Tuesday 01 August 2017

Bible Book:

“The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.” (v. 3)

John 10:1-10 Tuesday 1 August 2017

Psalm: Psalm 46


On a quick reading it may appear that theological reflectionusing the motif of the shepherd and sheep in John's Gospel becomesstretched a little too far, especially here. Just who is Jesussupposed to be in relation to the sheep: the shepherd, the gate,the gatekeeper? Yet it is best to resist assigning Jesus to one ofthe roles too quickly. The pastoral images, both over-familiar andculturally distant, warrant time and attention. It is in thecomplexity, overlap and interplay of images that the writerexplores a central theme of the Gospel: the relationship betweenJesus and those under his care.

Jesus, here, seems to be all three: the shepherd, the gate andthe gatekeeper. He is the one who approaches the sheep directly andin the proper manner (unlike a thief or a bandit). He is thelegitimate shepherd and the sheep belong to him. He is also thegate, the one who defines what a proper approach is and the meansby which the sheep leave their pen and discover all they need tolive. He is the way to their salvation. Jesus is also thegatekeeper, the one who makes it possible, the one who opens thegate and leads them to abundant life. He is the one who bringstheir salvation. Although Jesus does not directly claim the titlefor himself, he speaks of his person and mission in ways that takeup and extend common understandings of the Messiah. He is both theMessiah and the one who establishes the criteria for who theMessiah is and what the Messiah does.

However, that is not all: his people recognise him as such. Hecalls the sheep by name and they recognise his voice. At a deeplevel revelation occurs as those who follow Jesus know who he isand respond when he calls them by name. They know his voice and areprepared to follow where he leads. This idea of almost instinctiverecognition flows through the Gospel. Even when Jesus' followersare confused, lost or floundering, they still have the ability torecognise Jesus when he calls them even if they do not always havethe capacity to respond.

To Ponder

  • What has helped you to recognise God's call and presence inyour life?
  • What does this passage tell you about Jesus that helps us yourecognise his presence with his people today?
  • When surrounded by multiple voices and different perspectives,what helps you to discern the 'voice' of God day by day? 
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