John 10:22-30 (ESV)
22 At that time the Feast of Dedication took place at Jerusalem. It was winter, 23 and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the colonnade of Solomon. 24 So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.” 25 Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness about me, 26 but you do not believe because you are not among my sheep. 27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 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. 30 I and the Father are one.”
The Feast of Dedication was not one mandated in the Old Testament. It was added to commemorate the victory of God’s people over Antiochus Epiphanes, the Syrian leader who defiled and desecrated the temple in 167 BC. After this event, Judas Maccabaeus, a Jewish man, assembled an army of passionate Hebrews who became guerrilla fighters and took the temple back. The people celebrated for eight days, and according to tradition, a tiny amount of oil, only enough for one day, burned supernaturally for eight days in the sanctuary lamp that had been rededicated to the Lord. We know this event as Hanukkah, and even today Jewish families light a candle each day for eight consecutive days to remember this triumph. This festival was also known as the Feast of Lights. During this time, Jesus remained in the temple. The Colonnade of Solomon lay on the eastern side of the temple, which would have been warmer during the cold winter months. The Jews closed in on him and asked, “When are you going to tell us if you are the Christ?” They couldn’t wait to hear him just say it publicly. They were hoping Jesus was another Judas Maccabaeus who would overthrow the Roman government, but that simply wasn’t Jesus’ mission. They still didn’t recognize him because they were not his sheep. Jesus’ sheep listened to him, responded to his word, and followed him. The Jews who questioned him simply wanted political deliverance.
Jesus made a most remarkable statement about the eternal security of the believer in this passage. He said no one will snatch his sheep out of his hand, and no one will snatch them out of his Father’s hand either. Jesus declared that he has the Christian protected safely in his hand, and the Father has his hand over that! Those who follow Jesus are in God’s double hand-clasp. One hand in the clasp belongs to Jesus, and the other hand in the clasp belongs to the Father. Who can “rip off” what belongs to God? No one! There is no way anyone can harm the soul of the one who belongs to the Lord. Though this life may be difficult and filled with ups and downs, the believer is guaranteed to arrive safely at her destination in the next life. If you are a follower of Jesus, you are in the most secure place in the universe.