Word for the day by Christian Education Forum
Experience of New Life
“I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”St. John’s theology of life is in union with Christ; he bears testimony of life through Jesus in all its fullness. The seven ‘I am sayings’ in this Gospel is concerned about the physical dimension (light, water, bread, and vine, gate/door, way, and shepherd) of human existence and abundant spiritual possibilities (truth, resurrection, new, and eternal life) in and through Jesus Christ, leading the believer to the Father. ‘I AM’ is the divine name, ego eimi, which when used without the egoism of ‘I am this or I am that’ allows Jesus to participate in the being and power of God.
Sheep and Shepherds: In many parts of rural Britain where shepherd and his dogs still walk hills and moors, searching out his sheep in all weathers with absolute dedication. There is a long history in the Bible of the shepherd who dies in following his vocation; it begins with Abel. We see this in Micaiah’s prophecy about King Ahab: ‘I saw all Israel scattered on the hills like sheep without a shepherd’ (1 King 22:17). We see Jesus comparing multitudes at the Galilean hillside as sheep without a shepherd (Mark 6: 34). When Jesus has to warn his disciples of his impending death he uses the same image: ‘For it is written, I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered’ (Mark 14:27). In the Bible, the relationship between God and His people is often symbolised as that of a shepherd and his flock.
Our Predicament: The indictment of the Pharisees and religious hierarchy of the time by Jesus for spiritual blindness is followed by the parable of the sheepfold, gate, and the good shepherd. Pharisees were bogus, blind leaders. Jesus is pointing out the deviousness of all who claim to be caring for God’s people, but who do not enter into the sheepfold (church) through the right gate, which is Christ himself. Such people are spiritual charlatans depriving people of an intimate relationship with Jesus. Those who have heard the authentic word of God, and who by obeying it have become members God’s community and fellowship. It is because the good shepherd who gave his life on the cross for us that a new an abundant life is possible for us. To come into Christ’s fold assures us first of all security; then freedom to come and go between the certainty of faith within the fold and the fields of experience outside the fold where the sheep will find pasture, and all they need. These verses help us to think about our choices in selecting our spiritual guides and mentors; we should remain vigilant about church planters and the marketing gimmicks of aggressive spiritual salesmen. Jesus is what a shepherd ought to be; he is the shepherd for excellence. Jesus does not offer us an insurance policy for the extension of physical life or an increase of material possessions, but the certainty of a life lived in obedience to God’s will, and reflecting Father’s glory.
Prayer: Dear Lord, give us wisdom to know the difference between right spiritual guides, and those who pretend to be true guides, but are themselves blind. Amen!
Thought for the day: A wise man seeks wisdom; a mad man thinks that he has found it.
Dr. Zac Varghese, London.