Letters to the Prison - Week 117

Hello, everyone!  We’re continuing our study of John 10.  But before we move on:
One more thing to consider about how Jesus interacts with his enemies:  Everything Jesus says and does is carefully and wisely tailored to encourage his enemies to embrace the truth… so that they can have eternal life and peace with God… and live forever in his kingdom… and Jesus does that because of his perfect, eternal unfathomable and unquenchable love for them.  Does the love of Jesus --even for his enemies-- have an impact on how we choose to interact with others?  It should!  
In fact, let’s look even further back for a moment…  in our discussion of John 10:1-30, we had also suggested reading Ezekiel 34 to see the connection between God’s promises to the “sheep” in Ezekiel’s day and the fulfillment of those promises as they began to unfold in Jesus’ day.  But there’s one last portion of Ezekiel 34 to consider.  We’ve studied God’s promises to his flock and Jesus’ claims to be the fulfillment of those promises.  Further, we saw Jesus giving us some very clear ideas about how he was going to fulfill those promises.  But we haven’t yet considered Ezekiel 34:17-24.  Those verses contain a message for the sheep…  and a warning:  
•“As for you, my flock, thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I judge between sheep and sheep, between rams and male goats. 18 Is it not enough for you to feed on the good pasture, that you must tread down with your feet the rest of your pasture; and to drink of clear water, that you must muddy the rest of the water with your feet? 19 And must my sheep eat what you have trodden with your feet, and drink what you have muddied with your feet?
20 “Therefore, thus says the Lord GOD to them: Behold, I, I myself will judge between the fat sheep and the lean sheep. 21 Because you push with side and shoulder, and thrust at all the weak with your horns, till you have scattered them abroad, 22 I will rescue my flock; they shall no longer be a prey. And I will judge between sheep and sheep. 23 And I will set up over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he shall feed them: he shall feed them and be their shepherd.-Ezekiel 34:17-24
The short version of the point of this warning is:  How we treat one another matters because it reflects the true nature of our hearts –and, therefore, our true standing as part of God’s “flock.”  God is the one and only True Judge of anyone’s heart.  Those of us who think we’re capable, qualified, or authorized to judge one another are only looking for reasons to justify our sinful behavior towards each other.  If we judge others to be unworthy of our kindness, love, patience, or forgiveness –or if we decide they don’t deserve to have their basic needs met, then we’re “off the hook.”  In this way, we convince ourselves that we don’t have to treat others the way God wants us to treat them when the reality is that we’re supposed to love and bless even our enemies (Matthew 5:43-48).  We want to nit-pick one another so that we can ignore the weightier “matters of the law” (Matthew 23:23)… and trample one another.  God abhors this attitude.  
Friends, we who claim to be part of Jesus’ flock are his ambassadors in this world.  Therefore, how we choose to behave at every moment, in every circumstance, with every person matters… eternally.  We need to consider such things carefully.  Pray, dear friends, that we would always have Jesus’ supreme and perfect example of how to love before us at all times.  We love you!

Dean A.

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