Saturday, February 7, 2015

One Fold—One Flock—One Shepherd (John 10:16)

“And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.” (John 10:16, ESV)

The mystery is unfolding. Jesus had been speaking to the Jews most exclusively. They followed Him as a rabbi, teacher, prophet, miracle worker and tracked Him as a rebel, heretic, and insurrectionist. But they were all Jews with limited exceptions. Here Jesus tells His audience that there were other sheep. There were sheep that those sheep who were in the fold did not expect to see in the fold. He was not only the Shepherd and the Gate for Jews, but He was the Shepherd and the Gate for non-Jews or Gentiles. And for the Jews who were instructed to keep themselves set apart and separate for God had taken this to the extreme of not really accepting any others as worshipers of God unless they became fully Jewish.

But Jesus came to seek and to save the lost in the whole world and not just one portion of it. Sure, God had made a special promise to these people that He called His people and who they were to know Him as their God. He still had their future and even their full return firmly in His hands and His plans. But He also had the rest of man in His hands and His plan as well, and Jesus came for all.

In Ephesians 2 we read a reverse instruction to the Gentiles. It was a reminded that they were once on the outside, but because of Christ they (we, me) were brought in. We were not a part of the promise, but we benefited because the promise was fulfilled. Like the shepherd who goes out and brings in the sheep, the Great Shepherd has brought in lost sheep and adopted them into His flock, placed them securely in His fold, and granted them peace.

“Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility” (Ephesians 2:11–14, ESV)

In our world there exists a great amount of hostility. At the center of much of it is a vehement distaste for the nation and people of Israel. Growing along with this is a distaste for outspoken Christians, and in particular those who stand with Israel. This is even true in our own country where there is a growing intolerance for Christians in general and their freedom to live their faith in the reality of their lives. Even though the Jews at large may not recognize Christ as their Savior and Lord, we know Him to be their God. We know that God will keep His promises and so we anticipate their return to the fold. We can pray for them just as we pray for all that they might know that Jesus is the One sent by the Father to give life to all who believe. In Him we are made one and the hostility melts away.

“For if you were cut from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and grafted, contrary to nature, into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these, the natural branches, be grafted back into their own olive tree.” (Romans 11:24, ESV)

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