Read – John 10:11-21
Most listening to Him that day did not understand the full implications of what it meant for Jesus to lay down His life as the Good Shepherd, and if we are not careful we will miss it too.
Jesus is the Good Shepherd. A comparison is made between the Good Shepherd and the hired hand. The Good Shepherd will lay down His life for His sheep, but the hired hand thinks only of himself and not the security of the sheep.
Sheep are defenseless. When a predator comes they will begin to run and scatter leaving the young and weak to be picked off one by one. The sheep need a shepherd who will defend them even at the risk of their own lives. We have such a Good Shepherd in Jesus who stands between us and death; He laid down His life so we might live.
Jesus goes on to say that no one takes His life. Our advisory the devil, who is described as a “roaring lion seeking someone to devour” (1 Pt. 5:8), will not overpower the Good Shepherd. Instead in laying down His life Jesus also has power “to take it up again” (Jn. 10:18). What looks like Jesus’ ultimate defeat is actually a strategic move to triumph over the devil’s schemes against us.
As we read Jesus’ words here, it is easy for us to focus on our Good Shepherd’s willingness to lay down His life on our behalf. This gives us reason to rejoice for we have nothing to fear. If our LORD overcame death then no matter how the enemy may come against us we too will live with Christ.
But let’s not miss the one thing impacting us as believers today. Most listening to Him that day did not understand the full implications of what it meant for Jesus to lay down His life as the Good Shepherd, and if we are not careful we will miss it too. Jesus said, “And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.” (Jn. 10:16).
I find it interesting that among the Jews listening to Jesus that day John points out that they were divided (see vv. 19-21). Some rejected Jesus and what He said believing Him to be demon possessed and out of His mind. But others reasoned a demon could not open the eyes of a blind man, so perhaps there was something to what Jesus said. Will we take the time to ponder His word and allow the Holy Spirit to teach us all that His words mean for us?
As believers today most of us are beneficiaries of the work of the Good Shepherd for we who were once outsiders have now been included. The Gentiles or non-Jews are the sheep not of this fold who would hear Jesus voice (i.e. His Words) and would be brought into His flock. In this way, “there will be one flock, one shepherd.” The Jews believed their Messiah would rescue their people, but Jesus made it clear that He did not lay down His life for only the Jews, but for everyone who would believe in Him that they might all be united as one in Him.
When we look at our communities do we see the “one flock” Jesus spoke of, or is His church like the Jews that day – divided by His words? Even within the local church we attend is there unity and peace among members or is there discord? If we are truly members of His flock, and if we hear His voice then can we hear our Good Shepherd calling us back to unity together as one flock?
In this season of dedication let us dedicate ourselves to unity within the body of Christ. Rather than sowing seeds of conflict and dissension through gossip and bitter words against one another; let’s learn the language of love. Let’s strive to follow Paul’s instruction to the church at Ephesus, “eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.“ (Eph. 4:3-6).
LORD Jesus, forgive us for being slow to hear Your Voice; forgive us for our petty disagreements and being quick to divide Your flock. Empower us by Your Holy Spirit to work together for unity.