Let’s see, Jesus was still talking to the blind Pharisees and anyone else who was listening in.
When I don’t get a concept I often ask “What does that look like?” This is exactly what Jesus does – He gives a word picture that would be familiar to them…living with sheep.
“Truly, truly” I’m told means “really, really, I’m not kidding so listen up.” When you come to town with your sheep you put them in the common holding pen with everyone else’s visiting sheep. If you want to get your sheep you just go in through the front and the gatekeeper opens the door for you. When you are inside your sheep follow you because they know your voice. The other sheep don’t bother. But, if someone climbs over the fence, that guy is trying to steal the sheep and the sheep will run from him.”
I guess Jesus sees the glazed over look in their eyes and can tell they do not get this….at….all.
So He tries a different picture and starts out again with the “Really, really…listen up guys”. Apparently the goal is to get them to connect with what they already know about who has the sheep’s best interest in mind. I’ve read some about the sheep/shepherd relationship. Sheep need a lot of protection and attention to thrive. You’ve got to really love the sheep in order to take care of them. If you’re not willing to do that…well the sheep suffer and die.
He may have had their attention for a while but the water was getting a bit deep for this crowd and by the time He started talking about how shepherding was a family business that involved “his father” – I can hear them murmuring…there he goes again with the father thing and then the authority thing. And the dying and not really being dead – what’s with that?
“There was again a division among the Jews.” He was making sense to some and to some he was insane. Like McDowell’s book, “Lord, Lunatic or Liar” – the choice laid out is in the extreme – in or out – black or white –Lord or Lunatic.
My favorite part of this passage is when Jesus says, “no one takes it (my life) from me, but I lay it down of my own accord.” I have often pondered this when I feel like I’ve been robbed of something – and I’ve come to learn “Nothing can be stolen from you if you give it away freely.” My motivation is to avoid bitterness and hurt by releasing my grasp and giving with the same generosity from which I have received. Jesus gave to please His Father and to gain His sheep.
God loves His sheep and will do whatever it takes to care for them.
“Freely, freely, you have received. Freely, freely give.” That’s the way to live.
About the World?
The choice for Jesus might seem extreme but so is the reward.