I AM the gate for the sheep...I AM the good shepherd
We’re continuing to look at what Jesus says about himself in the “I AM” statements in John’s Gospel. The image I chose for this post is an icon that comes from around the third century. The early Christians, when depicting Jesus, pictured him as the "Good Shepherd" first and foremost. What image do you picture when you think of Jesus? Most Christians probably picture the cross because of what Jesus does for us in our sins. How would picturing Jesus first as the Good Shepherd change how you think about Jesus and your relationship with him? Take a moment to read John 10.
The first paragraph of this chapter is a parable (10:1-5). Not surprisingly, Jesus’ hearers did not understand what he tells them. Jesus then adds three layers of explanation: the first is found in 7-10, another in 11-18, and the final explanation is then in 25-30. Ultimately, it is important for all three sections to be read to bring the whole parable together and what Jesus is saying about himself. But, it is also important to read each section as they come.
In chapter 9, remembering that there were no chapter breaks in the original text, the major question that dominated the narrative was whether or not Jesus was the messiah or not. Was he the “son of man” whom God will set as judge over the world? As we transition into ch. 10, Jesus is now talking about sheep and shepherds. What’s the connection?
What kind of imagery would you use for a king of a nation? How would you illustrate a CEO of a company? When we think about rulers, we picture people of power imposing their rule on their subjects. When God talks about himself as the King over his people and when the prophets point to the coming Messiah, who will take his position as King over Israel, they point to the image of the shepherd taking care of sheep. Ezekiel 34:1-16 brings what Jesus is claiming about himself into clearer focus.
The ruler that we have, the King that we bow to, does not look on us as subjects to be manipulated to meet an end goal or increase profits. Our King is one who knows us each by name. He protects to the uttermost. He lays down his life so that we might live. Our King wants to spend time with us so that we might know his voice. What does it mean to you that Jesus wants to know you that well? What does it mean for you that God in the flesh not only allows you to come that close to him but also desires that level of intimacy? What responsibility do you have as sheep in this kind of relationship?