Letters to the Prison - Week 107

Hello, everyone.  We’re beginning to hear rumblings that we might be able to return and worship our great God and Savior Jesus Christ with you in person soon.  Keep praying!  We miss you!
Meanwhile, we hope these letters have been encouraging you.  Last week, Jesus, the Good Shepherd, revealed how he was going to fulfill his promise (expressed, among other places, through the prophet Ezekiel) to rescue his sheep:  By laying down his life for them.  This was so important to understand that Jesus reiterated it again:
•I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.  -John 10:14-15
Included in these verses is a mind-blowing claim that Jesus makes about himself, his relationship with God the Father –and us.  To begin, we must understand that “knowing” in these verses doesn’t just mean understanding a collection of facts.  It’s not the sort of knowledge a doctor’s office could claim about a person…  they know names, dates, contact information… maybe even some private medical or mental health information… but they still don’t know a person in the way Jesus is talking about here.  It isn’t just a “head knowledge” or a “factual knowledge.”    
The meaning of “know” in these verses is far more intimate.  It is the sort of knowing that comes from a lifetime of relationship together.  It is a progressive, ongoing, developing, and growing knowledge.  Husbands and wives, parents and children, and lifelong friends experience the sort of knowledge being talked about here… though not ever as perfectly as Jesus the Son and God the Father who have had an eternal, perfectly unified relationship the likes of which we can’t even comprehend with our dinky little finite brains.
Still, we catch a glimpse of what this sort of “knowing” looks like in a couple of places in John:  Consider the man born blind’s reaction to Jesus when Jesus introduces himself to him (John 9:35-38); or how the Samaritan woman reacts when Jesus introduces himself in John 4:7-29.  The “sheep hear his voice… and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice” (John 10:3-4).  In these two cases the “sheep” reach a point where they need no further evidence from Jesus that he is who he says he is.  They hear Jesus, recognize him for who he is, and follow him.  The Samaritan woman goes and invites her whole village to come and meet Jesus (John 4:29-30) while the man born blind boldly proclaims the truth about Jesus and then publicly worships Jesus even after being kicked out of the synagogue by the religious leaders (John 9:34, 38).    
We see also, in these two examples, that the sort of “knowing” Jesus speaks of in these verses has to begin somewhere.  We only catch a glimpse of the amazing life that follows for the man born blind and the Samaritan woman, but their stories certainly didn’t end after the brief verses in which we’re introduced to them.  Wouldn’t it be fascinating to see how the rest of their lives turned out?  It would probably be amazing!  Nevertheless, we had the privilege of seeing what it looked like for them to recognize the Good Shepherd when they first heard his voice… and how they responded… with obedience and worship and bold evangelism.
One other thing to consider:  Were they instantly perfect or perfectly educated in the Scriptures before they began obeying and worshipping and proclaiming the truth about Jesus?  No.  What about us?  Is this how we’ve responded to the Good Shepherd?  Have we heard his voice?

Dean A.

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