Ep.098: Shepherd me, Lord.

Hello, I’m Daniel Westfall on the channel “Pray With Me”. 

John chapter 9 ended with the Pharisees hurling insults at the man born blind and driving him away. But Jesus received him and invited him into faith. 

In John chapter 10, Jesus interpreted this experience. He said to the Pharisees, “All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate for the sheep. Whoever enters through me will be saved” (John 10:8).

Clearly, Jesus identified the Pharisees as thieves and robbers, the type who would evict a blind man instead of welcoming him into the fold. Then Jesus gave the Pharisees a description of how bad religious leaders interact with people.

He said bad religionists don’t approach the flock through the gate–they climb over the fence like thieves and robbers. Instead of coming to scripture through the central theme of loving God and others, the Pharisees invented complex theologies and difficult rules, and taught these for the truth. They built a high fence of scripture interpretation and behavioural pedigrees and climbed over it to harass the sheep. 

Jesus said the sheep are smart enough to tell the difference between the shepherd’s voice and that of a thief. The sheep respond to the shepherd, but they run away from the thief. Sounds like the blind man who left the Pharisees and went back to Jesus. 

Jesus also said that bad religionists act like hired hands–as soon as a wolf comes they abandon the sheep and run for their own lives. They are like consultants who dispense high-priced advice, but are long gone when you discover it doesn’t work. In contrast, the shepherd risks his life to protect the sheep. Today, many shepherds act like hired hands. They build their own sheep folds and herd the sheep into them. They insist on their interpretation of scripture and their way of experiencing God. They reject seekers who question their methods or theology, like the Pharisees rejected the blind man. 

Jesus announced, “I am the good shepherd. I am building one flock with one shepherd under my Father. To do this, I will lay down my life and take it up again.” 

When he said this, some people said, “What does he mean, he will lay down his life and take it up again? This is crazy talk. He must be demon possessed.” Others said, “But remember, he made the blind man see. That’s not crazy.” 

Let’s pray. 

Jesus, we are the Pharisees. We interpret scripture and create our own religious systems. Did you say you are building one flock with one shepherd, Jesus? We can help you figure out what that looks like. We will be your consultants. We will submit our proposal with our doctrinal statement and our list of rules. 

Jesus, we are the sheep. We hear confusing voices trying to explain what you mean. Preachers and teachers and scholars, Catholic and Protestant and self-styled theologians insist that they have found the truth of the Bible and distilled it into the right system of belief. But you said, “My sheep hear my voice.” O Jesus, in the conflict of interpretations, we listen for your voice. Help us hear you. Give us courage to ignore all competing voices. 

Jesus, we look forward to the day when there will be one flock with one shepherd. When the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea (Isa. 11:9). When the tree grows who leaves are for the healing of the nations (Rev. 22:2). Come, good shepherd, come. 

Amen. 

I’m Daniel on the channel “Pray with Me”.

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