Today I was honored to help host a luncheon with my friend, Pastor Tim Steffon at his church, Martha Bowman. The purpose was to call awareness and action to human sex trafficking in our area. It's a heartbreaking cause, that I'm proud to champion. As I was preparing to share my thoughts with you on John 10, I couldn't help but be thankful for the freedom that we have in Jesus Christ. It's in him that we live, move and have our being. There's no grater feeling than liberty! As we pray during this time of consecration, let's pray for those who are bound and don't want to be. Also, let's pray for those who are free but still act as if they're bound and for those who are bound and don't want to be free.
Here are my scholarly stances on John chapter 10...
Let me start by saying that this passage is widely known, particularly because of verse 10. It contains two of the most confusing and misinterpreted passages in scripture (verses 16 and 34). For clarity, let me theologically clear up these verses for you.
-verse 16 "I have other sheep, too, that are not in this sheepfold. I must bring them also. They will listen to my voice, and there will be one flock with one shepherd." Jesus makes an incredibly interesting interjection, by vaguely pointing out that there are several flocks but only one shepherd. Jesus' intent of that interjection will never be fully understood because there's no other mention of it in scripture to probe. However, the spirit of his statement admonishes us to understand that no one group has a monopoly on God. Furthermore, it's not up to us to decide who's heaven bound and who isn't. There are folks who are desperately in search of God and are genuinely attempting to serve him. I would be lying if I told you that I thought that the God of mercy would disregard their efforts, because they weren't United Methodist like us. God be praised, that he isn't rigid and dismissive like we are!
-verse 34 Jesus replied, “It is written in your own Scriptures that God said to certain leaders of the people, ‘I say, you are gods!’ There's been religious sects that have formed because of this verse, which Jesus is quoting from Psalm 82:6. Unfortunately they formed ignorantly far from the truth. The proper interpretation doe's not imply that humans are God, rather, we're God like. In that we've been adopted by God and have become his children. Children should have characteristics of their parents, that causes others to see the evidence in them of you who their parents are. I don't think that you could mistake the fact that Antonie II is my son. He has so many features of mine that it's undeniable that he's my son. Thank God that we have the right to be called the children of God and that we are joint heirs with Jesus Christ!
The voice of God is valuable! So, stop trying to tune him out! And stop ignoring him! Hearing God is a blessed gift and a pleasure. The value in his voice is multifaceted, in that we find: the truth (verses 1 and 7), direction (verse 4), salvation and freedom (verse 9) and safety (verse 10). Your mother's voice is wise, your fathers voice is safe, your grandparents voice is comforting, your friends voice is fun and your boo-thang's voice is romantic but only God's voice has the ability to awaken all of those feelings in you at once! That's so valuable that it's priceless!
Jesus, with assertiveness, declares that he's not just a shepherd but he's the good shepherd. I want you to be encouraged by knowing, that you're following a good shepherd; he knows what he's doing! Sometimes it seems like your world is crumbling and that your back is against the wall. And you may get angry at God because you were following his lead, and seemingly his voice led you to a place that's low, lonely and full of lack. But don't give up on God, he's setting you up for a major display of deliverance, like only he can orchestrate!
If you were wondering about the security of your soul, by being a follower of Jesus' voice, pay attention to verses 25-30. I don't worry about loosing my salvation, because I'm not holding on to Jesus but he's holding on to me! My salvation is secure because my God is strong! Hallelujah!!!
The last thing that I'll say about this chapter (amid an amalgam of thoughts on my heart) is that the folks Jesus was talking to, had the audacity to attempt to stone Jesus for saying that he was God. However, he got away because it wasn't his time to die. Here's a good place to shout, the ignorance of others can't kill you! Jesus had already told them in verses 17 and 18, that no one can kill him but when it was time to for him to die that he would, and that when he died that he wouldn't stay dead. Aren't you glad, if you ain't then you 'oughtta be glad (that's not good grammar but it's great gospel) that because we're God like, that just like him we can declare to who tried to kill us and to what tried to hold us down "O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ." 1 Corinthians 15:55-57