REFLECTION AND MEDITATION ON JOHN 10:1-18 - JONATHAN WALLINGFORD, SAINT AUGUSTINE OF CANTERBURY EPISCOPAL CHURCH, OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLAHOMA
“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. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.” Jesus used this figure of speech, but the Pharisees did not understand what he was telling them.
Therefore Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.
“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”
People follow Jesus because he is all about Love. The flock follows him because his voice is one of compassion and truth. Those who are full of lies and negativity aren’t fit to lead and should not be followed. You can be sure they will not lay down their life for yours. Love and compassion always bring about a better outcome than the alternatives. There are times in life I respond poorly to situations. May be out of hate, ignorance or frustration. The fact that Jesus suffered crucifixion willingly for the wellbeing of his flock, while not lashing out in anger, is the pinnacle of leading by example. We follow his voice because deep down we know it is the right thing to do. I can’t count how many times I followed my own voice and things went all wrong.
Lord help us to see things in life that we are spiritually blind. Let us shift our focus off of what we as mortals see. Help us to remember only the one true shepherd will not lead us astray, Amen.
Submitted by Jonathan Lynn Wallingford, Saint Augustine of Canterbury Episcopal Church, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Various Clergy and members of St. Augustine contribute to authoring the blog on a variety of topics.