My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand.
How can you tell a true Christian? Jesus says, They follow me. That is, they obey Jesus; they do what he commands. This does not mean that they always do so instantaneously, without struggle. All of us struggle at times with what our Lord says; all of us resist at times. Sometimes the word needs to be brought clearly and sharply into focus in our life. But the point of it is, once we see what Jesus wants, the attitude of a true sheep is, Lord, even though it hurts, even though it costs, I will do what you say. I will follow you.
Why do sheep act this way? What has made the difference? Three things: First, Jesus says, I give unto them eternal life. That is stated in the present indicative tense: I keep on giving to them eternal life. What holds us to Jesus? It is the life he gives, the peace, the joy, the love that we feel, the sense of inner serenity, the forgiveness, the sense of belonging and being guarded and kept and loved, that is what brings us. It is a quality of life which comes so continually to us that we would give up anything else rather than give that up. We are drawn because he keeps on giving us life, eternal life, God’s kind of life.
Secondly, that quality of life has an element of assurance: it will never end. It has a certainty of safety, of security about it. We will never perish. Isn’t that a marvelous word? We live in a world that is perishing, a world that is headed for judgment, for ultimate destruction. People all around us are committed to ways of life that end at last in hell—but because he has given us eternal life, we shall never perish! What a wonderful word of assurance. It is a life that survives death, that even disdains death. Everyone is headed for death, yet many are unafraid. They do not look with terrible tragic hopelessness toward that future. They know that a way has been provided by which they will not even know death or sense it when it happens, but they will be ushered immediately into glory and life and truth.
Thirdly, this is a life which is guarded, kept, protected by two unconquerable Beings. Jesus said, No one shall 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 the Father’s hand. In Colossians, Paul puts these two things together: Your life is hid with Christ in God, (Colossians 3:3). What a wonderful view that is of our safety! No one, not even we ourselves, can take us out of the Father’s hand. (Romans 8:38-39)
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Thank you, Lord, for the assurance of eternal life, and that life will never end. Thank you, that I can trust in your promise that no one can snatch me out of your strong hand.
As sheep dependent on our Shepherd’s care, are we learning to deliberately choose and trust our Shepherd as He leads us in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake?