Archive for October, 2012

The Text and Context of John 10:26

Jesus’ statement to the Pharisees in John 10:26 has garnered a lot of attention and debate concerning an individual’s ability to believe in Jesus. Some have argued that this statement is an obvious reference in support of unconditional election and effectual calling and even limited atonement because it is clear that in Jesus’ own words, an does not believe BECAUSE he is not one of Jesus’ sheep. Since Jesus gave His life for His sheep, there is this idea that Jesus died exclusively for the elect (His sheep) and the elect are those who will believe and the non-elect do not or will not believe because they are not Jesus’ sheep and they never will be.

The following is a look at the text and the context of this very important statement that Jesus made.


John Chapter 9

Now as Jesus passed by, He saw a man who was blind from birth. 2 And His disciples asked Him, saying, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”

3 Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him.  4 I must work the works of  Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work.  5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”

6 When He had said these things, He spat on the ground and made clay with the saliva; and He anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay. 7 And He said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which is translated, Sent). So he went and washed, and came back seeing. (John 9:1-7 NKJ

Notice what Jesus did; He placed clay over this man’s eyes and told him to go and wash in the pool of Siloam. Jesus could have simply said, “Open your eyes to see” and immediately his eyes would have been healed. Just like Abram, this man had to go where Jesus told him to go and do what Jesus told him to do BEFORE he received his sight.

Faith is not something man just possess. Faith is something that possesses man. Faith is both active and passive. This man received his sight because of his personal encounter with the Savior and his willingness to do what Jesus told him to do. His faith demonstrated in his obedience is what gave him his sight.

Listen to the religious leaders of this man’s day,

24 So they again called the man who was blind, and said to him, “Give God the glory! We know that this Man is a sinner. “25 He answered and said, “Whether He is a sinner or not I do not know. One thing I know: that though I was blind, now I see.” (John 9:24-25 NKJV)

Notice the response of the Pharisees,

“26 Then they said to him again, “What did He do to you? How did He open your eyes?” 27 He answered them, “I told you already, and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become His disciples?” 28 Then they reviled him and said, “You are His disciple, but we are Moses’ disciples. 29 We know that God spoke to Moses; as for this fellow, we do not know where He is from.” (John 9:26-29 NKJV)

This man gave testimony to the healing power of God in his life. He told them what happened but they refused to listen. They refused to accept the truth as it was presented to them. The man who was once blind countered their argument that they had no idea where this man was from. Notice his response,

“Why, this is a marvelous thing, that you do not know where He is from; yet He has opened my eyes! 31 Now we know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does His will, He hears him. 32 Since the world began it has been unheard of that anyone opened the eyes of one who was born blind. 33 If this Man were not from God, He could do nothing.” (John 9:30-33 NKJV)

Basically this is the same argument Jesus used when John the Baptist sent his disciples to Him and asked, “are you the Coming One or should we look for another?

22 Jesus answered and said to them, “Go and tell John the things you have seen and heard: that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have the gospel preached to them.  23 And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.” (Luke 7:21-23 NKJV PP Mt. 11:5)

The religious leaders dismissed this man’s testimony with the following statement, “You were completely born in sins, and are you teaching us?” And they cast him out.” (John 9:34NKJV)

Jesus once again seeks out this man whose life has been literally transformed in less than 24 hours. He has to be overjoyed by what has happened to him but sorely confused at the same time. Jesus asks the man, “Do you believe in the Son of God?”  (John 9:35 NKJV) We have no idea what this man knew about the Old Testament law. However, we do know that his parents feared the Jews, for the Jews had agreed already that if anyone confessed that He was Christ, he would be put out of the synagogue. (John 9:22-23 NKJV) This man knew the Messiah was coming and as Jesus asked him this question, he understood the significance of it. He answers Jesus with the following question in verse 36,

“Who is He, Lord, that I may believe in Him?” He no doubt already knew the answer to that question! Jesus said to him, “You have both seen Him and it is He who is talking with you.” 38 Then he said, “Lord, I believe!” And he worshiped Him. (John 9:37-38 NKJV)

Jesus then makes a very interesting statement. 39 And Jesus said, “For judgment I have come into this world, that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may be made blind.” (John 9:39 NKJV) What does Jesus mean in this statement? A couple of things are obvious. He says “for judgment I have come into this world. This is an interesting statement and the idea of judgment here is one of a matter to be judicially decided, a lawsuit or a case in court. (Strong’s Lexicon G2917) The idea here is that judgment will be based on those who do not see may see and those who do see will be made blind. Here seeing is no doubt associated with believing. This man born blind received his sight and he believed. The religious leaders had their sight and they had all the knowledge they needed to believe but they were blinded by their unbelief. Jesus’ judgment was based on what men did with the knowledge they were given. This judgment would be based on what men did with the Light that He brought into the world. One other note is the setting of Jesus’s statement as well. He is not speaking to the world in a universal sense; He is speaking specifically to the Jewish religious leaders and their religious traditions who were proud, self-confident despisers of the truth. This is obvious in the response from the Pharisees.

“Then some of the Pharisees who were with Him heard these words, and said to Him,

“Are we blind also?” 41 Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you say, ‘We see.’ Therefore your sin remains. (John 9:40-41NKJV)

The religious leaders were challenging Jesus’ authority to speak over and against their authority where matters of the law were concerned. They were the experts in the law. Jesus’ response to them is telling. Had they been blind, He said you would have no sin but because you see, your sin remains. This is indeed very interesting. What does Jesus mean when he says they would have no sin?

The Pharisees were responding to Jesus’ statement that was aimed specifically at them in verse 39. They knew Jesus was speaking of them and so they responded accordingly. Keep in mind, to them Jesus is some obscure individual with no training and no official ordination or Jewish scholarly recognition. To them, He is nothing more than an expert in his own mind. So, are we blind too, they ask Jesus in a tone of derision. Now, consider Jesus’ response to them. If you were blind, you would have no sin. There are several interpretations of this statement. Perhaps the best is, “if you were blind, which is in reference to the context of what has taken place and what He has said, you would have no sin.” Well, the obvious reference here is that this is not the case. It is a conditional statement that everyone knew did not apply! They were sinful and they all knew it and so the inference that they were blind did not apply to them. Basically, Jesus was saying in effect, “you are without excuse and ought to hear what I am saying to you and you ought to believe as this man did.”

Jesus points out their own arrogance by saying to them, “but now, you are saying, ‘we see’ so your sin remains.” So what is the point of Jesus’ condemnation to them? “You have all the information you need to believe that I am who I claim to be.” That is exactly what Jesus is saying. They are without excuse and this is the reason Jesus said I have come here in the first place in verse 39, for judgment. Basically though, He is saying you are judging yourselves! They had the Law. They knew the Law. Their pride and arrogance and their self-righteous attitudes were keeping them from hearing and heeding the real Truth which He had come to provide.

There is one final contrast that needs to be noted before going to chapter 10. These Pharisees had no excuse. They had the benefit of knowing and understanding the Law. This stands in stark contrast to the man who was born blind. He had no hope. He had no excuse. His condition was not self-inflicted. He was not responsible for his condition. The Pharisees on the other hand were responsible for their blindness. One final thought; Jesus cured the one who was not responsible for his condition. He heard Jesus’ voice and he did what Jesus told him to do and his blinded eyes were opened. The Pharisees had no excuse for their blindness except for their own pride and obstinance. It seems that this blindness was one that Jesus would not heal or correct.

John Chapter 10

Chapter 10 is quite popular for Jesus’ reference to the sheep and their relationship to the shepherd especially in the area of why people believe in Jesus and why they do not. It is important to remember that this passage is related directly to Jesus’ dealing with spiritual blindness found in   chapter 9. This dialogue found in chapter 10 continues what Jesus began in chapter 9.

So, Jesus says, “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.  2 But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.  3 To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.  4 And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.  5 Yet they will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.”  6 Jesus used this illustration, but they did not understand the things which He spoke to them. (John 10:1-6 NKJV)

Jesus moves from the spiritual blindness of the Pharisees to their ability to lead the people. Here Jesus is establishing His authority as the Shepherd. He comes to the front gate with his sheep and the gatekeeper opens the door when he comes to get his sheep and the sheep that went in with him will come out with him. In verse 6, John writes, “they did not understand the things that Jesus spoke to them.” The “they” in this passage is the same “they” in chapter 9; “they” are the Pharisees who are the ones who did not enter the sheepfold through the door.” Verses 1-5 refer speak of and to shepherds in general. Verses 7-10 will speak to The Shepherd for both the sheep and the shepherd.

The three verses that get very little attention in most discussions of chapter 10 and Jesus’ reference to His sheep and their hearing His voice are found in verses 7-10.

“Then Jesus said to them again, “Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep.  8 All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them.  9 I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.  10 The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.

“Christ is that door; He is the door of the sheep and He is the door for the shepherds. There is no other way into His fold, for there is no other name, under heaven, given among men, whereby men must be saved (Ac 4:12). Jesus says, ” 9 I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.”

Christ is the door to salvation. What is the purpose of a door? It is the passageway that an individual must go through to get from one place to another. So, salvation is the passageway from death unto life and the only way to get to life is to go through Christ. There is no other way to be saved. Period. Notice Jesus’ conditional statement, “If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved.” He goes on to say, “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”

Jesus is contrasting His coming to that of the Pharisees who are there to “steal, kill and destroy” as false teachers. He has come to give life and to give it abundantly. He is the well spring of life. (Prov. 16:22)

Jesus goes on,

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.  12 But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them.  13 The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep.” (John 10:11-14 NKJV)

Here Jesus is obviously referring to His sacrificial death on the cross for His sheep. He is identified as “the good Shepherd.” This is in obvious contrast to the religious leaders of His day who are opposing Him at every opportunity. They have criticized Him of healing a man born blind of all things pointing to their own spiritual blindness. Jesus will contrast Himself with the hireling who simply wants a paycheck and will flee at the first sign of danger. The hireling does not care for the sheep; Jesus says that He is more than willing to give His life for the sheep, not His sheep. This is vitally important. Jesus’ death is universal in scope as opposed to being specific.

Jesus died in sinful man’s place to obtain pardon for his sin; Jesus paid the penalty for man’s sin so that he could be set free from the punishment of his sin. Jesus did not his life down for His teaching; He laid it down for the sheep. He did what He did so that He could become the doors that anyone could enter by Him and be saved, and go in and out and find pasture. This is an important note to make because the Pharisees were more concerned with the letter of the law whereas Jesus was more concerned with the people who were affected by the Law. Jesus died for people not the Law.

14 I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own.  15 As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.”

Jesus knows His sheep; He knows who has and who has not entered by the gate, which is by His blood shed at the cross. His sheep, those who have entered by the gate or the cross, know Him.

16 And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd. (John 10:14-16 NKJV)

This is an obvious reference to the Gentile inclusion into the sheepfold or the universal church.

17 “Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again.  18 No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.”

Once again, Jesus reiterates His claim as the good shepherd because of what it is that He has come to this world to do and that is to willingly give His life for the sheep. Now, the Pharisees continue to argue about Jesus and His mission and ministry;

“19 Therefore there was a division again among the Jews because of these sayings. 20 And many of them said, “He has a demon and is mad. Why do you listen to Him?” 21 Others said, “These are not the words of one who has a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?” (John 10:17-21NKJV)

Verse 21 obviously links chapter 10 to the events in chapter 9.

22 Now it was the Feast of Dedication in Jerusalem, and it was winter. 23 And Jesus walked in the temple, in Solomon’s porch. 24 Then the Jews surrounded Him and said to Him, “How long do You keep us in doubt? If You are the Christ, tell us plainly.”25 Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in My Father’s name, they bear witness of Me. Jesus comes into the Temple and He is confronted once again. “Tell us if you are the Messiah.”

The truth is, they were not interested in flowing Him but rather looking for a reason to bring trouble on Him.

Jesus answers them, “26 But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you.” This statement has garnered a lot of attention. Jesus tells the religious leaders that they do not believe because they are not of His sheep. Some argue this statement speaks of unconditional election in that “Jesus did not say they were not His sheep because they did not believe; He said they did not believe because they were not His sheep.” The problem with this rendering of this verse is that the context clearly states that the condition of being one of His sheep is believing in Him (John 10:9). So their unbelief which has kept them from becoming one of Jesus’ sheep is the cause of their continued unbelief.

Notice Jesus continues,

“My sheep (those who have entered by the door of belief and faith in Me) hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.  28 And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.  29 My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand.  30 I and My Father are one.” (John 10:22-30 NKJV)

In verses 34-38, Jesus makes the following appeal: if you cannot believe Me because of the things I say, because of what you believe the Law and your tradition says, “believe the works (that you have seen Me do), that you may know and believe that the Father is in Me, and I in Him.” (John 10:38-39 NKJV) These works are proof that Jesus is who He says He is and that He has come to do what He has said He would do. Faith is rooted in their believing the promises of God! Jesus was telling the religious leaders to listen to what He was saying but to also pay attention to what God was doing in and through Him.

Salvation is available to all who will come to Him by faith through obedience to His Word to be saved.