08 September 2014

Encountering Jesus ~ "I just don't get it? Why didn't they understand?" ~

“Very truly I tell you Pharisees, anyone who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.” Jesus used this figure of speech, but the Pharisees did not understand what he was telling them. (John 10.1-6)
John 10 appears to continue directly from where John 9 ended. Jesus is still addressing the Pharisees. At the end of chapter 9, He had informed them that they were blind, spiritually. Jesus wanted them to understand that because of their refusal to let Him help them see, their sin remained. As such, they stood guilty before a God they knew beyond any shadow of doubt to be immeasurably holy.

In chapter 10 Jesus continues trying to teach those stubborn Pharisees using one of my favorite images and ways to think of Jesus... as the Good Shepherd. There are so many passages that speak of the Savior as a shepherd. Many are found in the Old Testament:
  • Then I will set over them one shepherd, My servant David, and he will feed them; he will feed them himself and be their shepherd. (Eze 34.23)
  • For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls. (1 Peter 2.25)
  • When Jesus went ashore, He saw a large crowd, and He felt compassion for them because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and He began to teach them many things. (Mark 6.34)
  • The words of wise men are like goads, and masters of these collections are like well-driven nails; they are given by one Shepherd. (Eccl 12.11)
  • The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want... (Psalm 23.1)
  • But He led forth His own people like sheep And guided them in the wilderness like a flock. (Psalm 78.52)
  • Oh, give ear, Shepherd of Israel, You who lead Joseph like a flock; You who are enthroned above the cherubim, shine forth! (Psalm 80.1)
  • Like a shepherd He will tend His flock, In His arm He will gather the lambs And carry them in His bosom; He will gently lead the nursing ewes. (Is 40.11)
  • "I will feed My flock and I will lead them to rest," declares the Lord GOD. (Eze 34.15)
  • Hear the word of the LORD, O nations, And declare in the coastlands afar off, And say, "He who scattered Israel will gather him and keep him as a shepherd keeps his flock." (Jer 31.10)
  • "Then I will give you shepherds after My own heart, who will feed you on knowledge and understanding. (Jer 3.15)
  • "I will also raise up shepherds over them and they will tend them; and they will not be afraid any longer, nor be terrified, nor will any be missing," declares the LORD. (Jer 23.4)
  • And I will bring Israel back to his pasture and he will graze on Carmel and Bashan, and his desire will be satisfied in the hill country of Ephraim and Gilead. (Jer 50.19)
  • And the LORD their God will save them in that day As the flock of His people; For they are as the stones of a crown, Sparkling in His land. (Zech 9.16)
When I read those verses in John 10, Jesus refers to an example that the prophets, the psalmists, had used before: that of God providing a Good Shepherd to care for the flock of Israel. Does anyone else wonder at that? The list of verses above is not, by any stretch of the imagination, a comprehensive list of all the Old Testament verses that talk about a The Shepherd that God would one day send to His people.

Why didn't they get it? How could they not see it? With all their "book" knowledge, how could they miss this clear reference... this clear picture... that can be found throughout the Law and the Prophets?

Jesus spoke using a figure of speech, a parable, a simile, an imaginative comparison... a saying intending to teach. Matthew Henry says of this fact: 
...the Pharisees, who were confident of their own position, and gloried in their influence over men, and whose moral nature was steeled and armed to resist even a possible reference to themselves as "thieves," or "robbers," or "aliens," and who would not admit any of Christ's claims to their own disparagement, understood not what things they were which he was saying to them. The blind man had heard [the Messiah's] voice, obeyed, found healing, advanced step by step from a bare knowledge of "a man Jesus" to a confession of him as one empowered by God; to a belief that he was a "Prophet," able to relax Mosaic Law; and finally to a ready acknowledgment that he was the Son of God. The Pharisees were conscious of neither need, nor blindness, nor desire of salvation, nor of the Shepherd's care or grace. They will not go to him for life. They can make nothing of his enigmatic words. They take counsel against him. Their misconception contrasts strongly with the susceptibility of the broken-hearted penitents."
This reality sobers me.

Just like with the man born blind's Jesus encounter and the Pharisees' response - it has me asking where I'm blind and my own arrogance and pride prevents me from even recognizing that blindness, where I'm missing out on what God has already clearly explained in His Word.

Maybe the best words with which to close today~

Open my eyes that I may see
Glimpses of truth Thou hast for me;
Place in my hands the wonderful key
That shall unclasp and set me free.

  Silently now I wait for Thee,
Ready, my God, Thy will to see;
Open my eyes, illumine me,
    Spirit Divine!

Open my ears that I may hear
Voices of truth Thou sendest clear;
And while the wave notes fall on my ear,
Everything false will disappear.

Open my mouth and let me bear
Tidings of mercy everywhere;
Open my heart and let me prepare
Love with Thy children thus to share.

Open my mind that I may read
More of Thy love in word and deed;
What shall I fear while yet Thou dost lead?
Only for light from Thee I plead.

photo credit: karah24 via photopin cc

this week's gratitude list

(#'s 4791 - 4819)

meeting the cutest little porcupine pup (?) ever

a great group of international students and I'm privileged to be their ESL teacher this year

getting nipped by a red-tailed hawk -- means I was close enough to actually see such a magnificent animal up close and personal

memories of watching shepherds in Niger

a new hymn album

being reminded of a song (Open My Eyes) of which I'd not thought for a long time

really special Saturday with my Tori-girl - she got to go on an animal rescue and be present for the release of a merlin

picnic with the youth group staff

finding some great online tools to use for ESL

listening to my high schoolers chatter about their new Chromebooks and etextbooks... and help each other when they get stuck

the humor in the fact that my 4th and 2nd grader LOVE homework... while my kindergartner says "Stink it!" every single time

growing bobcat kitty

Saturday night sleepover with a friend who has the best belly laugh EVER!

watching my kiddos grow up and slowly become more responsible

Rebekah's started her new job

everyone is enjoying volleyball

hoping that the crawdad that went missing from a tub in our house doesn't start to stink

a few text conversations with friends that just made me smile

one week of school under the belt

reading a couple of really great books and then being able to share them with a really great friend

our support level slowly keeps creeping upwards

a friend and a loved one who've been in the hospital is finally home... the privilege of praying for those we know and love

a pile of books I'm trying to work my way through

listening to Elsie Mae read to Mary Michelle

planning a birthday party

anticipating a graduation from a booster seat to a regular seatbelt....

...and the resulting promotion from car seat to booster! They are growing up!

hoping our internet start being more cooperative... soon!

Ten most recent posts in this series:
Click here for all of the titles and their corresponding links in the Encountering Jesus series.

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