16 I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. 17 For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again. I have received this command from my Father.”
In this passage, Jesus speaks to the inclusiveness of the fold of God. Jesus’ imperative is not just to bring those that seem most like the listeners in that particular place in time, but others who might be less than welcome. The sacrificial love of Christ that impels Him to invite all to His fold is the same love that impelled him to death on a cross for his flock. He uses His power to welcome all and make a way for them.
- Has there been a time when you didn’t feel welcome at church?
- What practices in your life help to cultivate the welcoming of the unexpected sheep in your flock?
- Is there something you can do to help new people feel welcome in your life and context?
Gracious God, thank you for your wide arms that make room for those who may be outside our own arms of acceptance. Help us to look to you and your sacrificial love in spite of your power and reflect that same love for those in our lives who need to belong. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
19 Again the Jews were divided because of these words. 20 Many of them were saying, “He has a demon and is out of his mind. Why listen to him?” 21 Others were saying, “These are not the words of one who has a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?”
It is interesting to see what words of Jesus the Jews focused on. They understood that by Jesus talking so intimately about the Father, there was an other-worldly connection to God that he claimed to have. Those who didn’t want to believe claimed he came from the opposite end of the spectrum of power, but the challenge was the miraculous work of restoration he was displaying, work that would never be done by the prince of destruction.
- Where do you get stuck on the words of Jesus in this passage?
- Where have you seen Jesus work in an unexpected way or context?
- Where do you see Jesus inviting you to see his scope of work expand and to participate in what he is doing?
Gracious God, you are constantly at work through your Spirit and through your people filled with the Spirit. Help us to listen for your loving voice in our lives to guide not just into what we do but who we are in the midst of what we are doing. May our actions reflect your heart of love and desire for the restoration of all. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
22 At that time the Festival of the Dedication took place in Jerusalem. It was winter, 23 and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the portico of Solomon. 24 So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.” 25 Jesus answered, “I have told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name testify to me, 26 but you do not believe because you do not belong to my sheep.
As a Jew, Jesus followed the customs and traditional celebrations of the Jewish community. In this context of deep religious and cultural heritage, Jews surrounded him, demanding to know if he was the Messiah. What he said is a reminder to us as well – we come with a posture of belief before we know and belonging over knowledge nurtures our belief as we experience life with others in the presence of Christ.
- When have you experienced a posture of belief before something became clear and you were able to know?
- What demands are you making of Jesus right now that might need to be transformed into acts of trust?
- How does your community encourage you in your faith?
Gracious God, thank you for your goodness to us, and for inviting us to a life of faith each day. Help us to see what you are doing through the lenses of our faith, trusting that you are good and trustworthy, and then to be in community with others where we can belong and make space for others to belong. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
"27 My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 What my Father has given me is greater than all else, and no one can snatch it out of the Father’s hand. 30 The Father and I are one.”
I love the back and forth of Jesus’ words about his followers – what he does for them and their response. As followers of Christ, we are known and protected by God. We are in the hands of God as the Father and Son together lead us to life.
- What do you hear Jesus saying to you?
- What does following Jesus look like for you today?
- How does it feel to be protected in the hands of God?
Gracious God, thank you for the invitation to encounter you, to hear your voice, and be led by you. Thank you that you lead us into the abundance of eternal life today, as we participate in what you are doing in the world. Show us how we can live into the promise of protection and guidance as we follow you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Psalm 23 -
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters;
3 He restores my soul. He leads me in right paths for his name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me;
your rod and your staff—they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord my whole life long.
This psalm is familiar to many of us and often a source of comfort during difficult times. After meditating on Jesus as our Good Shepherd and our invitation to listen, recognize and follow his voice, this psalm is a great way to end the week, with the shepherd David reminding us of the promise of refreshment, nourishment, rest, protection, and guidance offered to us.
- What promise do you need to carry with you today? Why?
- Who in your life needs encouragement during this time, and how can you reach out to them today?
- Is there a word or phrase that has stayed with you from John 10 or Psalm 23? What is God inviting you to in that word or phrase?
Gracious God – thank you so much for your loving and protective presence in all circumstances. We admit our need for you as we leave and return from the fold. We lean into your promises and in our sense of security ask for eyes to see others and the creativity to reach to those around us in love, filling their lives with hope. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.