Jesus said: “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. 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…
…The Jews who heard these words were again divided. Many of them said, “He is raving mad. Why listen to him?” (John 10)
In Israel, asking questions
BEST STORY EVER: The Gospel-writer John is my hands-down favorite of the Jesus-Story tellers. He always seems to tap into deeper layers of the narrative. I seldom read from John’s account without imagining how I would have responded, or thought, or blogged about my encounters with Jesus.
John’s entire Gospel is a “must read” (and I recommend – once in a while – tackling it in one sitting); but Chapter Ten especially intrigues me. Jesus describes himself as The Gate. He talks about life, “real and eternal,” “more and better life than (we) ever dreamed of.” He affirms his identity as “The Son of God,” And he does another exceptional job of ticking off the authorities.
Jesus goes on to talk about “Sheep that are not of this sheep pen,” and about his long-term vision for “one flock and one shepherd.” Is he talking about Jews and Gentiles? Is he looking ahead to today’s Methodists, Baptists, Presbyterians, Catholics et al? Do his words apply to Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus and more…?
And exactly when do these sheep that are “not of this sheep pen” all “listen to (his) voice,” and begin to be “one flock” with “one shepherd?” What’s that going to look like? At what point will Jesus “bring them also”? Does it have to be now? Must it be here on earth, during this lifetime?
“There is more than enough room in my Father’s home,” Jesus said in John 14:2. “If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?”
Anyway, this kind of talk was way too much for the religious leaders of Christ’s day, and they responded with, “He is raving mad. Why listen to him?“
Or, as The Message vividly paraphrases the text, “He’s crazy, a maniac—out of his head completely. Why bother listening to him?”
BLAME JESUS! This is the Jesus who gets inside my head and my heart and stirs things up so deliciously. And I find myself challenged – by Jesus – with questions that are significantly more difficult than those posed by regular people.
In fact, pretty-much every time I’m accused of questionable theology, crimes against right doctrine, not being a “Bible-believing Christian,” “Coming across like a conservative,” or “Getting a little liberal there, aren’t you Derek?” those times are always because of scripture; and it’s because of writers like John; and – most of all – it’s because of the thoughts and ideas JESUS challenges me with!
If you want to blame anyone for my struggles around the margins of orthodoxy, then blame JESUS; he’s the one who makes me wonder out loud the most often.
Your fellow traveller, and always a “Pilgrim in Progress” – DEREK