Today’s One Year Bible reading for Friday May 18 is 1 Samuel 22:1-23:29, John 10:1-21, Psalm 115:1-18 and Proverbs 15:18-19. In the Old Testament reading David narrowly escapes Saul on several occasions and saves the town of Keilah while Saul’s actions become more and more reprehensible. It’s an exciting story and I highly recommend it. The verse that spoke to me this morning however wasn’t from the Old Testament reading it was from the New. That verse, John 10:16 follows:
I have other sheep, too, that are not in this sheepfold. I must bring them also. They will listen to my voice, and there will be one flock with one shepherd. – John 10:16
Jesus is compared to a shepherd several times in the New Testament. This comparison is made by Jesus himself as well as by both Paul and Peter. But the comparison is used extensively in the Old Testament, as well. It is first used in Genesis and repeated in 2 Samuel, 1 Chronicles, the Psalms of David, as well as in the writings of the prophets Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Hosea, Micah, Zechariah and Isaiah and probably other places as well. Some of these passages talked about God. Others were prophetic references to the ministry of Jesus.
Since this is obviously a very important Biblical concept it makes sense, to me, to think a bit about what a shepherd really does.
In ancient times shepherding was nomadic and dangerous work. The shepherd had to protect his flock from wild animals as David points out in 1 Samuel 17:36 when he assures Saul that he will kill Goliath just as he killed lions and bears that threatened his father’s flock.
But shepherds weren’t only protectors. They were also the undisputed leaders of their flock. It was the shepherd who set the course and the sheep that followed them and them alone. I have read in fact that when several shepherds combined their flocks, each could call out their own sheep because the sheep actually did know their voice.
It seems obvious to me, that the sheep in the sheepfold are the Jewish people and those outside are the nations from whom most modern-day Christians descend. The verse closes by saying that both groups will be combined in a single flock under the same shepherd, who is Jesus Christ.
This single verse speaks to me on many levels.
I love that Jesus says He has other sheep (not He will someday have other sheep) because sometimes I need to be reminded that none of this was accidental. God chose me, in fact, long before I was born. Just as He chose you.
This idea of belonging to Jesus helps me understand why I have always felt such a connection to Him. It helps me understand why I started reading the Bible when I was a child – despite my parent’s contempt for my Grandmother’s Bible based faith, for example. It explains why I kept returning to Christianity over and over again even though I didn’t really understand just what I was returning to.
Through God’s word I am finally beginning to get a handle on what it means to be a Christian. Now I know that Jesus is my shepherd. And I know what a shepherd does. But there are times when I still struggle to let Him lead.
Sheep are prone to wander.
I don’t range as far afield as I once did. I don’t entertain other gods or other spiritual practices. I will never return to New Age or anything that came during or before. I am committed to my faith. But my mind wanders anyway.
I let anxiety and fear crowd out faith. I stay up too late. I binge watch TV and can’t spend the time I want to spend in prayer the next day. I follow God’s call slowly and imperfectly. But He keeps right on calling. And this morning, it is nice to know He always has and He always will.
Dear Lord, Thank You for calling me into Your fold and never giving up on me. Thank You for being so clear in telling me what I need to do. Forgive me for my wandering mind and lack of resolve. Forgive me for being so slow to act. Please continue to protect me and my family. And please help me become the person I am meant to be. One who may advance Your Kingdom in accordance with Your specific will for my life. Help me to do whatever I can to help others take their rightful place among Your flock, beginning with my boys. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Tomorrow’s One Year Bible reading for Saturday May 19 is 1 Samuel 24:1-25:44, John 10:22-42, Psalm 116:1-19 and Proverbs 15:20-21. But I will not be journaling on it here. At this point I’m going back to my handwritten journal. Each Sunday, however, I will pick my favorite entry from the preceding week and post it on this page!
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