The gospels have given us us rich images of God at work in the person of Jesus Christ. In John's gospel Jesus' own "I am" statements helps us see who him
- I am the Messiah John 4:26
- I am the bread of life John 6:48
- I am the light of the world John 8:12
- I am the door for the sheep John 10:7
- I am the good shepherd John 10:11
- I am the Son of God John 10:36
- I am the resurrection and the life John 11:25
- I am the way, the truth, and the life John 14:6
- I am in the father and the Father is in me John 14:10
- I am the true vine John 15:1
- I am not of the world John 17:14
Jesus' simple sentences give us glimpses of God at work in his person. This weeks reading in John 10:11-18 invites us to explore Jesus work as shepherd and to explore what great lengths he's willing to go to in our defense.
In my first couple years as a pastor I remember preaching about this text. I asked out loud why sheep have reputation for being so dumb. One man in the congregation spoke up, "They can't be that dumb: they can always find their way out of a fense if there's a whole or on top of hay stack or building if they have half a chance to get there." Cordette was absolutely right. Jesus wasn't comparing us to dumb animals by calling us sheep. He was revealing both God's view of our nature and the distance that he would go to save us.
Jesus' mission, to be shepherd of our lives, runs head long into our rugged independence and our willful, and sinful, resistance to God. Sheep aren't that dumb. We humans have been given so much by God. We were made to please God. Yet we can choose to use all our gifts destructively. The shepherd who knows his sheep knows our abilities and our temptations
Jesus loves us enough to runs headlong into the worst that humans can do to other humans. Jesus has pledged to be our shepherd. He is the one with the rod and staff of the 23rd psalm. He's the one and He knows very well that he came to save a people who believe they don't need saving. Jesus knows very well that their are theaves and wolves ready to reach in and do us harm.
Jesus promised to the shepherd and he kept that promise on the cross and he will keep that promise unto the fullness of time.