Monday, 17 September 2012

John 10: Good Shepherd

In the Book of John, we learn lots of different ways in which we can describe Jesus. Jesus also has different ways of referring to himself, and these are known as the I am sayings,. So far we've had Jesus saying he is the Bread of Life and the Light of the World. In chapter 10 Jesus gives us another two ways.
  • In what different ways do you introduce yourself? (e.g. "Hi, I'm Sam, Gloria's husband" or, "hello class, I am your teacher for this morning.")
  • What or who makes you feel safe?
Jesus tells the Pharisees that he is a gate. This seems like a really weird thing to say. It makes me think of when my grandmother used to say, "you'd make a better door than a window" whenever I sat in front of the television blocking her view. Jesus, in this instance was, was describing what a shepherd used to do to protect his flock at night. The sheep would often be kept in a walled enclosure with a gap that served as an entrance or exit. The shepherd would lie in that gap at night, protecting his flock.

So, already we're being shown how Jesus protects us. He goes on to say that he is a shepherd that lays his life down for his sheep. This protection and safety is sacrificial: it cost him his life. But there's also freedom in this safety. We can come in, go out and find pasture. We're not confined or penned in.

This most interesting verse of this chapter, however, is verse 16:
I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.
Jesus, here, is acknowledging the universal nature of his gospel and salvation. It is for all, not just those of a single ethnic heritage. Anyone can belong to Jesus' flock if they make the decision to enter the fold through him.

The shepherd would have been a very familiar metaphor to the Jews. It crops up again and again in scripture. Perhaps the most famous today is Psalm 23. Take a moment to read it and think about how this Psalm is fulfilled through Jesus.

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