Sermon by Gareth Dicks 08.05.2022

St Mark’s Farnborough — “Belonging to Christ” (John 10:22-30)

I would like to talk about “belonging” this morning — all of us deep down want to belong, to be part of something, to be loved and accepted.

I was recently watching a recent documentary on the famous footballer Paul Gascoigne, for many years a household name and one of the most gifted footballers of a generation, and yet he has lived a very troubled life and something that the narrator said really stood out to me: “Paul Gascoigne really needed to be loved.”

I also believe that is also the case for every single one of us — we need to be loved, we need to accepted and to belong, but more significantly, this deep need in all of us can only be met in the person of The Lord Jesus Christ.

The great church Father St Augustine famously wrote:

“You stir man to take pleasure in praising You, because you have made us for yourself, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in you.”

As we look together at our Gospel reading this morning I would like to ask the question: Who do you belong to?

1. THE UNBELIEVER DOES NOT BELONG TO CHRIST

In our Bible reading it begins by telling us that it was the Feast of Dedication, Jesus was walking in the temple and the Jews all gathered around Him and they had asked Him “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.” (v24)

Now they were not asking this because they wanted to believe in Him but because they were looking to accuse Jesus of blasphemy and have Him killed. That is why Jesus responds by saying to them:

“I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness about me, but you do not believe because you are not among my sheep.” (v25-26)

If you read through John’s Gospel, you will see this heated dialogue rumbling on for several chapters — and in John 8:43 Jesus asks them “Why do you not understand what I say?”

Have you ever found yourself trying really hard to explain something to someone and it turns into this really frustrating argument where you are thinking to yourself “Why won’t you understand what I say? What is so hard about this? Are you thick between the ears or just being stubborn? What is wrong with you!”

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I think we’ve all been in situation like that — trying to get our point across and getting more and more frustrated with the person we’re trying to get our point across to...

But Jesus then goes on to answer His own question: “It is because you cannot bear to hear my word” — this is a refusal to accept the truth! They were not thick or stupid, they didn’t understand Jesus because they couldn’t bear to hear the truth!

That is why the Jews would not believe in Him... going back to John Chapter 10, Jesus says to them: “You do not believe because you are not among my sheep” — you do not believe because you do not belong to me!

This is why people reject God and refuse to believe that the Bible is the Word of God and that it is the truth that leads us to the person of The Lord Jesus Christ... that is the reason for reading the Bible, it’s not just to know more about God but it is to meet with the person of The Lord Jesus Christ.

A person who does not belong to Christ will deny the truth that is clearly evident and clear to see.

We see a clear example of that in just the previous chapter in John 9, where Jesus heals a blind man — which I absolutely love because this exchange plays out almost like a comedy sketch...

John 9 - the blind man

At the beginning of John Ch 9, Jesus and His disciples were walking past the temple they saw a blind beggar, now rather than wanting to help the man - the disciples decided to have a philosophical debate about him “now here is an interesting case - whose fault was it that this man was born blind — was it his fault or his parents fault?”

Which is a rather stupid thing to say, because if the man was born blind, then how could it possibly be his fault?

So Jesus puts them right and says “it was nobody’s fault that this man was born blind, it was so that the works of God could be displayed in him.”

And Jesus healed this man’s sight - an astonishing miracle, since he had been blind his whole life.

Now many of the people in the town knew this man — he was “blind Dave” who always sat in the same place begging and they were amazed by the sight of him now able to see and they’re all talking about it: “look it’s blind Dave - and he’s not blind anymore!”

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“No it can’t be him, it just looks like him” but this man said “no I am the man - I can see now!”

So they all asked him how he was healed and he told them what Jesus had done and how He had healed his sight.

Now this is where the Pharisees turn up — these were the elite religious rulers who had been arguing with Jesus in the temple for ages before this event, and they see this blind man who has been healed and they tried to deny it on the grounds that this healing had happened on the Sabbath and that by breaking the Sabbath, Jesus must be a sinner.

You want to see what a religious spirit looks like — that’s what it looks like, it is mean and ugly, God gave man the Sabbath in order to rest and to focus his attention away from work and onto God, and here is the Son of God in there midst and rather than worship Jesus they were trying to accuse Him and deny Him.

They did not believe that he had been blind and received his sight so they bring his parents in — like this a grown man and they need to get his parents in to ask them, and the man’s parents say “yes, that’s right - he was born blind - but he’s old enough to speak for himself, why don’t you ask him!”

Unbelief denies that which is in plain sight — the great irony of all this is the fact that the spiritual blindness of these Pharisees led to them denying and arguing against the clear facts that were presented to them that Jesus had miraculously healed this man’s sight.

So they kept asking him and trying to manipulate him into saying that Jesus was a sinner and this man famously says to them:

“Whether He is a sinner I do not know. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see!” (9:25)

We know those words from John Newton’s famous hymn “Amazing Grace” — and it is the testimony of a true believer “I was once blind, but now I see — Jesus has opened my eyes and now I see and I believe in Him! I used to live in spiritual darkness and now my eyes have been opened I live in the light of His glorious grace and forgiveness.”

Every Christian has their testimony — mine was when I was 23 years old and whilst reading Matthew’s Gospel in my room one afternoon, God opened my eyes to the fact that I was a sinner who was lost and under condemnation and I needed to surrender my life fully to Jesus Christ as my Saviour and my Lord.

Later on in the story, this man who was once blind also worships Jesus “Lord I believe!” — it is not by our own efforts or good works that we are saved, but by believing in the Lord Jesus Christ.

2. A TRUE CHRISTIAN KNOWS AND FOLLOWS CHRIST

Going back to John Chapter 10, Jesus says in v27:

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me”

The Lord Jesus refers to His people as His “sheep” — if you were out walking across the fields and came to a field of sheep you will notice that the sheep will all very suspicious of you and they will run away from you if you get too close. But when the farmer turns up with their food they will hear his voice and come running towards him!

Sheep will only respond to the voice of their own, they won’t follow anyone else and in the same way a true Christian knows the voice of Christ and follows Him — there is a deep bond that comes from belonging to Christ.

Jesus also says in v29 “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.”

The true Christian belongs to Christ, they are able to say He is MY Lord and MY Saviour — can you say that of Jesus Christ this morning? “I am His and He is mine — He is my Lord and my Saviour.”

Scottish orphan shepherd boy

There was a young orphan boy who lived with his grandfather who was a shepherd in the Highlands in Scotland and he would watch over his grandfather’s sheep with him. His grandfather was a strong Christian man and because his grandson couldn’t read he taught a simple way of remembering the opening line from Psalm 23 — he took the boy’s left hand and as he said the opening five words “The Lord is my Shepherd” he would point to each of his five fingers. He noticed that the boy when he said the fourth word “MY” the boy would grip his fourth finger tightly — “The Lord is MY shepherd.” As the boy got old enough to tend to the sheep on his own, on one terrible evening the weather got very cold and there was a snow blizzard that was so bad that the boy’s grandfather couldn’t find him.

The next morning, when the snow had stopped the old man rushed out looking for his grandson and tragically he found a mound in the snow with the boy’s frozen body underneath it. But the old man as he wept bitterly and brushed the snow away saw that the boy’s hands were clasped in a strange way — His right hand was firmly gripping the fourth finger of his left hand, and the old man remembered how he had taught the young lad to say ‘The Lord is my shepherd” holding a finger for each word — and the boy in his dying moments was holding his fourth finger, “The Lord is MY Shepherd.”

There really isn’t anything complicated about being a Christian, it’s as simple as saying “The Lord is MY Shepherd” He is MY redeemer, MY Lord and MY Saviour...

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3. A TRUE CHRISTIAN HAS ETERNAL LIFE

Lastly, in v28 Jesus says:

“I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.”

That is why Jesus came to earth and went to the Cross — “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” (3:16)

That is why Christ came into this world and to the Cross, in order to “lay down His life for the sheep” (v14) and the prophet Isaiah explains why: “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned — every one — to his own way; and the LORD laid on Him, the iniquity of us all.” (Is 53:6)

Everybody is bad

A lot people think that there are two kinds of people in this world, good people and bad people — many of our films and dramas teach us to cheer on the good guys and want to see the bad guys get what they deserve. We now watch what is going with this tragic war in Europe and Putin is the evil man that we all want to see stopped.

But the Bible tells us that we are all bad we are all evil, there are no good people and bad people — there are only bad people and then bad people who know that they are bad and need salvation and forgiveness.

Salvation begins with a right view of God and of ourselves — I am sinner and a rebel against God, and I need forgiveness that can come through faith in Jesus Christ, and that He died on that Cross in my place for my sin.

When a sinner puts their faith in Christ, God takes our sin and shame and puts it onto Christ and puts His righteousness onto us and declares us as righteous.

We cannot earn our salvation with good works, doing good things won’t get you to heaven, coming to church and taking communion every Sunday won’t get you to heaven — salvation comes by Grace Alone, through Faith Alone in Christ Alone.

Belonging to God

So to close my message this morning, I began by talking about belonging and asking the question of who do you belong to?

I wonder how you think of God this morning, the more to people you realise how we can all have different ideas about God, what He is like and who He is...

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Maybe you think that God is really disappointed with you, perhaps your earthly father was disappointed with you a lot of the time and maybe you had a sibling that he preferred... and so you think that God is like that, that God is just really disappointed with you all the time, no matter what you do to try and please Him...

Or maybe you think of God as being really angry, with lightening bolts in his hands wanting to smite you... Or perhaps you think of God as very disinterested deity who doesn’t care about little you and you’re just irrelevant to Him...

But if you want to know what God is really like — look at His Son Jesus Christ, “the image of the invisible God” see how kind and gentle He is, see His great compassion and love, look at His nail-scarred hands stretched out to you where He bore your sin and shame on the Cross and shed His blood for your redemption, so that you could be forgiven and adopted into His family.

The Gospel writer John also writes in 1 John 3:1:

“See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God.”

Do you belong to Christ this morning? Do you know the joy of salvation and the great hope of eternal life?