Jesus says, “The works . . . testify to me.” Spiritual leaders, politicos, government authorities, and corporate moguls know how to spin a good cover story, but can we trust their words? We all know better, but the temptation is great. It takes effort to find out what certain people or governments or companies actually do, so we let it slide. Jesus emphasizes works not because they are miraculous and testify to his messiahship, but these are the works of the Father. Jesus’ works testify to the fact that “the Father is in me and I am in the Father” (John 10:38).
Those who state the request “If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly” must have felt puzzled by Jesus’ response: “You do not believe, because you do not belong to my sheep.” What? Ask for a straightforward answer, and you get sheep. Jesus says that a rather important dimension of spiritual life encompasses paying attention to what is happening around us.
I take comfort when a leader says words that I like to hear. In this specific instance the Jews are hoping to hear certain words, but it doesn’t really matter what is said. They don’t want to “hear” what the actions say either because that requires change on their part. When I pay attention to what Jesus is saying in this passage, I get uncomfortable because I resist change, as we all do. Perhaps we will hear Jesus’ words and follow. Listen to his words closely: “You do not believe, because you do not belong to my sheep. My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me.” I wonder, Do my works testify that I have changed—that I belong in Jesus’ flock?

Jesus, help me to listen and watch, to hear with more than my ears and to be willing to change. Amen.

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