22 At that time the Feast of the Dedication took place at Jerusalem; 23 it was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple in the portico of Solomon. 24 The Jews then gathered around Him, and were saying to Him, “How long will You keep us in suspense? 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, these testify of Me. 26 But you do not believe because you are not of My sheep. 27 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; 28 and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will 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 the Father’s hand.
The time is now Hannukah. Another celebration and another gathering. The Jews were tired of stories and parables. They wanted Jesus to “tell them straight.” He held true to “ask and you shall receive.” You see, if we ask Him, He will tell us. By seeking Him out and asking for the truth, He gave it to them. Not that He wasn’t before, as His stories told the same message. I’m learning that the purpose behind Jesus’ parables was that we related better to stories and remember the point behind them better. It seems here, though, that the Jews wanted to remove all doubt, so Jesus did just that.
Belief is up to Jesus Christ
Time and again we see this point made. The capacity to believe is not upon mere humans, but God Himself. This is good news for us because there are quite a good lot of people who simply do not believe and there is no way we can convince them otherwise. Now, this can be confusing because we know that God wants everyone to believe in Him and that He loves us all. So, why then aren’t there people who believe? This is the next point Jesus makes.
If we follow Jesus, we will hear His voice
We are given the capacity and ability to believe by Jesus, yet we still have a choice to follow Him. That faith might just be a mustard seed of faith, but it is all that is needed to pause and turn to Him and listen for His voice. Specifically in America, we are too busy to pause and listen to anybody, especially God. This is why Bonhoefer would tell us that believing in God and following Christ is synonymous. One doesn’t exist without the other because as we follow Him, we believe more and more and if we believe even in the possibility of His existence and love for us, we will have cause to at least follow Him for a little while in the hope it is true.
Jesus is God
Throughout much of the scriptures, Jesus talks of the Father (God) as a separate entity. Here He lays out an astonishing point, that even though the Son and Father are separate, they are also one. This is the dynamic of the Triune God, three in one. Also known as the Holy Trinity, it is God’s perfect relationship with Himself, each person with its own purpose. The God to rule as God and be revered as Father, Jesus as Son: the face of God and incarnation of God, The Holy Spirit as the Spirit of Christ (and now we understand also the Spirit of God) as the intercessor and guide for us all to follow Him.
Which part of this statement from Jesus do you struggle with today? Is it that belief is up to Him? Is it hard to comprehend that our faith and belief is not man-made but rather a gift from God? Is it difficult to hear His voice? Are you following Him and asking Him for direction? Maybe it is the concept of Jesus as God that trips us up, understanding the incarnation of God in human form. All of these things can be resolved and answered by following Jesus’ simple command: follow me. It is then we get to hear His voice and know He is for real.