Letters to the Prison - Week 104

Hello, everyone.  We miss our in-person fellowship with you.  Meanwhile, we hope that you find these letters encouraging.  Be sure to thank the people who make them available.
Last week, we read Jesus’ 16th “truly truly” statement:
•… Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. -John 10:8a
This is a profound claim that Jesus makes about himself.  To begin, we’ve already seen that Jesus isn’t talking about literal sheep and shepherds.  He’s speaking of people and their religious leaders.  Further, Jesus draws a sharp comparison between himself and the other leaders.  The other leaders are “thieves and robbers…” (John 10:8b).  They are the kind of shepherd God speaks against through the prophet Ezekiel (Ezekiel 34:1-10).  But that’s not all.  The idea that Jesus is the door is stunning.  So stunning, in fact, that he repeats it and clarifies what he means:
•I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. -John 10:9
In this analogy, Jesus isn’t just the shepherd… he’s the door.  He’s the way in.  Into where?  When Jesus promises that anyone who enters by him “will be saved,” it’s clear that Jesus is no longer speaking of a little stone pen where sheep are kept.  And, this isn’t the only time Jesus claims to be the exclusive way into a place.  Later in our study of John, we’ll see Jesus say this:
•I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. -John 14:6
So, Jesus is claiming to exclusively control access to the Father… and salvation.  Anyone can come to the Father, but they must go through Jesus.  There’s no other way.  Anyone claiming to know or provide another way to the Father and salvation is a thief and a robber, according to Jesus.  He has another sharp comparison to make about this:
•The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. -John 10:10
False religious leaders who promote ways to salvation that deny Jesus are stealing from, killing, and destroying their followers, according to Jesus.  Jesus, in contrast, has come to provide abundant life.  This is the same kind of life Jesus talks about earlier in John (3:16, 4:14, 5:24-26 are just a few examples).  It isn’t just everyday humdrum life.  It is abundant life.  Eternal life.
Jesus continues with what will turn out to be a bombshell of a claim:
•I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.  -John 10:11
Once again, we suggest reading Ezekiel 34:11-16.  This will give you a very clear idea about what exactly Jesus is claiming here about himself… and it is nothing short of astonishing.  We will look at this more closely next week.  Until then, where are you in your choice about Jesus?  Is he who he says he is?  Do you hear him calling you?  Will you follow him?  We love you!  

Dean A.

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