As you remember, Jesus has been talking about Him being a good shepherd. He speaks of His flock, which does not include the Gentiles. They are a part of the “other” sheep. Before Jesus leaves to go to the temple, there is a division concerning what He has just done and taught. Some once again claim He has a devil while others speak up and say, “Can a devil open the eyes of the blind?” (v. 21)
The time is winter, and it is during the Feast of Dedication. Jesus walks in the temple in Solomon’s porch. When the Jews see Jesus coming, they gather around Him. They ask Jesus to tell them the truth. Is He the promised Messiah? Jesus responds by saying He did tell them, but they did not receive His words. He speaks the truth, which comes from the Father. These words witness of Him. They do not receive Jesus’ words. They are not His sheep. Jesus spoke plainly, and they did not receive His words.
At this point Jesus is approaching the end of His ministry. He has been in Galilee and Judea for an approximate period of nearly three years. He has been teaching publicly for that time. He did not say explicitly that He was the Messiah. The people were looking for a political messiah and not a spiritual messiah. This fact was dealt with earlier. If He had conformed to this statement, He would have given false hope. He had been open to other claims such as a right to have a person’s loyalties. He was able to satisfy all legitimate wants and needs. He healed the sick, and He has given sight to the blind. He has done many things in the course of three years. These works were a fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies concerning the Messiah. If they had known these prophecies, these verses would serve to answer their questions about whether He was the promised Messiah or not. If they followed Jesus and heard His teachings, they would not have been in the dark. They claimed that Jesus has not taught them plainly.
The words of Jesus spoke plainly to the question they asked. Take, for instance, the nobleman whose son was healed from his sickness. He took Jesus at His word. John 4:50. Notice what Peter said. “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” John 6:68. These had believed based on the words alone. Yet, there were also Jesus’ many works that substantiated them.
John’s Gospel calls the works “signs.” This is seen in John 5. A sign is a symbol. It points to something signified. The miracles are signs in that they point to the unusual ability or character of the one performing them. The signs point to Jesus. There are seven “signs” in this gospel. The last one is found in the next chapter.