Today's Reading - John 9-10
“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.”
Today’s passage begins with the bizarre account of Jesus healing the blind man on the Sabbath, and continues with the Pharisee’s struggle to understand Jesus as God. But I want to focus on the imagery that Jesus uses of himself and his followers: a Shepherd to his flock. Now, I’m not going to pretend to be any kind of sheep expert. Nonetheless, here we go.
Through this image we see the good Shepherd’s love and tender care for his flock.
Jesus says, “My sheep listen to my voice, I know them, and they follow me.” He speaks of being the gate that opens, allowing the sheep to move pastures and guides the sheep. He warns of thieves and deceivers that steal into the pasture over the fence. But he calls himself the good shepherd who cares for the flock that His father has entrusted Him with. The flock that will never perish nor that anyone can steal from His hand. Once we believe and realize that we are a part of Jesus’ flock, this passage challenges us to think of the nature of the way in which a flock interacts with not only the Shepherd, but with each other.
I considered while reading this passage the nature of a flock being tended by and following a Shepard or even being corralled by a sheep dog. The sheep have no idea where they are going, they are followers. And I can imagine that most of the sheep begin to move because one next to them does, a sort of chain reaction from the first sheep that responds to the Shepherd. They push and bump into each other. If one reacts to the Shepherd, the dog, the gate being opened and moves, the others around it react to him and move. They respond to each other, moving collectively, hence the term flock.
And as we know, the issue comes in when there is a stray sheep, who, by choice or confusion, sets off from the flock. And just as the sheep respond to the moments of the sheep following the Shepherd, others will respond to the stray sheep and follow him. The fate of the stray sheep? The Shepard tries to guide him back, but there are threats being separated and not under the protection of your flock - think big hungry wolves.
And now I want you to consider this metaphor for our lives. Are there Christian brothers and sisters moving around you in response to God’s shepherding? Are you close enough, mixed in enough in the family of God that another’s movement into the Father’s will bump and nudge you towards it? Or are you far enough out of the flock that you don’t feel the moving life of the family of Christ? We believe and hear our sweet good Shepherd’s voice, but we also jump into the thriving, pulsing, moving flock of sisters and brothers who spur us towards the Father.
Questions for today:
Do you hear His voice to prompt you to move first?
Do you feel the pushes and bumps of the family of God around you responding to the Father?
How can you take steps to grow closer with your Christian family?
Ok, put down the Bible and go do it!
by Ashley King