My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and 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 the Father's hand. I and the Father are one. (John 10:27-30)
These words from Jesus have been constantly rattling around in my mind for the last few months. I find that most of us question Jesus’ attentiveness, goodness, and ability to care when there is a personal struggle, doubt, depression, or extremely hard life situation. Anytime I find myself in one of those spots, or am meeting with someone who is, the Spirit is always quick to remind me of this specific passage.
Many theologians have quoted John 10:27-30 as support for the doctrine of perseverance of the saints, which is basically this: those who have been saved by Jesus’ work on the cross cannot be unsaved. Those who were once lost and now found cannot be lost once again. There is nothing that one could do to forfeit the free gift of salvation given to us.
I whole-heartedly agree with this and believe that many sitting in our congregation week after week agree too. But if we are being honest, we feel as if it is only a tiny thread that is keeping us attached to this promise, and that when life hits with unexpected news, hardship, trial, or emergency that thread can snap and break under the added weight. Some of us may even be walking around with the notion that with the wrong slip up in sin God will take his scissors and cut that thread, causing us to fall away.
Fret not son or daughter of God, co-heir with Christ - Jesus truly meant what he said in John 10. Nothing can pull you away from Him. I pray we would grow in the belief that when Jesus tells us that we are His, we forever are. So here are a few things I want to encourage you in today from this passage.
1) Don’t Believe in What I Call “Slippery Soap Syndrome.”
You know when you’re in the shower and the soap slips out of your hands and you catch it, but the tightness of your grip and speed of grasp only makes it to pop up into the air once again before it falls to the bottom of the shower? You are not that bar of soap in the hands of God. God has a firm grasp on you and there is nothing that will cause you to pop out and fly through the air with an uncertainty of being caught. Jesus says it twice in this passage - you are safe in the hands of God.
2) Two Sets of Hands
As if an insurance policy was needed on this promise, Jesus ups the ante a bit and promises that the One who put you into Jesus’ hands also has you in His hands, and absolutely no one will be able to get you out of the protective grip of your Father in heaven.
3) This Doesn’t Mean There Isn't Conflict
Jesus uses the word “snatch” twice as if there is a battle going on. Don’t be surprised when trials and adversity come. Jesus alludes to the fact that there are some who want to take you away from God. Satan and his demons want to deceive you into thinking that you’re not safe in Jesus’ hands, that you’re better off on your own, or that Jesus can’t possible handle you – don’t believe those lies. Jesus will not let them snatch you away. Paul even mentions in Romans 8:35-39 that absolutely nothing will be able to separate us from the love of Christ. What’s amazing about this promise is that the strength of Jesus’ grip is not equal to the strength of your faith. Though you may feel weak and frail and easily tempted, Jesus’ grip is not one that can be pried open.
4) You Cannot Wriggle Out
Speaking of prying open, even you cannot pry yourself out of the hands of Jesus. I have met many, including myself, who thought for a period of time that I could walk away from Jesus whenever I wanted. But Jesus tells us here that he has never let go of one who He has gotten a hold of. There may be some of you right now who have left the church, or are thinking about leaving, but do you really think He’ll let you walk away from his loving grip? Some of you may even be thinking about those you’ve been in community with that are no longer with us. John even mentions people like this in 1 John 2:19, but don’t be discouraged and don’t give up praying – Jesus loves going after those who wander.
5) Jesus’ Grip is Not Smothering
Some of us may feel at times that God is so close to us that we can’t move or get freedom. Or, that Jesus is only trying to oppress and stifle our joy. But I’d like to remind you of a passage just a bit later in the Gospel of John, after Jesus tells us that nothing will snatch us away, where He also tells us that in Him we will have the fullest of joy (John 15:11). Nothing outside of Him, or should I say His grip, will give us the fulfillment and joy that being safely placed in His hands does.