2018-04-22 – Rev. Dr. Ryan Sato
KNOWN & LOVED
John 10 holds images and verses (1-liners) that are near and dear to us…we’ve just sung “Saviour Like a Shepherd Lead Us” and you gotta love it!
For me in my 20’s, as I was coming back to the fold…I was all about John 10:10. A plaque on my youth pastor’s wall saying “I have come that they might have life, and have it more abundantly.”
Such a great verse for a wayward Christian. Jesus, came to give me abundant life VS the dead-end, bar-hopping party life that I was participating in… there was more to life in Jesus! Little did I know that Jesus was offering more than just an alternative to Friday night dance parties and 2 for 1 drinks during happy hour. John 10:10 wasn’t just a 1-verse wonder to get me to go to Bible Study instead of the pub…it was part of a larger cosmic truth that God has unleashed upon the universe…
You can’t really get the gist of John 10, until you’ve read John 9. So if you’re just joining in on the story here, this is more than just good shepherds and searching for greener pastures. And Jesus isn’t simply talking to a wayward 1st-year university Baptist kid,
he’s talking to stubborn, nay-saying, verging on the edge-of-rage religious leaders.
Jesus has just healed a blindman on the Sabbath. And that has the pharisees upset, but they’re even more perturbed by the aftermath of the healing. As they hone in on the healed man and demand an answer for how/why/what of the healing, he marvels and then delivers a zinger: “Here is an astonishing thing, You do not know where Jesus comes from, and yet he opened MY eyes! Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person born blind…If this man were not from God, he could do nothing!”
The religious leaders respond with more furious-ity… “YOU…were born entirely in SIN…and are you trying to teach us!??”
…And they drive him out of the temple courts.
Hours later, they find Jesus reunited with the healed man, and unleash more verbal assaults.
And it’s in THIS context, that Jesus speaks…to angry, red-eyed, smoke-coming-out-of-their-ears Pharisees.
JESUS looks at them and says:
Very truly, I tell you, anyone who does not enter the sheepfold by the gate but climbs in by another way is a thief and a bandit.
…All who came before me are thieves and bandits; ….The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.
I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
The hired hand, who is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away—and the wolf snatches them and scatters them.
The hired hand runs away because a hired hand does not care 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.
I have other sheep that do not belong to 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 in order to take it up again.
No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord.
I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again.
I have received this command from my Father.
>> And the religious leaders respond…perhaps as we would…some showing a softening of their hearts while others staying callous and unmoved…
“He has a demon and is out of his mind. Why listen to him?”
While others were saying, “These are not the words of one who has a demon.
Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?”
* * * * * * *
–I don’t wanna be a Pharisee…… cuz they’re so bull-headed, hard-hearted and downright nasty.
That 9:34 hard-hearted rebuke always gets me… “You were born entirely in sin, and you are trying to teach us?” Yikes!
I’d like us to go “bad news, good news” with our reflection today…
BAD NEWS first… We are prone to be like Pharisees more often than we are prone to be the delightful, “was blind but now I see” guy of chapter 9. We “going to church-church-guideline & by-laws loving Christians” are going to take up the role of Pharisees sooner than we are going to play the parts of the healed and happy street beggars.
Q: Can you think of a time in your church-going history where you fell on the side of the Pharisee VS the gracious, healed one? Played the part of the rule-keepers VS the people-keepers?
How do these recollections make us feel?
Embarrassed? Ashamed? Remorseful? Regretful?
Well…there’s good news for us!
The good news is that Jesus is a really, really, good shepherd…
And because of the really, really good work that he’s doing in the world…he’s going to get his really, really, good way!
And that really, really, good way is going to lead to a really, really, good pasture…
ONE FLOCK. One Shepherd.
>> That’s good news!
Because whether you’re prone to be a rule-keeping Pharisee, or a people-keeping fool (for Christ)…
There’s one sheep pen for us all. One flock, one shepherd.
And our shepherd, who goes before us, and leads us….has laid down his life for us.
And our shepherd cares for the sheep.
Our shepherd knows us.
Our shepherd brings us in…and trains us to listen to his voice.
Our shepherd loves us…Pharisee-sheep and foolish-sheep all in one big sheep pen of wooly, dusty, baa-ing, bleating, hoof clomping mayhem!
–I call this “good news for bad ewes!” (I realize that ewes is female…so one could also say “good news for bad bucks!”)
>> So…whether you’re a buck or a ewe…the news is that 1 Flock will rule them all!
And perhaps in this season of Easter, we can be reminded that our living Christ is beckoning us (whistling to us) and saying – “be one.”
And that’s why there’s several “we are one” quotes in the bulletin today.
To pray for one another is, first of all, to acknowledge, in the presence of God, that we belong to each other as children of the same God. Without this acknowledgment of human solidarity, what we do for one another does not flow from who we truly are. We are brothers and sisters, not competitors or rivals. We are children of one God, not partisans of different gods. To pray, that is, to listen to the voice of the One who calls us the “beloved,” is to learn that that voice excludes no one. Where I dwell, God dwells with me and where God dwells with me I find all my sisters and brothers. And so intimacy with God and solidarity with all people are two aspects of dwelling in the present moment that can never be separated.
~ Henri Nouwen
There is no ‘them’ and ‘us.’ There is only us.
~ Greg Boyle
Our belonging to one another across every social divide, . . . can never be lost.
But it can be forgotten.
~ Brené Brown
Spirituality emerged as a fundamental guidepost in Wholeheartedness. Not religiosity but the deeply held belief that we are inextricably connected to one another by a force greater than ourselves–a force grounded in love and compassion. For some of us that’s God, for others it’s nature, art, or even human soulfulness. I believe that owning our worthiness is the act of acknowledging that we are sacred. Perhaps embracing vulnerability and overcoming numbing is ultimately about the care and feeding of our spirits.
~ Brené Brown
It is not easy to be a good shepherd, to really listen,
to accept another’s reality and conflicts.
It is not easy to touch our own fears and blocks in relation to people,
or to love people to life.
It is a challenge to help another gradually to accept responsibility for their own life,
to trust themselves, to become less and less dependent on us
and more dependent on Jesus, the Good or the Wonderful Shepherd.
~ Jean Vanier
“We are inextricably connected by a force greater than ourselves….a force grounded in love and compassion…”
For us Jesus-followers, we too, are called to be a people of love and compassion.
Let us be those people…and as we often say in this place, it’s not a work to be done alone.
There is one Saviour…who like a shepherd WILL lead…and IS leading us!
And he doesn’t expect us to do it in our own strength, through our own means…
He has laid down his life and through the love and power of his Father, has taken his life up again…and this life he breathes into us by the breath of the Spirit so we might work and live as a people who are lovingly shepherded by the one who “restores our souls” and “leads us in right paths.”
As we look ahead to the terrain of another week in the “real world”,
let’s take our cues / consolation / power from the prayer of Psalm 23.
Jesus will prepare a way for us…
Jesus will anoint us with power from on high…
And goodness and mercy will pursue us, all the days of our lives.
The Lord is our shepherd…we shall not be in want.
Listen for his voice…
He promises 1 Flock
That will be shepherded by 1 Shepherd…
And Jesus, our Shepherd…
is wonderful, beautiful, loving and really, really, really good.