April 16, 2016
4th Sunday of Easter - C
They Follow Me
The background of this passage lends significant insights to its understanding. Jesus speaks these words while he is in the Temple area during the celebration of the feast of Dedication.
This feast celebrates the rededication of the Temple in 164 BC, after the victories of the Jewish revolution led by Judas Maccabeus against gentile forces who had desecrated the Temple (1 Maccabees, Chapter 4). 
Prior to the Maccabean revolution, the Jews lost their nation because some of their leaders had abandoned God's ways and followed the gentile rulers.
Many Jews who were faithful to God were killed by gentile forces.
This background can help Jesus' listeners then and us today appreciate Jesus' words, “My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish.”
 Francis J. Moloney, SDB., The Gospel of John, Sacra Pagina Series. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1988; p. 313.