Then came the Feast of Dedication at Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was in the temple area walking in Solomon's Colonnade. The Jews gathered around him, saying, "How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ [Messiah], tell us plainly." (John 10:22-24)
Who are the "Jews" who gathered around him?
As other verses in John indicate, the crowd likely maintained a mix of Jewish citizens, pharisees, temple officials and possibly even a high priest.
Notice the continuing reference to "sheep" as his followers. This carries over the parable of the sheep and the sheep pen, which apparently took place near the Pool of Siloam in the City of David, Jerusalem, some time before this current statement.
"The miracles I do in my Father's Name speak for me."
The Greek word being translated* to "Name" is ὄνομα (onoma). This refers not just to someone's formal name, but, as indicated in the lexicon, 'the name is used for everything which the name covers, everything the thought or feeling of which is aroused in the mind by mentioning, hearing, remembering.'
So when Jesus says "in my Father's Name" he is speaking of the power of God’s Holy Name. And the authority by which that power yields.
Not only that, but Jesus says these miracles "I do in my Father's Name" "speak" for Jesus. This is like a calling card. What Jesus does to serve God speaks for him. It means that Jesus' entire life is dedicated to serving the Supreme Being.
"But you do not believe because you are not my sheep."
This statement seems obvious, but it provides a point of clarity. The "believe" that Jesus is referring to here is the belief that "The miracles I do in my Father's Name speak for me." In other words, Jesus is not requesting his followers to blindly accept Jesus as their savior and thus be saved, as most of today's professional ecclesiastical priests, ministers, reverends, popes, bishops and cardinals preach. Jesus is clearly saying that his followers understand Jesus' relationship with God. This confirms another statement made by Jesus:
“Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will come to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles? Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!” (Matt. 7:21-23)Here again, the important message Jesus is teaching is not that he is himself the savior, but that he is serving God and wanting us to serve God ("he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven"). When someone does someone else's will, this is called service. When the service is done out of love (rather than fear or as a business arrangement - to get something in return) it is called loving service.
What is becoming saved according to Jesus?
Jesus is clearly indicating that becoming saved is not simply "accepting Jesus as my savior." Being saved (entering "the kingdom of heaven") is accomplished by serving the Supreme Being with love and devotion.
Next, Jesus indicates that following him is very practical: "My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me." Here the word "hear" comes from the Greek word ἀκούω (akouo), which means to 'hear,' or better, from the lexicon, 'to understand, perceive the sense of what is said.'
The word "voice" is being translated from φωνή (phōnē), which can mean 'voice,' but it also means 'speech' according to the lexicon. These indicate that Jesus' followers hear Jesus' teachings, understand those teachings, and then apply those teachings to their lives. In other words, they follow Jesus' instructions.
This is a practical matter. Being saved is following Jesus' instructions. Simply making a proclamation of being saved is not being saved. Following Jesus' instructions is what provides the means for becoming saved.
This is clearly the meaning of Jesus' statement: "I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish". He is giving eternal life through his teachings. Those who follow his teachings - and come to love and serve God - obtain eternal life. This eternal life is granted within a relationship of loving service to the Supreme Being. This is confirmed by Jesus' next statement:
"My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand."While Jesus admits that his followers gain eternal life by applying Jesus' teachings ("hear my voice"), Jesus is clear that God is actually the Source. The Supreme Being is not only holding Jesus' followers in His hand ("my Father's hand"), but it is the Supreme Being, Jesus' Father, who gives Jesus' followers to Jesus in order to teach and guide them.
Let's consider this carefully. Jesus is clarifying that his miracles were done "in my Father's Name." Then he admits that God gave Jesus his followers, and God is holding Jesus' followers ("sheep") in "His hand."
What is Jesus saying then?
Jesus is clarifying that he is God's servant and representative. All of Jesus' teachings and all of his miracles are coming from the Supreme Being. Jesus is acting on behalf of the Supreme Being. This makes Jesus not the Supreme Being, but God's representative.
This is not some vague mystic hyperbole. It is a practical circumstance. God is the Supreme Being. He controls everything, yet He grants us the freedom to love Him and serve Him - or not. Should we choose to love and serve God, God will guide us to His representative, who will teach us how to redirect our lives towards regaining our loving relationship with the Supreme Being.
In other words, Jesus is enjoying a loving relationship with God. He is serving God, and his activities are being empowered by God, and he is teaching us how we can also come to love and serve God.
So rather than trying to prove to these Jews that Jesus is the "Messiah," Jesus instead defines what a "messiah" really is. Jesus indicates that those who know Jesus and Jesus' relationship with God, will know the answer to the Jews' question. This is because those who really follow Jesus do so because they too want to come to a point of loving and serving God.
Messiah doesn't mean "God became man"
All of this indicates clearly that the "messiah" is not "God became man" or any other speculative definition given by professional preachers from ecclesiastical organized religions. Jesus clarifies here that the "messiah" is someone who represents God and thus has the power to save us by introducing us to God and showing us how to love and serve God.
In the same way, an ambassador will be empowered by their government's ruler to represent them. And we might give an ambassador from another country as much honor and respect as we'd give that country's president or king directly. But we would never confuse the ambassador with the country, president or king. That would offend the country, president or king, wouldn't it?
This also clarifies the meaning of Jesus' statement: "I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish." What is this "eternal life" that Jesus is giving his followers? It is teaching and guiding them towards developing their own loving relationship with God. By developing our own loving relationship with God we obtain "eternal life" because loving and serving the Supreme Being out of love completes us.
God created each of us to exchange a loving relationship with Him. This is our purpose for existence. But in order to have true love, there must be freedom. We can choose to love God or not. For those of us who have chosen not to love God, we live in ignorance, away from God within these temporary physical bodies.
"Eternal life" comes with our decision to return to our loving relationship with our Best Friend and real Soul Mate, the Supreme Being. This is why Jesus' most important instruction to his followers was:
“ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment.” (Matt. 22:37-38)
*Here is the translation of Jesus' statement according to the Gospels of Jesus:
“I already told you but you don’t believe me. The things I do in my LORD’s Name bear witness about me. But as I said to you, you don’t trust me because you are not my sheep. My sheep hear my voice and I know them and they follow me. And I give them eternal life, so they will never perish, and no one shall remove them from my protection. My LORD who brought them to me is greater than all, and no one can remove them from the LORD’s protection.” (John 10:25-29)