Read John 10
I really enjoyed John 9, but the discourse at the end of the chapter between Jesus and the Pharisees continued into the next chapter.
How do we know? The chapter begins: Very truly I tell you Pharisees.” There’s not much room for discussion about who these words are aimed at. Don’t check out of this message for there is always application for us.
God’s Chosen People went into exile in Babylon after repeated warnings not to worship other gods. The warnings went unheeded and people had a 70-year hiatus. Actually, the people endured captivity once again but while they were away, the land enjoyed a Sabbath rest.
After the captivity and return, worshiping other gods seems to have diminished among the prevailing offenses of God’s Chosen People. We see religious orders emerging—Pharisees and Sadducees. Of these two, the Pharisees gained their status by knowledge of God’s word. There were already scribes during the captivity.
The Pharisees were the smart guys and Jesus had just told them that they were blind. It could be worse. He could have called them robbers or thieves. That was coming later.
Jesus uses the shepherd and the sheep as a metaphor. There is a gate in and out of the sheep pen. That’s the only legitimate point of entry and exit. There is a gatekeeper. He only responds to the shepherd.
The shepherd uses only the gate. He calls his sheep and they follow him. They will not follow a stranger. In fact, they social distance themselves from the stranger. The sheep know the voice of the shepherd.
Now that we are in chapter 10, let’s see if it gives us a little insight into the previous chapter. Let’s go back to the scene with the second appearance of the man born blind who now can see before the Pharisees. They asked him the same questions they did the first.
The man replied: Why are you so interested? Do you want to be his disciple too?
Then they hurled insults at him and said, “You are this fellow’s disciple! We are disciples of Moses! We know that God spoke to Moses, but as for this fellow, we don’t even know where he comes from.”
The man answered, “Now that is remarkable! You don’t know where he comes from, yet he opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly person who does his will. Nobody has ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.”
The Pharisees had assumed the role as shepherds of God’s Chosen People but the people did not know their voice. The Pharisees spoke as strangers not as the voice of God. They knew the rules, came up with some new ones, but they did not know God’s heart. The people could tell that they were not their own shepherds.
We often think of Jesus as the Good Shepherd, and he is and we will get there soon, but Jesus also identifies as the gate. Whoever enters through him will be saved.
Our lives will be all about him, coming and going and finding green pasture because of him.
I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture.
It seems like a unique metaphor, but consider its presentation not in the first person from the words of Matthew.
Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.
Jesus denounced the religious hierarchy and replaced it with a relationship with God. He was the way, the only way.
He is the way, the only way.
Had the Pharisees truly received God’s written word, they would have recognized the Word that came in the flesh.
Many people were beginning to see how estranged from God the religious leaders had become. The Pharisees did not know his voice.
We too must make sure that we do not become religious. We must not become self-righteous. We have our traditions and practices that come with being God’s child. He wants us to put everything we have to use for his glory, but what we create and grow accustomed to must not supplant our relationship with God.
We must seek God and his kingdom and his righteousness first. How do we do this in this crazy world?
We must know his voice.