Throughout John 7-10, controversy is growing about Jesus: is he the long awaited for Messiah? People disapprove of his teaching. Others take offense at his claim to be one with the Father. They don’t like that he heals on the Sabbath. Some are confused and want to hear more from Jesus. And yet, some believe his claims and put their trust in him, following him. Why such a diversity of responses? Why do some people believe and others not?
John 7:37 On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” 39 By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified. 40 On hearing his words, some of the people said, “Surely this man is the Prophet.” 41 Others said, “He is the Messiah.” Still others asked, “How can the Messiah come from Galilee? 42 Does not Scripture say that the Messiah will come from David’s descendants and from Bethlehem, the town where David lived?” 43 Thus the people were divided because of Jesus. 44 Some wanted to seize him, but no one laid a hand on him.
John10:22 Then came the Festival of Dedication at Jerusalem. It was winter, 23 and Jesus was in the temple courts walking in Solomon’s Colonnade. 24 The Jews who were there gathered around him, saying, “How long wil lyou keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.” 25 Jesus answered, “I did tell you, but you do not believe. The works I do in my Father’s name testify about me, 26 but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. 27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them tome, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.”
John 7-10 is packed with references to people who believe, and those who don’t. The Jews ask him to tell them once and for all if he is the Messiah, so Jesus points to both his words and his works as evidence for who he is (John 10:25). We have to ask: if Jesus’ words and actions match up – if his teachings and miracles don’t contradict each other – then why doesn’t everyone believe and follow him?
Jesus hints at the answer to this question in John 10:26-27: he says that only his sheep will listen to his voice, believe and follow him. Specifically, he says to the Jews he’s speaking to: “you are not my sheep”. That is, they are people who will not listen to his voice and believe in him.
Jesus has also said that there is a link between the Spirit and belief in him – John 7:38-39 says that in the future, those who believe in Jesus will receive the Spirit like an abundant river flowing from within them – but that before this can happen, Jesus must first be glorified (that is, die and rise again).
Unlike for the Jews in John 7-10, Jesus’ glorification and the giving of the Spirit is not in the future for us – it’s in the past. Jesus has already died, and we live in the period of history in which Jesus’ “sheep” can believe and put their trust in Jesus’ saving death. The Spirit has now been given to those believers. The Spirit is God himself, living in those who believe, helping them to keep believing and trusting in Jesus’ sacrificial death.
This is good news – the Spirit of Jesus himself is like streams of abundant living waters within us, helping us to believe, and helping us to keep following him, even when people question him and challenge us as to whether Jesus really is God’s Messiah. As Jesus says in John 10:28-29: “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.”
The Spirit of Jesus has brought us to belief in Jesus and eternal life in him, and it is the Spirit of Jesus who will keep us safe and believing in Jesus.
Head: When did you come to believe in Jesus? Why did you decide to trust in him?
Heart: How does believing in Jesus help you today? Why do you continue to believe in him?
Hands: Who can you share your testimonial of belief in Jesus with this week?
Prayer: Father God, you sent your Son Jesus to die for my sins. Thank you for glorifying him in his death and resurrection. Thank you for sending the Spirit like rivers of living water to quench my thirst for you. Thank you for making it possible for me to hear the words of Jesus and believe in him. Please keep me faithful to Jesus and believing in him every day. In his name, Amen.
A song to listen to: Spirit of Jesus