LENT Day 16 – Follow

“I am the Good Shepherd.  The Good Shepherd puts the sheep before himself, sacrifices himself if necessary.” – John 10

Have you ever stopped to watch the ants work in and out of an ant hill?   They way they selflessly follow each other in and out.  Either taking sand out of the hill or bringing food items in – they are always following one another.  Even more fascinating is when they get into your house and the follow the leader they create up and down your walls and across your floor.  Back and forth in perfect unison.  Amazing actually.  How they distinguish each other, their jobs, and know exactly how to get back home again.

We have now reached chapter 10 in John.  This story is broken into two parts.  It is called He Calls His Sheep by Name and today I use the word follow to describe it.  This story is Jesus describing to the people exactly who he is using a simple story of the shepherd and the sheep.

“I’ll be explicit, then.  I am the Gate for the sheep.  All those others are up to no good – sheep stealers, every one of them.  But the sheep didn’t listen to them.  I am the Gate.  Anyone who goes through me will be cared for – will freely go in and out, and find pasture.  A thief is only there to steal and kill and destroy.  I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of.

“I am the Good Shepherd.  The Good Shepherd puts the sheep before himself, sacrifices himself if necessary…”I am the Good Shepherd.  I know my own sheep and my own sheep know me.  In the same way, the Father knows me and I know the Father.  I put the sheep before myself, sacrificing myself if necessary.  You need to know that I have other sheep in addition to those in this pen.  I need to gather and bring them, too.  They’ll also recognize my voice.  Then it will be one flock, one Shepherd.”

This is a pretty scary world right now that we are living in.  COVID-19 and all that comes with it.  I take personal comfort in the first part of this story.  Jesus is telling us exactly who he is:  he is the good shepherd.  He will care for us, protect us, and guide us.  We are a part of his flock and we can safely follow him.  He knows our name and calls us by it.  He wants us to follow him.

This week as things get fired up around our country over COVID-19, we can be like the ants and follow selflessly those running around in fear.  We can go back and forth over the fear based what ifs.  But those ants will never lead us back home.  Following those ants will lead us to further anxiety and will destroy our peace of mind.

Or this week we can be like the sheep and follow selflessly those running after Jesus.  He will care for our fears, protect us in our fears, and guide us through our fears.  We are his flock and following him will lead us home.  He will call us by our name and love us through this crisis.  He is the Good Shepherd and I will follow him for peace amongst the chaos.  I will follow him home.

STUDY – John 10 (He Calls His Sheep by Name Part 1) – The Message Bible
“Let me set this before you as plainly as I can.  If a person climbs over or through the fence of a sheep pen instead of going through the gate, you know he’s up to no good – a sheep rustler!  The shepherd walks right up to the gate.  The gatekeeper opens the gate to him and the sheep recognize his voice.  He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.  When he gets them all out, he leads them and they follow because they are familiar with his voice.  They won’t follow a stranger’s voice but will scatter because they aren’t used to the sound of it.”
Jesus told this simple story, but they had no idea what he was talking about.  So he tried again.  “I’ll be explicit, then.  I am the Gate for the sheep.  All those others are up to no good – sheep stealers, every one of them.  But the sheep didn’t listen to them.  I am the Gate. Anyone who goes through me will be cared for – will freely go in and out, and find pasture.  A thief is only there to steal and kill and destroy.  I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of.
I am the Good Shepherd.  The Good Shepherd puts the sheep before himself, sacrifices himself if necessary.  A hired man is not a real shepherd.  The sheep mean nothing to him.  He sees a wolf come and runs for it, leaving the sheep to be ravaged and scattered by the wolf.  He’s only in it for the money.  The sheep don’t matter to him.
“I am the Good Shepherd.  I know my own sheep and my own sheep know me.  In the same way, the Father knows me and I know the Father.  I put the sheep before myself, sacrificing myself if necessary.  You need to know that i have other sheep in addition to those in this pen.  I need to gather and bring them, too.  They’ll also recognize my voice.  Then I will be on flock, on Shepherd.  This is why the Father loves me:  because I freely lay down my life.  And so I am free to take it up again.  No one takes it from me.  I lay it down of my own free will.  I have the right to lay it down; I also have th right to take it up again.  I received this authority personally from my Father.”
This kind of talk caused another split in the Jewish ranks.  A lot of them were saying, “He’s crazy, a maniac – out of his head completely.  Why bother listening to him?”  But others weren’t so sure:  “These aren’t the words of a crazy man.  Can a ‘maniac’ open blind eyes?”

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