Reading for today: John 10:11-18
My daughter and I were discussing the prevailing themes in tv shows the other day. Yes, we are that kind of family. Sara shared she has noticed that a common character today in shows and movies is a demon, an evil entity threatening the security and well-being of humankind. She continued her observations by saying she thought it was interesting that writers have embraced the demon piece of the spiritual battle raging around us, but avoid the God piece. She was quiet for a moment, then stated, “I guess it’s because the writers want to paint the picture that we can be God.”
Yep, pretty much hit the nail on the head. We all love stories. We all relate to stories. Stories are a powerful vehicle conveying what we believe and how we interpret our world. Even the most jaded and secular minded among us acknowledge we have an enemy in our story. How we respond to and overcome this enemy is the true crux of the issue.
Jesus uses a story in these verses to tell his story. It’s clear, simple and movingly profound.
John 10:11-18 — “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may 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 I have authority to take it up again. This is the charge I have received from my Father.”
We have an enemy who desires our destruction. He is like a wolf, prowling around, seeking to destroy and scatter. While the writers of contemporary tv shows and movies of our era seem to understand the destructive nature of our enemy, they completely miss that God, our Abba Father, is the only one able to protect us and defeat this enemy. To snatch us back from this enemy, to cause his defeat, it cost our loving Father the life of His only son. God endured the death of the one He loved the most for us…for His sheep. We, like sheep, are vulnerable, stubborn, lost, unprotected, and incapable of protecting ourselves. We are not God as the stories of our day would like us to believe, we are simple sheep.
As this story in John unfolds, we learn the son was not forced or coerced or bullied into dying for us, but that he willingly laid down his life. This son, Jesus, knew some of us would choose to hear him and follow his voice. He knew some would reject him and follow other voices. Yet, he still came to live among us, to walk with us, to eat with us, to teach us. He still chose to die…even for those who would walk away from his offer of protection and abundant life. For those who would spit on him and deny him and ridicule him, he still chose to die. What a story!
There never has been and there will never be a story written like that of Jesus…because his story was not written by the mind or heart of a human…it was written and orchestrated and scripted by an all-powerful, all-knowing, all-loving, eternal, grace bestowing God.