For those who seek Him, what is required of us? What makes us acceptable to God?
When we seek Him, is it miracles and signs we desire?
After Jesus feeds the 5,000 or perhaps it’s the time He feeds the 4,000, those who follow after Him ask similar questions:
28 “What can we do to perform the works of God?” they ask.
29 Jesus replies, “This is the work of God—that you believe in the One He has sent.”
30 “What sign then are You going to do so we may see and believe You?” they ask. “What are You going to perform?
“I assure you: You are looking for Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate the loaves and were filled. Don’t work for the food that perishes but for the food that lasts for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal of approval on Him.” (John 6: 26-27)
Several doors exist to a legendary walled garden. The wall is massive, taller than any you’ve seen before. Behind the wall is a pasture filled with wildflowers and massive trees with golden waterfalls and still, sweet water lakes. You’ve not been inside yet, but you know the garden exists; you hope it does. Here on the outside, the grass has long died and dust kicks up from the ground into your eyes. The odor of the dead surrounds you, and you want to escape.
All the doors in the walled garden speak – very strange. All tell you they are the only way into the garden. Only one door stands open, however. This door has a Name because it is a Person rather than a thing. The other doors shout or whisper, “You must find the key and hope it fits.”
But, the open door says:
“Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. I am the door. If any man shall enter by me, he shall be saved; and he shall go in, and shall go out, and he shall find pastures. A night thief cometh not, but that he steal, slay, and destroy; and I came, that they have life, and have more plenteously.”
Jesus promises that His sheep listen to His voice and follow after Him because He knows them. He says that he “gives them eternal life and they never perish; no one [is able to] snatch them from [His] care.” God the Father who is “greater than all” gives Jesus the sheep “and no one can snatch them out of the Father’s care.” Then Jesus reminds us that He and His Father are One.
Jesus tells the Jews to believe Him because His deeds show that the Father is in Him and He is in the Father. (John 10:37-38) The author of Hebrews tells us that “faith gives substance to our hopes, and makes us certain of realities we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1)
Our reality is that our salvation is secure — God is more powerful than anything in the universe, and He is able to sustain us. Paul writes that he is convinced that “nothing in death or life, in the realm of spirits or superhuman powers, in the world as it is or the world as it shall be, in the forces of the universe, in heights or depths — nothing in all creation can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39)
Jesus promises the same blessed assurance. Therefore, the hymn: “This is my story; this is my song — praising my Savior all the day long. Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine. Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine. Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood. This is my story; this is my song!”
After raising Lazarus from the dead — the very next day, in fact — Jesus heads towards Jerusalem to celebrate the Jewish Passover. Pilgrims who heard of the resurrection “come out to meet [Jesus], shouting, ‘Hosanna [Save!] Blessings on Him who comes in the Name of the Lord!'”
“The people present when [Jesus] called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead tell what they saw and heard. That is why the crowd goes to meet Him; they heard of this sign He performed.” (John 12:17-18)
In raising Lazarus, Jesus demonstrates His power is equivalent to the power of God, the Father. And, Jesus shows us emerging from the grave is possible, even before His own resurrection. Jesus says to Martha, Lazarus’ sister, “‘Did I not tell you that if you have faith you will see the glory of God?'” (John 11:40-41) while commanding, “‘Take away the stone.'” (John 11:39)
“The man who loves himself is lost.” (John 12:25) “A grain of wheat remains a solitary grain unless it falls into the ground and dies; but if it dies, it bears a rich harvest.” (John 12:24)
Jesus rides the colt of a donkey into Jerusalem. He says, “‘Now My soul is in turmoil, and what am I to say? Father, save Me from this hour? No, it was for this that I came to this hour. Father, glorify Your Name.’ A voice sounds from heaven: ‘I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.'” (John 12:27-29)
“Jesus says, ‘ I Am the resurrection and I Am life. If a man has faith in Me, even though he die, he shall come to life; and no one who is alive and has faith shall ever die.’ “
Here Jesus does seem to be saying that with a proper amount of faith, one need not die. And of course, since Jesus says that faith as small as a mustard seed can accomplish the placement of a mountain into the sea, it does seem possible to forestall or perhaps completely eliminate death.
Nevertheless, in this context, we find Jesus comforting Martha, who has just lost her brother Lazarus to the grave. Martha has confirmed to her Lord that she knows He can ask anything of God the Father and it will be done. She also acknowledges that Lazarus will rise “at the resurrection on the last day.” (John 11:24) Jesus tells her that she need not wait. Lazarus will rise from the dead now. Jesus confirms His power over death; that the grave is incapable of holding those who belong to Christ.
Mary, the sister of Martha, also acknowledges that if Jesus had been present, Lazarus would never have died.
Seeing Mary’s sadness, Jesus weeps for her, for Martha, for Lazarus and I do believe for Himself — for He has lost a good friend and brother.
Jesus commands that the stone be removed; then He prays. “Did I not tell you that if you have faith you will see the glory of God?” (John 11:40) He commands Lazarus to “Come forth.” (John 11:43) Lazarus obeys, walking out of his grave.
Jesus commands, “Loose him; let him go.” (John 11:44) Death releases its captive.
“So Jesus speaks again: ‘In truth, in very truth I tell you, I Am the door of the sheepfold. The sheep paid no heed to any who came before Me, for these were all thieves and robbers. I Am the door; anyone who comes into the fold through Me shall be safe. He shall go in and out and shall find pasturage. The thief comes only to steal, to kill, to destroy; I have come that men may have life, and may have it in all its fullness.’ ”
Jesus speaks of the thief climbing over the wall to enter the sheepfold in another way. The thief enters the sheepfold in order “to steal, to kill, to destroy” the sheep — sheep which do not belong to him. The thief is not the door into the fold. He is the one who must climb into the fold in an unorthodox way. He is actually most likely the “wolf in sheep’s clothing,” trying to fool his neighbors into believing he is one of them.
Jesus says His sheep do not pay attention to others, but only to Him. His sheep hear His voice, and follow Him into a safe pasture. There, in safety, Jesus’ sheep have the fullness of life.
This life is possible because Jesus is the door to it. The sheep are able to “go in and out” without fear of getting lost. Once a sheep has located the door, who is Jesus Christ, the pasture is easy to find. The world is no longer a dark place for the light shines through the door. Safe passage is guaranteed.