Sunday 17 April 2016

Bible Book:

“I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand.” (v. 28)

John 10:22-30 Sunday 17 April 2016

Psalm: Psalm 23


By the time we come to this passage in John's Gospel, readersare already familiar with the image of the shepherd and the sheep.It may be that if we had to pick an animal to describe us, we mightnot choose a sheep, for sheep are not known for the kind ofingenuity or nobility to which we might aspire; and yet thepersisting popularity of the image indicates that there issomething in it that continues to speak to us.Perhaps, when we are feeling vulnerable or lost, orwhen we are struggling with the frailties of human existence andour own limitations, the image of Jesus as our shepherd can behelpful.

Here, the writer of John's Gospel draws on the depiction ofIsrael as God's flock in the Hebrew Scriptures to show that thetrue Israel is to be understood as those who recognise Jesus astheir shepherd, hearing his voice and following him. Whilst verses25-29 continue to be the source of much doctrinal debate about therelationship between the sovereignty of God and human freedom andresponsibility, the main focus of these verses is the idea thatwhat marks out the "sheep", the people of God, is this belief andrecognition of who Jesus is in relation to God.

We already know (John 10:11-18) that the good shepherd, Jesus,cares for his sheep so much that he lays down his life for them,and we now learn something more: it is spelt out for us that thegood shepherd protects his flock from being snatched (verse 29) bywolves or thieves or bandits. Those things that we fear or thosethings that threaten us might have all kinds of power over us, butultimately they are no match for the sure eternal love of Godthrough Jesus. In this, as in all things, Jesus acts with God'sunique authority, and the whole passage leads up to the statement:"The Father and I are one" (v. 30). Those who believe are reassuredthat they cannot be snatched, or taken away, from God. Although wemay falter and wander and feel vulnerable at times in ourrelationship with God, the powerful God does not desert or neglectus.

To Ponder

  • The passage draws on the images of thieves, bandits and wolvesto represent threat. What things make you feel threatened atpresent?
  • What helps you to remember that the powerful God does notdesert or neglect you, especially when you feel lost or vulnerableor frightened?
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