Sermons Updates

Life on Both Sides of the Jordan (John 10:22-42) – Mark Ottaway

Living for Eternity

Life on Both Sides of the Jordan  

John 10:22-42


Turn to John 10. It is always good as we continue to go through our study in the Gospel of John. By the way, this is week #20, to remind ourselves of John’s theme:

“[B]ut these [things] have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.”

John 20:30-31 (LSB)


As I have had the privilege to go through these passages each week, I have just marveled at the depth of John’s teaching, and the many angles that he comes from to convict us to belief. Argument after argument, it is all through the gospel! And this is why when you have been witnessing to someone about Christ, to direct them to the Gospel of John, as every verse brings an argument that Jesus is the Christ, and this week is no exception. I have entitled this sermon, Life on Both Sides of the Jordan. I do not know if you noticed it or not in your reading, but (vs 22-39) on this side, and (vs 40-42) on the other side. So, let’s begin with life on this side of the Jordan.

“At that time the Feast of the Dedication took place at Jerusalem.”

John 10:22 (LSB)


Now the mention of the Feast of Dedication here is interesting as this was not a feast from the Old Testament, though this does not mean that it did not honour God for His goodness to them. It was a celebration of their more recent recapturing of the temple under Judas Maccabaeus between the Old Testament and New Testament, where the Jews revolted and took back the temple. It was an 8-day celebration. It was also called the Feast of Lights or we know it as Hanukkah, and much of the celebration is similar to our Christmas celebration in some of its display, though of course, the Jews would not be celebrating Christ.

“it was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple in the Portico of Solomon.”

John 10:23 (LSB)


Some suggest that this is why He was now teaching in the Portico of Solomon because it was cooler outside, as this would have provided some shelter. We read about this place elsewhere in the New Testament as a meeting place for new believers. In Acts 3:11, believers were in awe of some of the miracles of Peter and John and came to listen to them at Solomon’s Portico. In Acts 5:12 we read:

“Now at the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were happening among the people, and they were all with one accord in Solomon’s Portico.”

Acts 5:12 (LSB)


“The Jews then gathered around Him, and were saying to Him, ‘How long will You keep us in suspense? If You are the Christ, tell us openly.’”

John 10:24 (LSB)


The Greek can mean more in a positive sense here, how long will You keep us in suspense? But more negatively, how long are You going to annoy us? It is likely the second is closer and therefore the Jews are only looking for a clear statement so they could arrest or even kill Christ. Jesus seemed to want to avoid the exact term “Messiah” or “Christ” as it would have meant government revolt in His day. He seemed to prefer to have His works speak for themselves.

“Jesus answered them, ‘I told you, and you do not believe; the works that I do in My Father’s name, these bear witness of Me.’”

John 10:25 (LSB)


Now we need to know that their understanding of the Messiah would not have been what Jesus had come to do anyway. D. A. Carson writes:

“Their notions of messiahship could not embrace a suffering servant or a kingdom not immediately political and military.”

  1. A. Carson, The Gospel According to John 392


Yet if they had listened to Him carefully and saw the things He did, they would have known that He was the Messiah. He said in John 5:

“But the witness I have is greater than the witness of John; for the works which the Father has given Me to finish—the very works that I do—bear witness about Me, that the Father has sent Me.”

John 5:36 (LSB)


Understand that they were only looking to be rid of Christ. They were not seeking Him in the sense of believing in Him or truly wanting to understand what he was teaching. So, Jesus says here that he had told them, though not directly to them. But He did say this directly to the woman at the well and the man born blind. But the main thrust of His argument was that they need only look at the things that He did. In other words, consider the miracles I have done. (John 5) He healed the man at the Pool of Bethesda. (John 6) He fed the 5,000 and He walked on the water. (John 6) He also referred to Himself as the bread of life. (John 9) He healed the man born blind. And He was pretty clear that He believed Himself to be more than merely a Man, as He said things like (John 10:27) “My sheep hear My voice.”

“But you do not believe because you are not of My sheep.”

John 10:26 (LSB)


Here Jesus gives us the age-old paradox of the Bible, two truths that we can never harmonize. “You do not believe.” God’s condemnation, that man is completely responsible for his response to Christ. “Because you are not My sheep.” That God is completely sovereign in His election of His own. He goes on in verse 27:

“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.”

John 10:27 (LSB)


Jesus makes two points here. Those who are His sheep hear His voice. And those who are not His sheep do not hear His voice. So, we are not talking here about something that is strictly intellectual, as there is more going on here than just pure education or mental assent to a belief system. The phrase “you do not believe because you are not My sheep,” gives, as the Bible does often, a predestination teaching here. That those who believe are predetermined. In other words, you must be one of Christ’s sheep in order to believe. Yet it does not leave anyone off the hook here. For we learned a few weeks ago that unbelief is not a simple thought that I didn’t know or I do not understand. No, the Bible is clear that unbelief is a rejection of truth. Therefore, to say that there is no God must be a rebellious rejection of what is clear before everyone’s eyes.


Last Sunday there were a number of folks at the Life-Chain event in Strathroy, and I know there were some of you at the one in Forest, which is described as a peaceful, prayerful pro-life witness. We had a few supporters who passed by in vehicles. The vast majority who do not acknowledge this, and a number of those in opposition. One young woman asked me why I did not have anything better to do. Fortunately, she was at a red light, so she could not get away. So, we talked for a few seconds, and she told me that God was okay with abortion. And the gentleman sitting beside her said that he did not believe there was a God anyway. And then the light changed and they were gone. But it would have been nice to talk with them more, though you can see the anger and hatred against us for merely standing up for the unborn. But to be able to calmly explain to them, so, you believe that you are here and everyone else is here and there are minds and cells and butterflies and rivers and resources to be able to live and that people have a conscience and that birds can fly, and fish can swim and that all this happened by a Big Bang or some other kind of chance. I thought they must have a much greater faith than I do. We, who, conclude that there must be a God, a Mastermind behind creation. For to believe anything else is quite bizarre, but is also proof of man’s natural unwillingness not to believe.

“and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish—ever; and no one will snatch them out of My hand.”

John 10:28 (LSB)


Yes, man is responsible. Yet what we see on the other side is the sovereign work of God, that our salvation is never just dangling from our meager strength. Jesus has just said (vs 10) that He gives them abundant life. Now He says that He gives them eternal life, and the opposite of eternal life is that they will perish.

“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.”

John 10:29 (LSB)


Everything that Jesus does is in connection with the Father. Jesus always made it clear that those who are saved are those who have been given to Him by the Father, as His whole life is in the hands of the Father. John 6:37, “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me.” We never see Jesus as the perfect human act outside of the Father’s will. Jesus said in John 17:12:

“While I was with them, I was keeping them in Your name which You have given Me; and I guarded them and not one of them perished but the son of perdition [Judas], so that the Scripture would be fulfilled.”

John 17:12 (LSB)


Everything we have “in Christ” is tied in with the Father. Everything we have been given is the plan of the Father and that plan is being accomplished by the work of Christ. Christ, who was willing to do everything the Father asked Him to do. Jesus will now come out with a famous theological statement:

“I and the Father are one.”

John 10:30 (LSB)


In a mysterious way, They are one in essence, one in being, yet still distinct in person. For God is referred to as Jesus’ Father, Jesus prays to the Father, Jesus is obedient to the Father. But that they are perfectly one in action. Their wills are one, what Jesus wills, God wills; and what God wills, Jesus wills. Four points given by D. A. Carson to help us understand this. One, Jesus has already been declared as the Word who was God (John 1). Therefore, it is even more than just the same will or action, as these words also give a claim to the deity of Christ. Two, in (5:16) the Jews understood that he was claiming to be God for they accused Him of speaking blasphemy. Three, the oneness of will is not just carrying out ministry or tasks as we might for God. But the oneness also means that Jesus’ will is and was part of the Father’s in eternity past, for His words also infer an eternity past assignment. “Before Abraham was ‘I am.’” He speaks of Himself as the Eternal God. Jesus is spoken of by Paul as the Creator of the heavens and the earth. And in John 17:10, Jesus said:

“[A]nd all things that are Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine; and I have been glorified in them.”

John 17:10 (LSB)


Finally, the Bible also teaches that though we are children of God, Jesus is the Son of God. For He is the Good Shepherd. He is the One who has come down from heaven. He is the One who has given His life for the sheep. He is the Light of the world. In Hebrews 1, Jesus “is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power.”


And I want to pause here and give to you a thought about theology, as I know that some of you might relish it more than others. But there is no such thing as meaningless truths about God. But just consider how Jesus arrived at His statement, “I and the Father are one.” He arrives here after speaking about the security of the Christian because he is in (vs 28) the hand of Christ, and then He says that the Christian is in the hand (vs 29) of the Father. This alone should teach us such unity between the Father and the Son. That the God who led Israel in the Old Testament, the God who led Abraham, Moses, David, and Daniel, that same God holds you in His hand. And Jesus Christ who came to the earth, who lived for you, who died for you, and who was resurrected for you, He too holds you in His hand. There is no disconnect between the Person of the Father and the Person of Christ. There is no disconnect between the Old Testament God and the New Testament God. All are God as revealed in three persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. And as we see the love and security of the Father and the Son given to us, Romans 5:5 says that the “love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” Theology matters!

“The Jews picked up stones again to stone Him. Jesus answered them, ‘I showed you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you stoning Me?’ The Jews answered Him, ‘For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy; and because You, being a man, make Yourself God.’”

John 10:31-33 (LSB)


So, we learn that they understood what he was teaching. I suppose we could say that the Christian is well aware that Jesus claimed to be God. But we could also say that these unbelieving Jews here were well aware that Jesus claimed to be God. They say, you being a man, make Yourself God. Carson said:

“Jesus, a mere mortal, claims to be God, lining himself up on the unbridgeable chasm that separates the transcendent, infinite creator from his finite and fallen creatures.”

  1. A. Carson (396)


In reality, however, the Jews’ accusation though partly true was not completely true. For Jesus did not make Himself God, for He has already been revealed as the Eternal Word. The Word that was with God and the Word that was God. Jesus, the Son of God, has always been God. The only thing that has changed is the Eternal Son, Jesus Christ, has now become a Man. It is interesting here that the Jews accuse Jesus of blasphemy. Now blasphemy is not only making oneself equal with God, it is also anything (in your notes) that states or believes what is contrary to the truth about God. So, here they accuse Jesus of committing blasphemy, and of course, they were wrong for Jesus was God. But in actuality they committed blasphemy, for they had God standing before them, the Creator of the universe, and they would not acknowledge Him. Just as the world commits blasphemy today, as they do not believe in Christ, saying that He did not die on a cross, that He did not rise from the dead, or that He is not coming back. For blasphemy is the rejection of the truth about God.


And this is what man will be held accountable for someday, of what man does with Jesus Christ. Did he acknowledge Christ as God, or did he deny Christ? Some people may wish to call themselves agnostic, meaning that they believe that nothing is known or can be known of the existence or nature of God. A person who claims neither faith nor disbelief in God. But this too is blasphemy, for God has revealed Himself to all mankind, and man has chosen to reject that clear revelation of His being. Jesus goes on:

“Jesus answered them, ‘Has it not been written in your Law, “I said, you are gods” If he called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken), do you say of Him, whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, “You are blaspheming,” because I said, “I am the Son of God”?’”

John 10:24-26 (LSB)


Jesus points to their Law which refers to the entire Old Testament Scriptures. And the passage which Jesus references in Psalm 82 says:

5 “They do not know and do not understand; They walk about in darkness; All the foundations of the earth are shaken.

6 I said, “You are gods, And all of you are sons of the Most High.

7 Nevertheless you will die like men And you will fall like any one of the princes.”

8 Arise, O God, judge the earth! For it is You who will inherit all the nations.

Ps 82:5-8 (LSB)


This is believed to be words about the judges of Israel in the Old Testament, as the Lord condemned them in the Psalm for their unjust ways and sinful rebellion. Jesus is stating here that if these judges are called gods (and they are called gods as they are to rule in the place of God as His representatives), and Jesus adds that the words of Scripture cannot be broken or changed. And Jesus’ argument is how could it be wrong to call Jesus, the one who has been appointed by God, the Son of God, when even these rebellious leaders are called gods. Now Leon Morris will help us with this saying:

“This passage is sometimes misinterpreted as though Jesus was simply classing himself with men in general. [some may think that] He appeals to the psalm that speaks of men as “gods,” so runs the reasoning, and thus justifies his speaking of himself as the Son of God. He is “god” in the same sense as others. But this is not taking seriously enough what Jesus actually says. He is arguing from the less to the greater. If the word god could be used of people who were no more than judges, how much more could it be used of one with greater dignity, greater importance and significance than any mere judge, one ‘whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world’? He is not placing himself on a level with men, but setting himself apart from them.” [or we could say setting Himself infinitely above them]

Leon Morris, Reflections on the Gospel of John 396


So, Jesus goes on:

“If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; but if I do them, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, so that you may know and continue knowing that the Father is in Me, and I in the Father.”

John 10:37-38 (LSB)


Again, there is a sense that Jesus insists that they believe in Him not by His words, but by His works. True, we believe the words of Jesus, but we also must believe the works of Jesus. For the works of Jesus are a confirmation of every single word spoken by Christ. For when we know that every work of Jesus is true, we also know that the Scriptures are true, as they are a revelation of Christ. Those in the Old Testament prophesied of Christ, and those in the New Testament were taught by Christ. And as Kevin DeYoung said we can confidently believe everything we learned in Sunday School, as we can read God’s Word and know what God has said. For how could Jesus have ever come to the earth and do what He did and not be who He claimed to be. Now others have chosen to question this. Rob Bell, who claims to be a Christian, yet whose theology is far outside of what the Bible teaches. His wife Kristen wrote this:

“I grew up thinking that we’ve figured out the Bible, that we knew what it means. Now I have no idea what most of it means. And yet I feel like life is big again–like life used to be black and white, and now it’s in color.’”

Kristen Bell


In other words, she can no longer take the Bible as clear truth, but can allow herself to question anything that does not align with her human understanding. And what Rob Bell and his wife fail to understand and what millions of the now followers of similar thinking fail to understand is that Jesus lived a perfect life and He performed the miraculous, which confirmed every word of the Scriptures. Scriptures that told of His coming and the Scriptures that told of His teaching and the works that he would do, and Scriptures that explained to us the gospel. Here is the importance of believing everything that Jesus said, and believing everything that Jesus ever did, as these two things cannot be separated.


And we may say, yes Mark I do believe that. But be careful Dads that you don’t sit at the supper table complaining about this or that. Worrying about this problem or being uncertain about what tomorrow may bring. All kinds of talk that might convey to our children that we have no confidence in Christ and what Jesus has said. That yes, we do go through uncertainties, struggles, difficulties, and challenges. But the resolve of the true believer must be like Job’s, who through great difficulty said, “For I know that My Redeemer lives.” That Jesus was clear to these Jews, as His teaching about who He was, is actually confirmed by the response of these men.

“Therefore they were seeking again to seize Him, and He eluded their grasp.”

John 10:39 (LSB)


The inability of these men to take hold of Jesus was as feeble as the attempt in John 7:30. And the reason was the same, for His time had not yet come. So, here we see life on this side of the Jordan, the challenge for you and me to defend the truth. And to have resolve for what we believe, that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of God. Let’s pray. Father, give us courage, eagerness, and wisdom, as we proclaim Christ to an unbelieving world. Amen. The chapter does not end on this side of the Jordan, for look what happens.

“And He went away again beyond the Jordan to the place where John was first baptizing, and He was staying there. And many came to Him and were saying, ‘While John did no sign, yet everything John said about this man was true.’ And many believed in Him there.”

John 10:40-42 (LSB)


This gives us such a balance in the Christian life. For there are times when we are going to have to defend the Bible against those who just will not believe, and here we have Jesus battling against great opposition. But now He retreats to a place where John had been teaching. I have been in situations in the past at work, like you, before becoming a pastor where I am the only Christian in the crowd. Where everyone around you does not believe in Christ. I remember when selling kitchens, I used to plan a floor hockey tournament once a year, where many from work would come and we would play floor hockey and then I would treat them to pizza after and pop. And it was always an unusual feeling, but also a privilege to be able to pray before we ate. I also remember being at sales meetings and the sales rep would provide supper, and it just seemed odd not to have him pray before eating or at the close of the meeting. This was life on this side of the Jordan.


As a pastor, I have also preached at funerals, where you may get asked by someone who loves the Lord to do their parent’s funeral or spouse’s funeral. And yet the vast amount of the family and all those who attend are not believers, though it is a great opportunity. And as you preach you can almost feel the hostility of those in attendance, who really despise much of the truth of Christianity. Living life still on this side of the Jordan. When I first got into selling kitchens, I was looking for higher-end cabinets to sell, and I ended up going to a sales seminar in Adrian, Michigan at Merillat Cabinets in the U. S. And I was used to seminars which were mostly about sales, and trying to increase sales and increase profits. Yet the first session I attended was about ethics, and the main theme was that if you tell the customer something, it better be the truth. And of course, I thought that this was really odd, but great! And later we all went out for supper and the Merillat sales rep prayed before we ate! It seemed like I had crossed the Jordan! I found out later that the original owner of Merillat Kitchens was Orval Merillat, a devout Christian, and there were still many Christians within that company. And I had the privilege of selling Merillat kitchens for many years after that.


Sometimes we enjoy those times of retreat, don’t we? Where every Sunday we get to go to church or times we might attend a Bible conference or Christian concert. And the spirit and truth of the Sunday or the conference are such a blessing, the music, the worship, and the Word. You can almost imagine Christ coming to this location where John had earlier spoken about Him, and He gets there and they welcome Him. Ahh! You are the Christ that John spoke about, come and teach us! Yes, God wants to use us on both sides of the Jordan, during those times of opposition, and during those blessed times of retreat. Let’s pray. Lord, Your desire is that as we grow in our Christian walk, is that we become more and more like Jesus Christ, who faced opposition and persecution and who eventually went to the cross on our behalf. So, may we defend our faith well. May we be clear to others of who Jesus is. And may we relish those times of refreshing. And all God’s people said, amen.