Jesus paints with permanent ink

Pastor Jeff Struecker

It feels like 100 years ago, but a long time ago, while I was a sergeant in the range of regiment, we did this big multinational mission, and we did it in the Scottish highlands. So the plan was to do all of our planning and to prepare here in Columbus, Georgia. We were going to fly over to the U. K. We were going to jump in. Then we would spend about two weeks in the springtime, which is bitter cold walking up in these high mountains of Scotland as part of this big joint multinational exercise.

 

The pictures looked like postcards, perfect terrain, these lush green mountains, and nothing but sheep pastures everywhere. This isn’t me walking in the mountains like if you look hard, you’re not going to see me in those pastures. But it looked like this until I got into those pasturelands that are not flat-level terrain.

 

It’s been thousands of years of sheep beating up the sides of the hill. So there was never a solid piece of ground the entire time I was up there. But I will never forget walking among a bunch of sheep. And early in the morning, before the sun came up, it looked like they were dirty on the sides as the sun started to get a little bit higher on the horizon, and we started to make our way towards the woods to be able to hide from the bad guys.

 

I looked closer, and it wasn’t dirt. Those sheep were painted little dots on the side of the sheep. I noticed some of the sheep were painted hot pink, and the other sheep that I was walking around were painted like neon green, and I thought some teenagers got up here and played a joke and started spray painting sheep only to learn from the brits and the pairs that we were working with. No, that’s how the shepherd makes sure that everybody in the area knows those are my sheep. That hot pink dot that I spray painted on the side of his wool, that’s my sheep. And by the way, the sheep didn’t feel it at all because their wool is so thick and so furry that you can see the hot pink dot from a distance and see the neon green from a distance.

 

I still remember thinking to myself, so he goes out there with a can of spray paint, and he’s shooting spray paint on all of his sheep every day. It feels like there’s an easier or better way to do this. I’m using this analogy because this is the way the shepherd lets everybody on the hillside. No, those sheep with that color. Those are my sheep. Don’t take my sheep, don’t sheer my sheep, don’t steal my sheep.

 

Last week Troy was teaching us from John chapter 10, and last week, Jesus described himself as the good shepherd. He described himself as the good shepherd who lays down his life for his sheep. And I want to take Troy’s sermon, and forward, I want to pick up at the verse where he left off, and I want you to know something about Jesus, all of us in this room who claim to be followers of him.

 

Jesus doesn’t use spray paint; I should have used the word tattoo because when Jesus marks his sheep when he paints his sheep, it’s permanent, and no one and nothing on planet earth can take Jesus’ mark off of you, once you’ve met that savior and once he’s marked you.

 

We’re going to be in the book of John in chapter 10, and we’re going to start in verse 22. Then the festival of dedication took place in Jerusalem, and it was Winter. The word winter is important for two reasons. I’m going to tell you why. Jesus was walking in the temple in Solomon’s colonnade, and the Jews surrounded him and asked, how long are you going to keep us in suspense if you’re the Messiah? Tell us plainly.

I did tell you, and you don’t believe. Jesus answered them the works that I do in my father’s name, testify about me, but you don’t believe because you are not my sheep, my sheep hear my voice, I know them, and they follow me, I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will 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.

 

Hold on, Jesus, you’re saying, I’m secure and have eternal life? Is it your hand? Or is it the Father’s hand that no one can snatch me out of? Because you just said both, and I’m confused.

Jesus clears up in the most crystal clear point anywhere in the bible. He is a God made into the flesh, and you cannot miss it from this verse in John chapter 10, I and the Father, our one. If you’re in my hand, you’re in the father’s hand, and when you’re in the father’s hand, you’re in my hands. And what I want you to hear from the bible today is when you’re in Jesus’ hands, you’re in good hands. 

Jesus paints with permanent ink

So what we’re going to do for just a second is we’re going to look at basically five things that give you absolute rock-solid, 100% certainty that your eternity is secure, that when Jesus comes back to rebuild heaven and earth, you’re going to be here with them. And I could do like 50 things, but I just chose the top five, and you guys will have to forgive me. Still, I couldn’t help myself, I just wanted to make them all start with the letter S, so they’re all going to start with the letter s today, But this is my way of kind of reaching across the room and giving you a high five. 

John 10: 22 – 30

Then the Festival of Dedication took place in Jerusalem, and it was winter. Jesus was walking in the temple in Solomon’s Colonnade. The Jews surrounded him and asked, “How long are you going to keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.” “I did tell you and you don’t believe,” Jesus answered them. “The works that I do in my Father’s name testify about me. But you don’t believe because you are not of my sheep. My sheep hear my voice, I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will 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 is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”

God’s sheep are safe in Christ

Number one I want you to see from the bible is Jesus is making it crystal clear. My sheep don’t have to worry because they’re safe. God’s sheep are safe in Jesus Christ. This whole episode takes place during a festival, and an important festival called the Festival of dedication. 

Now I got to give you a little backstory to understand how significant this festival is because about 200 years before Jesus showed up in the temple and had this conversation, there was a war. Israel is defeated; their neighbor, the Syrians, conquered Jerusalem. 

They destroyed the temple. And if you were a Jew living 200 years before Jesus, you were devastated because you believed that the temple is where the presence of God dwells. And as long as we’ve got the temple, we’ve got God, and we’re going to be okay until a Syrian general by the name of Antiochus IV Epiphanes comes, and he goes to war, defeats Jerusalem, and destroys the temple. He not only destroys the temple, but he also desecrates it and makes it unholy to worship in this temple anymore. The Jews were devastated because they had lost their temple. It was desecrated in the year 164 BC. 

Some Jewish leaders revolted. They kick out the Syrians, start to rebuild the temple, and restore its purity and holiness. A guy by the name of Judas Maccabeus restores the temple. And now the people of God can worship in the temple again. They celebrated the first time coming back into the temple by taking the great Jewish candlestick, the great Jewish menorah, and they brought it into the temple and started to light the candle each day. A new candle to celebrate. This is called the Festival of Lights, or what John is telling us today, the festival of dedication. 

It’s not just a moment in Jewish history where you look back and remember that the country was defeated and our temple was desecrated. It is the moment where the Jews look forward to the coming Messiah, the one who’s going to rescue us. Because the Jews have been beaten by the Greeks and the Romans have beaten them and the Egyptians have beaten them and the Syrians have beaten them and they’ve been beaten enough to know that until God steps in and fixes things for us. We’re in deep trouble because we’re not strong enough, and we’re not powerful enough to fight our own battles for us. 

So they were longing and looking for God’s promised Rescuer, and I hope you can make the parallel right now personally. You’re not strong enough. You’re not smart enough. I don’t even need to know who you are to know you’re not strong enough and not smart enough to handle all of your problems on your own. You need God’s messiah as much as those Jews knew they needed God’s messiah, and that’s why they corner Jesus and ask him. Are you the one? Because only God’s messiah can make us safe. And if you have been marked with Jesus’s permanent ink, you’ve got nothing to worry about when the storms of life come, because the one who can stand on the bow of a ship and say the word peace and the storms are stilled, can speak the word peace in your life and your problems as well. 

God’s sheep are secure in Christ

So the first thing that I want to make sure you understand is that you are safe in the hands of God, and the second is I want you to understand that Jesus’ sheep are secure, that no one can snatch them out of God’s hands. 

So they asked Jesus very specific questions, and they’re asking for a specific answer. Jesus tells us plainly; they don’t let him off the hook because they surround him so that he can’t break out of the crowd until they ask him this yes or no question. Tell us yes or no, are you the one who claims to be the son of God? Because they realize we’re in deep trouble and we need his help. And if God’s son is here, then we don’t have to worry about the Romans anymore. When God’s son shows up, we don’t have to worry about our problems. We’re going to be taken care of because God has promised he will send his rescuer, who will take care of his people both here and forever. 

And they’re asking, Jesus, are you the one, are you the guy that we’re supposed to look for? And what they don’t understand is Jesus has already answered this question. He’s answered it in very clear, very powerful ways, but they totally missed it because he responds with his miracles. But still, they don’t see it. And so they’re trying to press him into a corner, and they’re trying to ask him, hey, are you the one? Because we’re not secure, we’re not going to be okay with God until God sends his son to take care of his people. 

I want to tell you about a guy named Richard Parsons. Richard Parsons is the second man in American history, an African American ever to become a Fortune 500 company CEO. In 2002, he took over as the leader of Time Warner corporation. After leading that company for many years, he became the leader of city Corp Citibank and the whole city financial industries before cancer caused him to step down from those companies. 

Richard grew up in very difficult circumstances. His parents and his grandparents helped raise him to be a young man who worked hard, studied hard, and gave his everything at school. He did well at school, but he had a lot of strikes against him. His grandfather was a gardener, and his grandfather just wanted something better for his children and grandchildren. The family that Richard’s grandfather worked for. Richard spent a lot of time around, and they started to notice there was something special about this guy. I mean, he’s not just brilliant, he’s not just hard-working, but he’s got leadership potential, and we need to talk to some of our friends and let them know just how special this guy is. 

You see, Richard’s grandfather was the head groundskeeper for one of the most powerful and influential families in America, Nelson Rockefeller. The Rockefeller family saw something special in Richard and started to talk to their friends and said, you just need to give him a try, I promise you he’s not gonna let you down. And when people gave Richard a shot, he didn’t let them down. Eventually, Richard made it to leading some of the biggest corporations in America at the time and led them very well for decades. Richard knows that my family connected with people that could help me get in the right doors and make the right relationships.

Once he got in those doors, it was all Richard’s hard work and his leadership that made him successful. The reason I’m sharing this story with you is that what you do here on earth matters in eternity, but I don’t ever want us to think by working hard, I’m going to be okay with God, like when I talk to people about their faith and when they’re not sure if they’re on their way to heaven, ultimately they have this belief system that thinks I hope my good deeds are going to outweigh my evil deeds. God will let me into heaven because I have a little bit more good than bad in my life. I tried to tell him no man, it’s who you know, it’s all about Jesus Christ and what he has done for you that secures your eternity, it is not about you, what you do here on earth matters, but it does not make a difference on your eternity. Your eternity is secure in the one who loves you and gave his life for you. 

God’s sheep are strong in Christ

You see, I need you to know that the third thing about God’s sheep if you have been marked and painted with the permanent ink of Jesus, I need you to know that your savior is strong enough to handle your problems in life. 

Jesus is cornered, This crowd is surrounding him, and these Jewish leaders ask him yes or no. You give us a yes or no one-word answer to a particular question. Are you the son of God or not? And did you notice that Jesus doesn’t give them a one-word answer? 

He doesn’t give them a one-word answer because he already knows what’s going on inside their heart. Hey, if you want to see if I’m the son of God, I want you to go back a couple of chapters in the book of John when I healed a man who has been crippled for decades, and he got up, and he walked on the sabbath, and he was carrying his mat with him. 

If you want to know if I’m the son of God, go back to a couple of chapters in this book when I healed a demon-possessed man. You want to know if I’m the son of God, go back to the last chapter when I healed a man who was born blind, and you thought even God couldn’t do that, and spoiler alert, you want to know if I’m the son of God, go to the very next chapter when I raise a man from the dead, that’s all you need to know. 

But they’ve seen these miracles, and they still refuse to believe, and they refused to believe because it’s winter. You see, two things are happening that are very important here, and John doesn’t want us to miss them, but you can skip right over this word winter if you’re not careful.

The Jews celebrated this festival of lights every year on the last day of their calendar, the last month of their calendar year, on the 25th of the month, there’d be a big celebration, they would bring the giant menorah in and for eight days they would light another candle. Everybody who knows the Jewish Christmas holidays recognizes what I’m talking about right now. 

They’re celebrating Hanukkah, and Hanukkah is not just looking back to the dedication of the temple. It’s looking forward to God’s coming rescuer, and Jesus is celebrating Hanukkah with them, and they corner him. 

It’s wintertime, and they corner him and ask him yes or no, are you the one? But when John uses the word winter, he’s not just talking that it’s cold outside. 

He’s telling you it’s cold inside their heart, and they have seen Jesus’ miracles, and as much as they have seen, they still refuse to believe it because their hearts are cold and callous, and they can’t see what’s right in front of them. 

Other people around them can see this must be the son of God because nobody can do what this guy is doing. Even the blind man literally can see this, but they can’t see it. And the reason they can’t see it is because they don’t belong to Jesus. They’re not part of his flock. 

And so they’re asking him, hey, give us a one-word answer, and he’s like, I’ll give you all kinds of proof that I’m the one. But no matter how much I prove to you, you still won’t believe it, and you won’t believe it because you’re not part of the flock, and you don’t belong. 

God’s sheep are sure in Christ

This brings me to number four. You and I, sons and daughters of the living God are sure we can be 100% sure about our relationship with God. And that surety comes from Jesus, not from us. 

You see, when I refer to Dawn, I use the word “my” to refer to her because she’s my wife. We were high school sweethearts, and she was my high school sweetheart. And when I talk about her, I talk about her in my relationship with her.

You cannot miss the most important word in this entire passage is only two letters. It’s the biggest word in the passage. Jesus says, my sheep hear me, and they hear me, and they know me because they’re mine, I belong to them, and they belong to me. 

I think what I want you to hear from me today is that belonging equals believing, and believing equals belonging. 

I belong because I believe Jesus said these are my sheep. I called out to him to the. They believed, and they belong, and they are my sheep. 

I belong because I believe, and I believe because I belong, 

You don’t belong because you don’t believe, and you don’t believe religious leaders because you don’t belong. 

And if you were listening maybe you’d start believing and when you start believing, maybe you would start belonging. 

What Jesus is saying here is they are sure, and they are certain, and they are secure in my hands, and you don’t have anything to worry about if you belong to Jesus because he’s saying it twice today, no one can take you out of the father’s hands. And by the way, I’ve got you in my hands, and no one can take you out of my hand.

I just want to make sure you don’t miss it, I and my father are one, and so if you’re in me and I’m in you, Jesus is saying you belong to my Father because I belong to the Father and you belong to me. 

The biggest word in this little passage is only two letters, and it’s the word my. Jesus is saying, these are my sheep. They hear, and they follow me. 

Did you know that the word follow means behave, they belong, and they believe and they behave because they’re mine and you really can’t behave it, and you don’t belong, and you won’t believe if you’re not his to begin with, which is essentially what Jesus is saying today. 

God’s sheep are sealed in Christ



The final point, Jesus’ sheep are sealed. I mean, it starts right here right now, Troy mentioned it last week when Jesus said, I give them life and more abundant life. And it starts right here right now.

Jesus’s sheep are sealed. The seal happens right now when you believe, and you start to belong to the great shepherd, and that seal continues for eternity; Jesus’ sheep are sealed. 

God’s flock is sealed in his son, Jesus Christ the theological topic that the bible is addressing today is sometimes referred to as Eternal security. Can you be 100% sure? There are billions of very religious people on the planet that are convinced you cannot be sure. You can hope you can work hard, you can pray that God will accept you into his family, but you cannot be sure.

Jesus is making it as obvious, no, you can be 100% certain. You can be rock-solid when you walk out this door. If you get hit, head-on by a car on the way home, you can be so certain that you have nothing to worry about when you place your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. 

The strength of our faith does not come from how much we believe the strength of our faith is in who you believe, not how much you believe. See one of the Great Puritan pastors, a guy who lived about 300 years ago wrote a book called the Unsearchable riches of Christ and he tried to explain it to his church this way. It’s like a mother and her child. 

In fact, here’s the quote from the book by Thomas Brooks. The Unsearchable riches of Christ. Thomas Brooks says the safety and the security lie not so much in the child, hanging about the mother’s neck as in the mother holding it fast in her arms. 

Then Thomas Brooks makes the analogy. Our safety and our security lie not so much in hold upon Christ. But in Christ holding us fast in His everlasting arms, that’s how you and I can be absolutely 100% rock solid. Sure, it’s not the strength of my faith. It’s who I’m putting my faith in.