Audio version at: https://youtu.be/e6Xwub8D7rI
Prepare to listen. Still your heart and mind with this prayer from Psalm 19: Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.
Prayerfully Read John 10:1-6
‘Very truly, I tell you, anyone who does not enter the sheepfold by the gate but climbs in by another way is a thief and a bandit. 2The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. 3The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4When he has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. 5They will not follow a stranger, but they will run from him because they do not know the voice of strangers.’ 6Jesus used this figure of speech with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.
“They did not understand what he was saying to them.” I, for one, can’t blame them. Jesus abruptly launched into this “figure of speech” after his run-in with the Pharisees who’d excommunicated the man born blind. John makes no attempt to connect the two accounts. However, it’s probable that Jesus, in figurative form, was addressing those Pharisees. They’d have recognized the prophet Ezekiel (ch 34) who chastised Israel’s kings and priests for being bad shepherds. Did they suspect that Jesus was accusing them?
Jesus didn’t dwell on the false rulers, neither did he rebuke them. Instead, he gave the sheep help to know the true, the Good Shepherd. We live in a culture of many claimants to the role of shepherd, and many are false. It’s easy to be fooled by their glossy programs, extravagant promises, catchy familiar messages. Jesus gave three tests to help us discern rightly. First, unlike the thief, the good shepherd enters, through the gate, opened for him by the gatekeeper. He has no need to sneak in because he has no ulterior motives, no desire to scam the sheep and take their money. Second, the sheep know his voice; they’ve heard it often. Third, he knows and calls them by their name.
To avoid being taken in by the thief or bandit, we must spend time with good and true shepherd so that we see him entering unhindered and recognize his voice when he calls us by name.
If Jesus called you today, how would you know his voice from the many competing voices?
Respond to Jesus
Your sheep follow you, Jesus because they hear and know your voice. Keep training me to instantly recognize your voice among the many false shepherds who speak up today in false guises. Amen.
Go live obediently in the world, following the True Shepherd because you know his voice
Reflection on Scripture has been a constant in my life ever since I can remember. Reflecting on Jesus in the Gospels has become a necessity to get Jesus right. Join me in reading John to see Jesus more clearly this Lent.