In this section Jesus is describing people as sheep, a familiar metaphor to a Jewish audience.
Among the threats to the safety of sheep were thieves who destroyed the flock and hired workers who ran away when either thief or wild animal forcibly attempted to take the sheep (this is the idea behind the word ‘snatch’). Jesus’ hearers had suffered from both forms of attack on their spiritual wellbeing, as many of their religious leaders had no concern for those under their care and were simply ‘doing a job’.
In stark contrast with both, Jesus stands as the ‘Good Shepherd’ of all who acknowledge His sacrificial death (John 10:11) and receive Him as Saviour and Lord. He insists that His sheep will never suffer destruction, nor can anyone snatch them from Him. This leads to the conclusion that a true believer in Christ is absolutely secure forever.
Let’s unpack our verse to see four reasons why. Firstly, the life that Christ gives to His sheep is described as eternal which, at its most basic, means it remains forever and therefore cannot be taken away. Secondly, He promises that His sheep cannot perish; the word construction here is very powerful and could read like this: ‘they shall never by any means perish’. Thirdly, Jesus provides the assurance that, figuratively speaking, He personally holds each of His sheep in His hand, from which they cannot be snatched. Finally, since the whole statement is made by the Son of God it is underwritten by the God Who cannot lie (Titus 1:2).
As if that was not enough, Jesus goes on to explain (verse 29) that His sheep have been given to Him by God the Father, Who is greater than all. As well as being in Jesus’ hand, they are therefore also in the Father’s hand, and no one has the power to remove them.
This is security like no other.