“How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.” (John 10:1-24). Here, we have the universal excuse of all who are perishing: “Why wasn’t I told?”
The question may be sincere, and most believers want to give a sincere answer, but there is a trap embedded in the Jews’ question.
We are suddenly tempted to alter the message and make it more palatable for the benefit of unbelievers. “Jesus loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.” Or, “Jesus is hip, groovy and wants to be your friend and heal your pain.” Jesus’ response,
I already told you… but you do not believe because you are not of My sheep.” (John 10:25-26)
Let these words sink in.
How does one become a sheep? You might say, by believing, but look again at the verse. He does not say that they are not sheep because they don’t believe. He says that they don’t believe because they aren’t His sheep!
You don’t become sheep. You are sheep! You have to be a sheep in order to believe! Could these Jews choose to believe? No. They were incapable of believing. On what basis? According to Christ, on the basis of them not being sheep.
My sheep hear My voice and I know them and they follow Me… (John 10:27)
Sheep, if they hear the chief Shepherd’s voice will believe. Goats, on the other hand, while they may appear sheepish for a while, will ultimately not believe.
Once a sheep, always a sheep. You may be speaking to a lost sheep, an asleep sheep; an unbelievably wild, wicked and outrageously disgusting sheep – it may even be a dead sheep. But, if they are ever going to wake up from the dead it will be because they were and are, in fact, sheep.
There are two incredibly liberating things about this truth.
First, we have a job to do. There are lost sheep out there, more than the stars in the sky. Each and every one of us has the glorious task of going out and finding them.
Not only that, but many sheep can be lost for a good long time before the lights go on and they are finally and fully found. I don’t know who they are. Neither do you.
But let’s go into the world and find out. How?
And this is the second liberating truth to all of us who get nervous about how we might win souls for Christ. We have the method. We deliver the message given to us by Jesus. There are people out there who are desperately lost and they will only be found as you echo the voice of the Saviour. It’s the only voice they know to follow.
And they will be found because Christ says they will be—every last one.