Dispatch One Hundred Forty-Six

Posted: April 22, 2015 in Thirty-Fourth Bundle
Tags: , , , , ,

JOHN 10:11-18

11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 The hired hand, who is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away—and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. 13 The hired hand runs away because a hired hand does not care for the sheep. 14 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. 16 I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. 17 For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again. I have received this command from my Father.”

We have been reflecting on a deeply profound early Christian perspective on what we might call the larger identity of Jesus. According to this view, the human being whose feet left prints in the sands of Judea two thousand years ago was also the embodiment of the grace of God which transcends time itself.

It’s important we see this as a deeply creative and metaphorical way of interpreting the higher meaning of Jesus, rather than taking it as a literal description of fact. The “fact” is, there was and is a mystery connected to Jesus that simply defies all attempts to contain it with definitions and doctrines – however orthodox.

In John’s Gospel, the association between Jesus and God (as son and father) is so close and intimate that Jesus is frequently portrayed as the visible act of God’s will and the audible word of God’s voice. It is not God who raises Jesus from the dead, as in the other New Testament biographies, but Jesus-God who takes up his life of his own accord. These are not two separate beings, but two aspects of the One Being – the visible and the invisible, the temporal and the eternal, the particular and the universal.

To look at Jesus, then, is to regard him as the “door,” the “way,” or the “light” through whom the disciple is invited to pass into the abundant life and joy of the Spirit. There is no need to make an exclusive claim on behalf of Jesus, of the kind that must render all other revelations without substance or validity. Instead, by having our devotional focus trained and refined through the lens of Jesus’ gospel and living presence, we can have our vision thrown open to the grace that is everywhere present and always available.

And the way through, once again, is love.

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