father's gift. We often value a gift for the donor's sake irrespective of its intrinsic worth.

3. He bought them. We value that for which we have to pay.

4. By capture. A man esteems that which he procures with risk of life and limb. When we were astray He sought, found, rescued us.

5. By the cheerful surrender of ourselves to Him. We would not belong to another if we might; not even to ourselves. All this is —

(1)A great honour. To belong to a king carries distinction.

(2)A guarantee of safety.

(3)The stamp of sanctity. We are the Lord's separated flock.

(4)The key to duty.

II. THE MARKS OF THE SHEEP.

1. Their ear mark: "Hear My voice."

(1)They hear spiritually.

(2)They hear Christ in the ministry, Bible, providences, etc., and they distinguish His voice from that of strangers.

(3)They hear obediently.

2. Their foot mark: "They follow Me" — not are driven. They follow Christ —

(1)As the Captain of their salvation.

(2)As their Teacher.

(3)As their Example.

(4)As their Commander and Prince. "Whatsoever He saith unto you do it."

III. THE PRIVILEGE OF THE SHEEP. It does not look very large, but it is amazingly blessed. "I know them," the reverse of which is "I never knew you." He knows us —

1. Personally.

2. Thoroughly.

3. Helpfully.

(1)Our sins that He may forgive them.

(2)Our diseases that He may heal them, etc.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

In a beautiful English churchyard is a small grave remarkable for its simplicity. It is evidently the resting place of a little lad who loved his Saviour. The inscription is as follows: "Freddy!"... "Yes, Father!"

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

You have a watch, and it will not go, or it goes very irregularly, and you give it into the hands of one who knows nothing about watches, and he says, "I will clean it for you." He will do it more harm than good. But here is the person who made the watch. He says, "I put every wheel into its place; I made the whole of it from beginning to end." You feel the utmost confidence in entrusting that man with your watch. It often cheers my heart to think that since the Lord made me He can put me right.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

Pulpit Analyst.
I. THE MARKS.

1. They know His voice. This is universal in the East. They hear it —

(1)In conversion.

(2)At the time of duty.

(3)In affliction.

(4)In the hour of death.

2. They follow Him —

(1)That they may get pardon.

(2)To obtain the living water.

(3)To share His unspeakable love.

(4)To commune with Him in prayer.

(5)To learn from His example.

II. THE BLESSINGS.

1. Christ knows them. The world does not; the Church may not; but Christ does, whatsoever their state or condition.

2. Christ gives them eternal life. This implies —

(1)Daily pardon.

(2)Spiritual life.

3. Christ keeps them safely.

(1)They are in His land.

(2)In His Father's land.

(3)To all eternity.

(Pulpit Analyst.)

These are known —

I. BY HEARING. The most important of all the senses, and of scriptural emblems, is the ear. (Isaiah 55) "Faith cometh by hearing." The sheep hear —

1. Christ's personal voice. He still speaks in the Scriptures. Many do not recognize that voice, as a stranger would not recognize your child's voice in a letter; but every syllable becomes audible to you. The word of battle is to the soldier not the voice of the trumpeter, but the call of his general.

2. The voice of truth. No voice but Christ's is, be. cause nothing else is permanent.

3. The voice of grace and of love.

4. The voice of power over the world, the flesh and the devil. Hence it imparts courage to the Christian soldier to go on conquering and to conquer.

II. BY PERSONAL APPEARANCE, as we are able to distinguish our friends and children. Christ knows His sheep.

1. In whatever condition of life, rich or poor, healthy or unhealthy, in sorrow or in joy.

2. Whatever company they may keep.

3. Whithersoever they go.

4. Whatsoever they do. The knowledge in this aspect of it is admonitory and encouraging.

III. BY FOLLOWING. They follow Christ's example —

1. In obedience to His earthly parents.

2. In conformity to all the righteousness of religion.

3. In nonconformity to the world.

(H. Cooke, D. D.)

They follow Me. — Christ's flock often addressed by the seductive voice of strangers. They are promised the treasures, honours, and pleasures of the world. They are told that there are other and smoother ways of reaching heaven. But there is none but this: following Christ.

I. In HOLINESS. "Be ye holy for I am holy."

II. In LOVE. "By this shall all men know," etc.

III. In SELF-DENIAL. "If any man will come after Me," etc.

IV. In MEEKNESS. "Let this mind be in you," etc.

(W. H. Van Doren, D. D.)

With my brother I was once climbing the Cima di Jazi, one of the mountains in the chain of Monta Rosa. When nearly at the top, we entered a dense fog. Presently our guides faced right about and grounded their axes on the frozen snowed slope. My brother, seeing the slope still beyond, and not knowing it was merely the cornice overhanging a precipice of several thousand feet, rushed onward. I shall never forget their cry of agonized warning. He stood for a moment on the summit, and then, the snow yielding, he began to fall through; one of the guides, at great risk, had rushed after him, and seizing him by the coat, drew him down to a place of safety. So Christ is our guide amid the mists and the difficult place of light. It is not ours to go before Him. Where He leads we may go, when He stops, we should stop. It is at our peril if we go a step beyond.

(Newman Hall.)

A little girl was once asked what it was to be a Christian, and she wisely answered, "It is to do just what Jesus would do if He was a little girl and lived at our house." I give unto them eternal life. —

This doctrine has been found in this passage. But we must carefully distinguish between the certainty of God's promises and His infinite power on the one hand, and the weakness and variableness of man's will on the other. If man falls at any stage in his spiritual life, it is not from want of Divine grace, nor from the overwhelming power of adversaries, but from his neglect to use that which he may or may not use. We cannot be protected against ourselves in spite of ourselves. He who ceases to hear and to follow is thereby shown to be no true believer (1 John 2:19). The difficulty in this case is only one form of the difficulty involved in the relation of an infinite to a finite being. The sense of the Divine protection is at any moment sufficient to inspire confidence, but not to render effort unnecessary (comp. John 6:37, 39, 40, 44). St. Paul combines the two thoughts, Philippians 2:12, etc.).

(Bp. Westcott.)

I. IN WHAT SENSE THEY ARE SECURE.

1. From the condemnation of the law.

2. From the power of temptation.

3. From the dominion of Satan.

4. From everlasting death.

II. THE GROUNDS OF THIS SECURITY.

1. Negatively. Not their own —

(1)Righteousness.

(2)Prudence.

(3)Strength.

(4)Fidelity. Nor —

(5)The efficacy of the means of grace.

(6)The security of the asylum, i.e., the Church, to which they have betaken themselves.

2. Positively.

(1)The covenant of redemption.

(2)The work of Christ.

(3)The indwelling of the Spirit.

(4)The fidelity of God.

III. INFERENCES.

1. Not that we may live in sin and yet be saved, because the security of believers is a security from sin. This is the great distinction between the doctrine of perseverance and Antinomianism. As it is a contradiction to say that God saves the lost, so it is to say that He preserves those who indulge in sin.

2. Not that we may neglect the means of grace. For the security promised is as much security from negligence as from every other evil.

3. This truth is adapted —

(1)To fill the heart with abounding gratitude and love to God.

(2)To produce peace and a filial spirit.

(3)To engender alacrity in the service of God and in working out our salvation.

(C. Hodge, D. D.)

I. THE PAST HISTORY OF THE PEOPLE OF GOD.

1. They had lost eternal life. Every one fell in Adam.

2. They could not have obtained life except by its being given. God never works an unnecessary miracle. If the soul could save itself God would let it do what it could.

3. Eternal life is not secured by merit. That which is given is unmerited. Man merits nothing but death; life is God's free gift.

4. Those who now have it would have perished but for Christ. Sin made all men heirs of wrath.

5. God's people have many enemies who would pluck them out of His hand. They were once in the hand of the enemy.

II. THEIR PRESENT STATE. Notice here —

1. A gift received — "life." Distinguish between existence and life. Existence may be a curse. This life is —

(1)Spiritual; as distinguished from the existence of a stone, and from vegetable, animal, and intellectual life.

(2)Mysterious. You who have mental life cannot explain to a horse what it is, neither can one explain spiritual life to those who have it not.

(3)Divine. We are made partakers of the Divine nature.

(4)Heavenly in its nature, origin and end.

(5)Energetic. It is the spring of all activity.

(6)Eternal.

(7)Free.

2. Preservation secured.

(1)"They" shall never perish. Some of their notions, comforts, and experiences may, but they never shall.

(2)They shall never "perish." The life in them shall not be starved, beaten, or driven out.

(3)"Never? position guaranteed — in Christ's land.A place of —

(1)Honour. We are the jewel He wears on His finger.

(2)Love. "I have graven thee on the palms of my hands."

(3)Power. Christ's hand encloses all His people.

(4)Property. "The saints are in my hand."

(5)Protection.

(6)Use.

III. THEIR OUTLOOK INTO THE FUTURE. Eternal life comprehends all the future. Your spiritual existence will flourish when empires decay, when the heart of this world shall grow cold, when the pulse of the sea shall cease to beat, and the sun's bright eye grow dim with age. When, like a moment's foam which melts into the wave that bears it the whole universe shall have gone, it shall be well with you.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

1. The shepherd owns the flock.

2. The shepherd tends his flock.

3. As the effect of the shepherd's training and watchful care the sheep learn to know him.

4. The flock follow the shepherd wherever he may lead them.

I. THE SHEEP IN THEIR RELATION TO THE SHEPHERD IMAGE THE MEMBERS OF THE SPIRITUAL FOLD IN THEIR RELATION TO JESUS CHRIST, THE SHEPHERD AND BISHOP OF THEIR SOULS.

1. The Good Shepherd is the proprietor of His spiritual flock. The earthly image cannot be pressed beyond proper limits. The sheep on the Judaean hills were beasts, and their shepherd was a man. Between Christ and His sheep there is no such gulf. Though He is the Creator and they are creatures yet He that sanctifieth and they that are sanctified are of one nature. In that nature He has vanquished their enemies and has become their Proprietor as well as their Brother.

2. The ownership of the Good Shepherd in the sheep is ever the same. Time, circumstances, death cannot break it.

II. THE GOOD SHEPHERD GIVES HIS SHEEP ETERNAL LIFE. He has given His life for them; He also gives it to them. Errors to be guarded against —

1. That eternal life means everlasting existence in heaven. It is this but it is more, even the union and communion of love between God and man originated and perfected by Jesus Christ.

2. That it is something future. On the contrary Christ says explicitly that the believer hath it. It is a present possession and a continuous power.

III. THEREFORE THE SHEEP OF THE GOOD SHEPHERD shall never perish.

1. There are at least two enemies of the flock.

(1)The flesh, the wolf within the fold, the traitor within the citadel.

(2)The spirit of this world.

2. The combined attacks of these foes are vain. For Christ —

(1)protects,

(2)guides,

(3)feeds His sheep. Hence "Goodness and mercy follow them all the days of their life."

(E. V. Gerhart D. D.)

By what aids can we conceive of it. Some men say, describe a circle; let the sun be the centre, and let the line of circumference pass through the most distant planet. Let this be as one cycle of existence, and let such cycles be innumerable: this is everlasting life. Traverse the woods and forests of our planet during the season of leaf fall, count the fallen leaves, and repeat this through endless years: this is everlasting life. Visit the deserts and seashores of our globe, number the sands, and let each grain represent a century: this is everlasting life. Separate the waters of this globe into drops, the waters of all pools and lakes, of all brooks and rivers, of all oceans and seas; let each drop represent a century: this is everlasting life. But these illustrations represent duration only, continued existence might be a curse. The life which Jesus promises is pure life and holy, peaceful life and happy, true life and godly; life in a garden more paradisaical than that of Eden; life in a country better far than Canaan; life in a city more sacred than Jerusalem, more magnificent than Nineveh, Athens, or Rome; life in a kingdom to which the kingdoms of this world yield no comparison; and life in a home as peaceful and as pure as the heart of God.

(S. Martin.)

I have read of a father and son who worked in a deep mine, and one day when they were together in a basket in which the miners were drawn up from the pit to the surface, the son overbalanced himself and fell out of the basket; his father seized hold of part of his clothing and thus prevented his sudden fall. But, alas! this was only for a short time. Crying loudly for help, the father held on to his son's clothing as long as he was able, and then his hand falling in its power to bear up so heavy a burden, relaxed its hold, and his son fell and perished. Only the hand of Jesus is all-sufficient and almighty, and it never fails.

(R. Brewin.)

A swallow having built its nest upon the tent of Charles V, the emperor generously commanded that the tent should not be taken down when the camp removed, but should remain until the young birds were ready to fly. Was there such gentleness in the heart of a soldier towards a poor bird which was not of his making, and shall the Lord deal hardly with his creatures when they venture to put their trust in Him! Be assured He hath a great love to those trembling souls that fly for shelter to His royal courts. He that buildeth his nest upon a Divine promise shall find it abide and remain until he shall fly away to the land where promises are lost in fulfilments.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

Plutarch, in relating Alexander's wars, says, that when he came to besiege a certain people who dwelt upon a rock, they jeered him, and asked him "whether his soldiers had wings or not; unless your soldiers can fly in the air we fear you not." Such is the safety of God's people; he can set them upon a rock, so high that no ladder can be found long enough to scale their habitations, nor any artillery or engine strong enough to batter them down, so that unless their adversaries have more than eagle's wings to soar higher than God Himself, they cannot do them the least annoyance; their place of defence is the munition of rocks, safe enough from all dangers.

They that work in gold or silver let fall many a bit to the ground, yet they do not intend to lose it so, but sweep the shop, and keep the very sweepings safe, so that which they cannot at present discover the refiner brings to light. Thus, the world is God's workshop, many a dear child of God suffers and fails to the ground by banishment, imprisonment, sorrow, sickness, etc., but they must not be lost thus, God will search the very sweepings, and gather them out of the very trash, and preserve them. What though they be slightly set by here in this world, and lie amongst the pots, no better accounted of than the rubbish and refuse of the earth? God will find a time to make them up amongst the rest of His jewels.

A man crossed the Mississippi on the ice, and fearing it was too thin, began to crawl on his hands and knees in great terror; but when he gained the opposite shore, all worn out, another man drove past him gaily, sitting upon a sledge loaded with pig iron. That is just the way most Christians go up to the heavenly Canaan, trembling at every step lest the promises shall break under their feet, when really they are secure enough for us to hold our heads and sing with confidence as we march to the better land.

Not long before he died James Janeway blessed God for the assurance of His love, and said he could now as easily die as shut his eyes, adding "Here I am longing to be silent in the dust and to enjoy Christ in glory. It is not worth while to weep for me. Then, remembering how busy the devil had been about him, he thanked God for rebuking him.

(Memoir of J. Janeway.)

"I want to talk to you about heaven," said a dying parent to a member of his family, "we may not be spared to each other long." His beloved daughter exclaimed, "Surely you do not think there is any danger." He replied, calmly, "Danger, my darling! Oh, do not use that word. There can be no danger to the Christian whatever may happen. All is right! All is well! God is love! All is well! Everlastingly well! Everlastingly well!

(John Stevenson.)

My Father which gave them Me. — If He was given them, then —

I. HE IS THEIR ABSOLUTE PROPRIETOR. This is undeniable. All souls are His.

II. IT MUST BE IN HARMONY WITH THEIR OWN FREE CONSENT. Souls cannot be given away as material objects can. They are essentially free, and the great Father would not outrage the nature of His offspring.

III. IT IS NOT IN SUCH A WAY AS TO INVOLVE THE RENUNCIATION OF HIS CLAIM UPON THEM. When we give a thing away, we cease to have any right to it. God will never relinquish His right to the existence, love, reverence and service of souls. Indeed in this passage Christ tells us that they are still in His Father's hand.

(D. Thomas, D. D.)

The French were very proud of the stronghold of Metz, and over one of the principal entrances to it was this inscription, deeply cut in the stone, "This fortress has been nine times besieged, but has never been taken." But when the Prussian army swept over the borders of France and laid seige to this far-famed place of defence, it was not long before those who had taken shelter within its walls found that their hiding place was not a safe one, and soon the flag of the victorious Germans floated above its walls, and the French soldiers within it fell into the hands of their enemies. God is a strong refuge, and will never give up those who trust in Him.

(R. Brewin.)

Backed by the Almighty! As the little constable in the Bay State said to the fellow who threatened him, "If you shake me you shake the whole State of Massachussetts." It is a great thing to be not a forlorn little wheel that mast be turned by hand, but one geared into the machinery of God's eternal laws of moral order.

I and My Father are One.
That Christ in such assertions claimed absolute Divinity is evident from the conduct of the Jews. In scarcely any other case did they seek to lay violent hands upon Him. When He exposed their sins they restrained their rage and waited for their revenge. But at such assertions as these their pent-up wrath burst forth in indignation at His presumption, or in violent action. Now, if they had been misunderstood Jesus would have explained them away; but instead of that He accepts the interpretation of His words and proceeds to argue from it, and, further, it was for standing by this interpretation that He died. We have here a claim to —

I. UNITY OF NATURE. The mysterious thing is that He who made this claim was a man with whom the Jews had been long familiar. He had been in being before His human nature was formed (John 8:53; John 17:5). He had come forth from the Father to assume that human nature, and now clad in it He was conscious of no change in His Divine nature. This unity —

1. Implies absolute equality with the Father (Philippians 2:6). There is not one perfection to be found in the First person of the Godhead that does not exist undimmed in splendour in the Second. We are to conceive of Christ as possessing all the Father's self-sufficiency, eternity, omnipotence, holiness, etc., "All that the Father hath is Mine."

2. Is claimed by Christ through His Sonship. It is as the Son He always regards Himself, even when speaking most strongly of His equality. It is not a separate independent equality, but equality through union; therefore One with the Father because Son of the Father — possessing the Father's nature by virtue of Sonship. This relation is never lost sight of, and all His claims to Divinity are founded upon it. This shows that He is Son not merely through His incarnation, but eternally. If Son in human nature only, He cannot be in any special sense Son of the Father, still less "only begotten."

3. Preserves the distinction between the Father and the Son. Unity is not identity. One in all that is essential to the Godhead, but two distinct persons. When the words were uttered the distinction was evident: the Father was in heaven on the throne of Majesty; the Son was on earth in the form of a Servant.

4. Does not contradict the assertion, "My Father is greater than!" (John 14:23), because just before He had claimed unity with the Father (chap. John 14:10, 11). It is simply a recognition of the filial relation. The Father's glory is undenied; the Son's is from the Father (chap. John 5:26). In this sense only can the Father be greater, and this is consistent with perfect union and equality.

5. Is confessedly mysterious. Let us not then seek to break irreverently through and gaze; but reverently and joyfully accept the truth that we have a Saviour so qualified to save.

II. UNITY OF PURPOSE. Between such a Father and such a Son there can be no collision — unity of nature must embrace unity of will. We should not need to dwell upon this, but for the perversion of the doctrine of the atonement, which has been represented as implying an unwillingness of God to pardon, which had to be propitiated by the sacrifice of Christ. The New Testament nowhere teaches this God-dishonouring tenet (John 3:16). The purpose to save is represented as originating with the Father, and voluntarily accepted by the Son. In the execution of that purpose Jesus repeatedly testifies that He came to do His Father's will. The Son died, not because the Father was unwilling, but unable to save them otherwise.

III. UNITY OF ACTION. (ver. 37, etc.). This so follows from the former part of the subject, that there is no need to enlarge upon it. The Bible abounds with illustrations of it — in Creation, Providence, and redemption. Conclusion: Jesus makes this unity the type of that which should exist between His people and Himself, and amongst ourselves (John 17:20-23).

(W. S. Dewstoe).

The oneness of our Lord with the Father is demonstrated by the following line of argument.

I. DIVINE NAMES ARE GIVEN TO HIM.

1. God. This term is used sometimes in a secondary sense of Moses (Exodus 7:1), and magistrates, etc. (Exodus 22:23; Psalm 32:1, 6), because of some imperfect resemblance they bear to God in some one particular. But it is in no secondary or figurative sense that Christ bears this name (Matthew 1:23; John 1:1; John 20:23; Acts 20:23; 1 Timothy 3:16; Hebrews 1:3; 2 Peter 1:1); and as if to shut out this sense He is called "the Mighty God," "God over all," "The true God, "The great God."

2. Jehovah, the incommunicable name, significant of eternal, independent, and immutable existence (Isaiah 6:5 cf. John 12:41; Jeremiah 23:5, 6; Joel 2:32 cf. Romans 10:13; Isaiah 11:3 cf. Matthew 3:3; Isaiah 3:13, 14 cf. 1 Peter 2:7, 3; Zechariah 12:1, 10 cf. John 19:37).

II. DIVINE PERFECTIONS ARE ASCRIBED TO HIM.

1. Eternal existence (Isaiah 9:6; Micah 5:2; John 1:2; Isaiah 44:6 cf. Revelation 1:11; Revelation 2:3; Revelation 22:13).

2. Omnipresence (Matthew 13:20; Matthew 23:20; John 3:13).

3. Omniscience (John 2:24, 25; John 21:17; Colossians 3:3; Revelation 2:23 cf. 1 Kings 3:39).

4. Omnipotence (Isaiah 9:6; Revelation 1:3; Philippians 3:21).

5. Immutability (Hebrews 1:10-12; Hebrews 13:3).

6. Every attribute of the Father (John 16:15; Colossians 2:9).

III. DIVINE WORKS ARE PERFORMED BY HIM.

1. Creation (John 1:3-10; Ephesians 3:9; Colossians 1:16; Hebrews 1:2-10).

2. Providential government (Matthew 23:13; Luke 10:22; John 3:35; John 17:2; Acts 10:36; Romans 14:9; Ephesians 1:22; Colossians 1:17; Hebrews 1:3; Revelation 17:14).

3. The forgiveness of sins (Matthew 9:2-7; Mark 2:7-10; Colossians 3:13).

4. The final dissolution and renewal of all things (Hebrews 1:12; Philippians 3:21; Revelation 21:5).

5. The resurrection and universal judgment (John 5:22, 27-29; Philippians 3:20, 21; Matthew 25:31, 32; Acts 10:42; Acts 17:31; Romans 16:10; 2 Timothy 4:1).

IV. DIVINE WORSHIP IS PAID TO HIM.

1. This worship is recognized as the distinguishing peculiarity of New Testament saints (Acts 9:14, 21; 1 Corinthians 1:2; Romans 10:12, 13).

2. This worship has been actually paid by inspired men (Luke 24:51, 52; Acts 1:24; Acts 7:59, 60; 2 Corinthians 12:3, 9; 1 Thessalonians 3:11, 12; 2 Thessalonians 2:16, 17; 1 Timothy 1:2; Revelation 1:5).

3. Angels have joined in this worship (Hebrews 1:6; Revelation 5:11, 12).

4. Every creature in the universe will offer it (Philippians 2:9-11; Revelation 5:13, 14).

V. DIVINE EQUALITY IS CLAIMED BY HIM. (John 14:9; John 16:15; John 10:30) This claim we must acknowledge, or accept the terrible alternative that He was destitute of the human excellencies of humility and truthfulness.

VI. HIS NAME IS CONJOINED WITH THAT OF THE FATHER.

1. In the promises He made (John 14:21-23).

2. In the embassy of the apostles (Titus 1; Galatians 1:1).

3. In the designation of the Churches addressed (1 Corinthians 1:2; Ephesians 1:1.; Philippians 1:1, and 2 Thessalonians 1:1).

4. In benedictions besought (1 Timothy 1:2; 1 Thessalonians 3:11; 2 Thessalonians 2:16, 17; 1 Corinthians 13:14).

5. In the worship of heaven (Revelation 5:13; Revelation 7:10). To associate the Creator with a creature in such a way would forever destroy the infinite distinction between God and man.

(B. Field.)

What kind of unity is that which the context obliges us to see in this solemn statement? Is it such a unity as that which our Lord desired for His followers in His intercessory prayer; a unity of spiritual communion, of reciprocal love, of common participation in an imparted heaven-sent nature (John 17:11, 22, 23)? Is it a unity of design and cooperation, such as that which, in varying degrees, is shared by all true workers with God (1 Corinthians 3:3)? How would either of these lower unities sustain the full sense of the context, which represents the hand of the Son as one with the hand, i.e., with the love and power of the Father, securing to the souls of men an effectual preservation from eternal ruin? A unity like this must be a dynamic unity, as distinct from any mere moral or intellectual union, such as might exist between a creature and its God. Deny this dynamic unity, and you destroy the internal connection of the passage; admit it, and you admit, by necessary implication, a unity of Essence. The power of the Son, which shields the redeemed from the foes of their salvation, is the very power of the Father; and this identity of power is itself the outflow and manifestation of a oneness of nature. Not that at this height of contemplation the person of the Son, so distinctly manifested just now in the work of guarding His redeemed, melts away into any mere aspect or relation of the Divine Being in His dealing with His creatures. As St. observes, the "unum" saves us from the charabdis of ; the "sumus" is our safeguard from the Scylla of . The Son within the incommunicable unity of God is still Himself; He is not the Father but the Son. Yet this personal subsistence is in the mystery of the Divine life strictly compatible with unity of essence; the Father and the Son are one Thing.

(Canon Liddon.)

Pulpit Treasury.
The picture produced in the stereopticon is fuller, rounder, and more natural than the same picture seen without the use of that instrument. But to produce the stereoscopic picture there must be two pictures blended into one by the use of the stereopticon, and both the eyes of the observer are brought into requisition at the same time, looking each through a separate lens. Thus Christ is only seen in His true and proper light when the record of His human nature and the statement of His divine are blended. It is a fiat unfinished Christ with either left out. But it is as seen in the Word, with the moral and mental powers of our being both engaged in the consideration, and thus only, that we get the full and true result.

(Pulpit Treasury.)

The Emperor Theodosius being seduced from the truth by Arian teachers, Bishop Amphilocus, at Rome, took the following eccentric means of convincing him of his error. Theodosius had raised his son, Arcadius, to the dignity of Caesar. Together in royal state they received the homage of their subjects. Amphilochus, on one of these occasions presented himself and bowed his knee before the emperor, but took no notice of his son. Theodosius, offended, exclaimed: "Know you not that I have made my son the partner of my throne?" The bishop thereupon turned on Arcadius, put his hands upon his head, and invoked a blessing upon him, and then turned to go away. Naturally dissatisfied with patronage in place of homage, Theodosius asked in angry tones if that was all the respect the bishop paid to an occupant of the throne, but the latter replied: "Sire, you are angry with me for not paying your son equal honour with yourself; what must God think of you for encouraging those who insult His equal Son in every part of your empire?"

Out of the harbour of Goodwin Sands the pilot cannot make forth, they say, unless he so steer his ship that he bring two steeples so even in his sight that they appear one. So it is here.

(J. Trapp.)

Anecdotes on New Testament Texts.
"Sitting lately," says one, "in a public room at Brighton, where an infidel was haranguing the company upon the absurdities of the Christian religion, I could not but be pleased to see how easily his reasoning pride was put to shame. He quoted those passages 'I and My Father are one '; 'I in them and thou in Me '; and that there are three persons in one God. Finding his auditors not disposed to applaud his blasphemy, he turned to one gentleman, and said with an oath, 'Do you believe such nonsense?' The gentleman replied, 'Tell me how that candle burns?' 'Why,' answered he, 'the tallow, the cotton, and the atmospheric air produce the light.' 'Then they make one light, do they not? ' 'Yes.' 'Will you tell me how they are one in the other, and yet but one light?' 'No, I cannot.' 'But you believe it?' He could not say he did not. The company instantly made the application, by smiling at his folly; upon which the conversation was changed."

(Anecdotes on New Testament Texts.)

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