Our scripture this week is John 10:1-10.
“Very truly I tell you Pharisees, anyone who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.” John 10:1-3
Jesus was often in debate with the religious leaders of that day, attempting to teach them how their “system” was not according to God’s plan but had become merely a means for retaining power in the community. Naturally this challenge to their authority was not well received and they tried any means they could to catch Jesus in violations of their petty and intricate interpretation of the Law. Jesus taught in a completely different way, using common situations and people to show God’s love for us.
In this lesson, He frames His coming as that of a shepherd, one charged with guiding and protecting the flock. He tells them of the importance of the relationship between the shepherd and the sheep and that the sheep listen not out of fear of punishment but out of their trust in the shepherd. This was the basis of His ministry to all of us.
God wants to be connected to each of us personally. He wants us to feel the joy of His love, and while we have responsibilities, God wants us to obey because it is right to do so, not because we are afraid. We have been forgiven so that we might lose our fear and enter God’s kingdom to enjoy the grace planned for us from the beginning.
Gracious God, our hearts, minds and lives are Yours. Help us to follow the path You intend, led by Your love to the joy of eternity with You. Amen.