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“Now it was the Feast of Dedication in Jerusalem, and it was winter. And Jesus walked in the temple, in Solomon’s porch. 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.’ 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. But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you. My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. 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. I and My Father are one.’ Then the Jews took up stones again to stone Him.” John 10:22-31 (Read John 10:22-39)

Is Jesus the long-promised Messiah and Savior? That’s what the Jews demanded of Jesus to tell them, but it did no good because the people did not believe Jesus’ claims to be the Messiah, nor did they believe in Him because of the many mighty miracles he performed — works which no one could do unless God were with him and working through him. The Jews recognized what Jesus was claiming but did not believe. Instead, they sought to kill Him.

The situation is no different today. The Bible records Jesus’ words and claims for all to read and hear. It contains record after record of His miracles — even the account of His resurrection from the dead, which was witnessed by more than 500 people at once (1 Cor. 15:3-8). Jesus clearly claimed to be the very Son of God, who came into this world as a man to redeem us and give all who trust in Him pardon and everlasting life. Jesus’ miracles — healing the sick, opening the eyes of the blind and the ears of the deaf, making the lame whole, casting out demons, feeding thousands, calming the sea, turning water into wine, and even raising the dead on multiple occasions — clearly testify to the truth of His claims to be the only-begotten Son of God and the Messiah and Savior of the world. But so many do not believe and place their faith in Him for life and salvation!

Why? Jesus answered that question when He said, “You do not believe, because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you. My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.” While this is hard for us to grasp, it is only those chosen by God to follow Jesus as their Good Shepherd and trust in Him who hear and believe Jesus’ words.

Jesus explained this on another occasion in John 6:37 and 44: “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out. … No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day.” What does this mean? In the words of John 1:10-13: “He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”

Jesus tells us that we cannot, by our own reason or choosing, come to Jesus and trust in Him as God’s Son and our Savior. We would all reject Him and fail to believe. Apart from God’s gracious choosing and drawing, no one can come to know Jesus for who He is or trust in Him and His cross for forgiveness and life. The Bible and Jesus’ words and teachings would remain a closed book to us. We would be unable to understand what they are really saying and rightly apply them to our lives.

But God, in His grace and mercy, has chosen those who believe and called them to come to Jesus and trust in Him for forgiveness and eternal life. By God’s gracious choosing and drawing, those who believe have come to Jesus and recognize Him for who He is, trusting in Him and His cross for eternal life.

And, as Jesus said of those who come to Him and believe, “They shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. 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. I and My Father are one.’

Not only is it by the grace and mercy of God that believers hear God’s Word and come to trust in Jesus; it is by the grace and mercy of God that He, through His Word, keeps and preserves them in that faith unto everlasting life.

The Bible tells us in Philippians 1:6: “He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.”

O gracious heavenly Father, through Your Word, draw me to Jesus and grant me faith to trust in Him for the forgiveness of all my sins and for life eternal. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

[Scripture is quoted from The Holy Bible, New King James Version, Copyright © 1982 Thomas Nelson. All rights reserved.]

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“Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say to you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye ate of the loaves, and were filled. Labour not for the food which perisheth, but for that food which endureth to everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give to you: for him hath God the Father sealed.” John 6:26-27 (Read John 6:1-27)

After Jesus fed the multitudes with five barley loaves and two small fish, the people sought Him. Not finding Him where He had fed them, they crossed over the Sea of Galilee and came to Capernaum, where they found Him and questioned Him as to how He had come there since He did not leave in the boat with His disciples.

Jesus cut right to the heart of the issue when He pointed out to the people, “Verily, verily, I say to you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye ate of the loaves, and were filled. Labour not for the food which perisheth, but for that food which endureth to everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give to you: for him hath God the Father sealed.”

As Jesus told them, they sought Him out and came to Him, not because they recognized from His miracles — and now believed — that He was the Messiah, God’s Son who had come into this world to redeem them from sin and death, but because they ate of the loaves and were filled.

Jesus told them not to labor for temporal food that perishes but for spiritual food that nourishes the soul and endures unto everlasting life. Rather than seeking Jesus because He miraculously fed the crowds, Jesus told them they should be coming to Him for spiritual food — for the forgiveness of their sins and for the blessing of eternal life, which He came to provide them by offering up Himself as a sacrifice to God for the sins of the world.

Jesus’ words still ring true today. Why do people call on pastors and churches? Why do you come to the church of Jesus? Is it to hear the Word of God and learn of the salvation Jesus won for all by His innocent sufferings and death? Is it to repent of selfish and sinful ways and look to the crucified and risen Christ for pardon, forgiveness, and life eternal?

Ask any pastor, and he will tell you why his church phone lines ring and why people seek him out. Is it that they might learn the truth of God’s Word and hear of Jesus and what He accomplished for us when He died on the cross and rose again? Is it for spiritual food to nourish their starving souls? No, it is almost always for earthly food, money to pay the bills or free clothing.

Should churches aid those with such temporal needs? Certainly — according to the measure in which God enables them to do so. Our Lord Jesus healed the sick and fed the multitudes even though He desired that people come to Him for their spiritual needs — for mercy and forgiveness, for eternal life!

But churches should also speak the words of Jesus to those who come seeking only earthly food and temporal goods. They should urge those who come to seek the food that will nourish their starving souls and give them eternal life.

Churches should speak the warning words of Jesus: “Labour not for the food which perisheth, but for that food which endureth to everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give to you: for him hath God the Father sealed.”

Dear Lord Jesus, thank You for providing me with food, clothing, and all my earthly needs. But, above all, thank You for providing for me in my greatest need by Your death on the cross for my sins and Your glorious resurrection. Move me to look to You in faith for pardon, forgiveness, and everlasting life in Your eternal kingdom. Amen.

[Scripture is quoted from the Revised Webster Version of the Bible, a Bible version in the King James tradition.]

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Jesus said: “I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep. I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep. And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.” John 10:11-16

What do these words of our Lord Jesus say to us today?

To pastors, it is a stern warning to shepherd God’s sheep with God’s Word. It is a warning not to abuse or neglect God’s flock but to preach and teach the whole truth revealed in the Bible and to faithfully apply God’s Word to recover the straying, to admonish the indifferent, to comfort and bind up the weak and injured, and to gather the lambs to their Savior. Those who don’t fulfill their duties will be held responsible for their failures to shepherd God’s sheep, but those who do the work entrusted to them will receive a reward (cf. 1 Cor. 4:1-2; Ezek. 34; Isa. 40:10-11; Jer. 23:1-4).

Peter writes in 1 Peter 5:2-4: “Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.”

St. Paul exhorted the pastors in Ephesus (Acts 20:28): “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.”

To the sheep, it is a reminder that Jesus, the Good Shepherd, continues to watch over our souls. He feeds and nourishes us with His Word, which reveals to us our sinfulness but also comforts us with the good news of forgiveness and life through faith in Jesus Christ and His atoning sacrifice on the cross.

And, indeed, He gave His life for the sheep! Isaiah 53:6 tells us: “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.”

Jesus gave His life for us to redeem us from sin and condemnation; and with His Word, He admonishes us when we go astray, comforts us when we repent and look to Him for pardon and peace, and encourages and comforts us when we are weighed down with guilt and overwhelmed by the troubles of this life.

His Word tells us in 1 John 1:7 — 2:2: “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.”

When His called ministers are faithfully doing their duty, God commands us in Hebrews 13:17: “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.”

And, of course, the ultimate goal is that we, God’s sheep, dwell with the Lord Jesus forever. The goal is that which is expressed in Psalm 23:6: “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever” (cf. Ps. 23:1-6).

And we will dwell in the house of the Lord forever when, by the gracious working of the Holy Spirit through God’s Word, we are preserved in the true and saving faith and trust in Christ and His cross alone for pardon and for life everlasting!

“Savior, like a shepherd, lead us; much we need Your tender care. In Your pleasant pastures feed us, for our use your fold prepare. Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus, You have bought us; we are Yours. Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus, You have bought us; we are Yours.” Amen. (Lutheran Service Book, Hymn No. 711, Verse 1.)

[Scripture is quoted from the King James Version of the Bible.]

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“And he went up unto them into the ship; and the wind ceased: and they were sore amazed in themselves beyond measure, and wondered. For they considered not the miracle of the loaves: for their heart was hardened.” Mark 6:51-52 (Read Mk. 6:30-56; cf. Jn. 6:1ff.; Mt. 14:13ff; Lk. 9:10ff.)

Should we be fearful when trouble comes our way, or should we be amazed when Jesus meets all our needs?

Jesus’ disciples were fearful when caught in a storm as they rowed their boat across the Sea of Galilee. And, when Jesus, who walked to them on the water, entered the boat and the winds stopped, they were amazed. Why? Because they hadn’t considered and grasped the miracle they had just seen: the feeding of more than 5,000 with a few small loaves. Their hearts were hardened and they failed to recognize who Jesus is and to trust in Him, the Bible tells us.

What about us? Are our hearts hardened? Are we fearful when we have bills to pay and not enough to pay them? When we become sick or face death? When troubles come? Or storms? Or threats of war and unrest?

Do we look at things with our hearts hardened? Or do we remember who is with us always, even to the end of the world (Matt 28:20)? Do we say, on the basis of hardened hearts, “What are they among so many?” (John 6:9), or do we give thanks and leave the rest to our God and Savior?

Do we not realize that Jesus is God the Son in human flesh? He created all things with His almighty Word, and there is nothing too hard for Him (John 1:1ff.; Jer. 32:17). He fed thousands with a few loaves and fish. He healed the sick, opened the eyes of the blind, cleansed lepers, made the lame whole, and even raised the dead. When He tells us not to worry but seek first His kingdom (Matt. 6:25ff.), should we be afraid? Should we be full of doubts and fears?

And when He intervenes and grants us help, healing, strength, and all that we need, do we see and recognize His helping hand? Or are we astonished and surprised when we do see Him at work?

Have we considered what He did for us on the cross? Do we doubt that atonement has been made for all our sins and forgiveness won? Do we doubt that He gives us to partake of His sacrifice for us in the Lord’s Supper? That all our sins are washed away and we become God’s children through our baptism?

Consider the price He paid. Consider that our redemption is finished, as He said (John 19:30). Consider that when we trust in Him, we are “accepted” and “have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace” (Eph. 1:6,7).

O Spirit of God, open our hearts and minds to see Jesus, to recognize Him for who He is, and to trust in Him and all He has done for us. Grant that our hearts not be hardened but accepting and trusting of the truth. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

[Scripture is quoted from the King James Version of the Bible.]

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“And Jesus said, For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind.” John 9:39 (Read John 9:1-41)

Could it be that your own opinions and beliefs are keeping you from knowing and trusting in Jesus as the promised Messiah and Savior of the world? Do you turn from Him and reject His mighty work as your Savior because He, somehow, doesn’t fit into your religious views and ideas?

When Jesus healed a man born blind, the blind man came to know and believe that Jesus was indeed the promised Christ and the Son of God spoken of in the Scriptures (cf. Ps. 2:7). But the Pharisees, even though it was indisputable that Jesus had opened the eyes of the blind (cf. Isa. 42:7), refused to believe in Him and had even agreed that anyone who came to believe in Jesus as the Messiah would be put out of the Jewish synagogue. Because Jesus had made clay and healed this man on the sabbath, they said He was not of God and called Him a sinner.

Thus, a man born blind was given sight — both physical and spiritual — and came to know and trust in Jesus as the Son of God and his Savior from sin. The Pharisees, on the other hand, though they could see with their eyes and knew of Jesus’ mighty working, refused to see and believe that Jesus is the Christ and the Savior of the world. Their own religious views and opinions blinded their eyes to the truth which was so clearly revealed to them. Thus, they forfeited the forgiveness and life Christ Jesus won for them.

But what about you? Do you let your own religious views and opinions keep you from coming to Christ Jesus in faith? Are you so convinced that God will accept you on the basis of your own religious works that you do not see your utter sinfulness and the salvation Christ Jesus freely won for you when He fulfilled all righteousness and then suffered and died on the cross for the sins of the world (cf. 1 John 1:7 – 2:2; 1 Tim. 1:15)? And if Jesus were to come to you today, would you reject Him if He did not observe your church traditions and teachings or worship in the same way as you?

The clear and unmistakable truth revealed to us in the Bible is this: We are all sinners and have come short of what God requires of us; Jesus is the Christ, true God and true man; He fulfilled all righteousness for us; He suffered and died on the cross to pay for the sins of all and rose again; In Christ Jesus and for His sake, God is gracious and merciful to sinners and freely offers and gives to all who believe His pardon, forgiveness and life everlasting.

When God graciously opens our eyes and brings us to know and believe these truths and we place our faith in Jesus, we have His pardon and forgiveness and everlasting life. When we shut our eyes to these truths and refuse to believe in Jesus, we die in our sins and will suffer the eternal torments of hell (cf. John 3:16,18,36; 8:24; Mark 16:15-16; 1 John 5:11-12).

Do you see Jesus for who He is and what He has done for you, or are your eyes blinded by your own views and opinions?

Open my eyes, O Lord, and let me see Jesus for who He is and trust in Him for forgiveness, life, and eternal salvation. Amen.

[Scripture is quoted from the King James Version of the Bible.]

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