A warning to strangers
“I am the good shepherd…”
How many times have I read this passage? It is beautiful, for sure. You can read it all here if you like. It’s only 21 verses; it won’t take you long.
I love the pictures this passage creates.
He is the good shepherd…
His sheep know His voice and run from a stranger’s voice…
A hired hand will run away when the flock is in danger, but the shepherd lays down his very life for the sheep…
He knows His sheep…and His sheep know Him.
The thief comes to kill, steal, and destroy, but He comes to give us life in fullness…
For so many years I read this passage through a lens of condemnation. What I read was that Jesus is really good, but if I don’t hear His voice clearly then maybe I’m not really one of His sheep. And if I am not experiencing abundant life, then maybe I’m not really one of His sheep.
Over and over it came back to the same basic concept: Jesus is wonderful, but maybe I’m not really one of His sheep.
It’s important to note that if you use a wrong lens, you’ll get a wrong understanding.
When the bible was originally written there were no chapters and verses. The text was broken down later to simplify it for readers. But if you look at the end of chapter 9 something becomes startlingly clear:
Jesus isn’t lecturing bad sheep. He’s taking to task overbearing, self-centered, self-righteous religious leaders who are actually confusing and frightening the sheep.
He is coming to the defense of the sheep.
I’ve heard religious leaders of the current day lament that people are so deluded and given over to their self-centeredness that they can’t begin to discern God’s voice. But I wonder if that’s truly the case, or if people simply don’t hear what religion thinks they should hear.
Maybe we’re making wrong assumptions about what He’s most wanting to talk about in this day and age.
I never wonder if I’m one of His sheep anymore, even on days when I’m having a lousy time hearing His voice or on days when my life is feeling cramped and poured out. I don’t like it, but those days happen sometimes.
It’s good to know He also gives the sheep new lenses so they no longer assume the shepherd is looking for reasons to disown them.
photo courtesy of Unsplash.