Saturday 20 April 2013

John 10, v 22/31

The gospel reading for Sunday is about the visit of Jesus to the Temple where he became surrounded by Jews wanting to know if He was the Messiah. They wanted Him to say so positively and the reply of Jesus was that what He had accomplished was evidence enough to confirm who He was and if they had followed Him. This meeting took place after Jesus had told them He was the good shepherd who cared for those who followed Him.

The reason so many people doubted Him, as they do now, is not because they cannot find out about Him, it is because they either reject what they are told or are just not interested. Jesus pointed out the healings He had made, but like many opponents, they selected just what they wanted to believe.

This was made manifest to me when I was listening to a television debate. It was amazing to hear the anti-Christian ranting, and then to hear people who claimed to be Christian, selecting biblical passages and deliberately distorting them to justify immoral practices condemned by Scripture. Politicians distort facts and figures as a matter of course, yet this is what people do when they read the Bible.

People fail to find God because they have never come to know Jesus, who said quite plainly, ‘no one comes to the Father except through me’. Earlier in this Chapter Jesus said, ‘I am the gate, all enter through me’. He said, ‘I know my sheep and I take care of them’. Brash people say they do not need a crutch to hold me up, I can stand on my own two feet, yet the same people will make sure they have adequate insurance to cover them for all eventualities.

A friend was telling me he had just moved house and had not taken out insurance immediately but was intending to do so when he had settled in, but before he had done so his home was broken into and property taken. The Bible is offering cover for eternal life. How many were just going to go to Church but never quite made it, now face eternal loss. The modern day philosophy is live life to the full, have a good time, but research has show being a Christian and living the Christian life is good for you spiritually and medically.

There are two kinds of people who call themselves Christian. There are the true believers and the professing ones. The true believer listens to Jesus and they endeavour to follow His teaching. That inevitably means falling out with friends who expect you to still indulge in actions inconsistent with Christian standards. There is also the need for your presence at Church on Sundays unless there is something (really) pressing that necessitates your absence, rather than be with your friends at the supermarket.

In the area where I live people rise early each week-day in order to travel distances for work, yet many will be at Church at 9.30a.m. on Sunday; that is dedication. The professing Christian will be there when it suits to do so, and will not be so ready to forego those pleasures which do not fit in with Christian teaching.

This is why those who lead services need to be equally dedicated in their preparation to ensure they are offering worthy spiritual nourishment. We can hear talks on climate change and political issues elsewhere.

In Jesus’ time shepherds would know their sheep by name. A group of shepherds would put their sheep in a communal pen at night and they would be looked after by one shepherd who would not let anyone enter who didn’t belong there. The next day each shepherd would call their sheep who would recognise the shepherd. Jesus used this analogy to show Himself as having similar care for those who follow Him.

Jesus said His sheep obey Him and do what He commands. This may mean some considerable effort and concentration on the part of the sheep. Everyone who tries to follow Jesus will find on occasion it becomes hard and needs determination, and we will fail. It also means giving up something we might otherwise like doing greatly, perhaps costing us friendships, but this is part of the cost and Jesus always warned there might be a price to pay. In return, He offers peace joy comfort, the feeling of forgiveness and belonging to Him.

No one can be forced or coerced into becoming a true Christian, they have to make that decision, and the millions who have done so have never regretted and lived more fulfilled lives.

Make sure you are at Church to follow the Good Shepherd and God bless you.

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