Monday, January 11, 2021
Recently, through social media, I have been able to reconnect with several of my Junior High classmates from Michigan. It has been fun to see them all grown up. I wonder how many of them remember this story from eight grade.
Right after lunch we stood in the hallway outside the locked door of our next class. The teacher was late. I had a solution. I went outside, climbed into the room through an open window, and unlocked the door. I invited everyone to come inside and sit down. I assumed it would be a wonderful surprise to the teacher when he came into the room and saw that the students were prepared to learn.
He was surprised all right. He even asked the class who had let them in. I proudly raised my hand, waiting for the commendation I wanted. Instead, I was reprimanded. There, on the teacher’s desk, was a stack of exams and the answer key. It was a surprise test for us. The teacher assumed that I had looked at the exams and the answers. I was labeled a thief of the answers. I was sent to the principal’s office.
That memory introduces the next statements of Jesus in the Gospel of John. The tenth chapter is a continuation of the dialogue Jesus is having with the Jews following their excommunication from the synagogue of the healed blind man in chapter nine. Jesus uses a metaphor to teach them about the true flock of God. He begins by telling them that the sheep have only one true shepherd.
John 10:1 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber.”
That fateful day in 1967 was the only time in my life that I sat in a principal’s office waiting for punishment to be handed out. I had attempted to lead the sheep when I was not their shepherd. I had entered into the sheepfold as a thief and a robber, even though I did not see myself as such. The expectation of honor had blinded me to the reality of my choices.
Many of the religions of the world are being led by people who are also blind. They believe they see the truth, when in reality they are only deepening the darkness of their blindness. Jesus had just stated this in John 9 when He said, “For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.” The expectation of honor and glory and power and authority has turned them into thieves and robbers. And the sheep that follow them are also blind…except for those who will recognize the voice of Jesus and follow Him.
The blind man Jesus healed was in the wrong sheepfold. But when he heard the voice of Jesus he believed and came out. He was actually thrown out for not remaining blind, but he willingly and enthusiastically left to follow the Lord Jesus Christ. All who are called by the Holy Spirit of God will come out of the sheepfold and follow the Good Shepherd.
The One and Only True Shepherd of any flock (religion) is Jesus Christ. All others are thieves and robbers. If you listen you will here the voice of the Good Shepherd calling you to come out. Believe what he says. Believe who He is. Turn your back on whatever flock you are in and follow Jesus. He is the only One who can offer you eternal life.