“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— just as the Father knows me and I know the Father —and I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life —only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”
The Jews who heard these words were again divided. Many of them said, “He is demon-possessed and raving mad. Why listen to him?”
But others said, “These are not the sayings of a man possessed by a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?”
Once again, Jesus declares that he is the Good Shepherd. Jesus first speaks about how he knows his sheep, and his sheep know him. Then he says, "I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd."
Reading this in context, the "other sheep" that Jesus speaks about are those who aren't Jews. The implication is that he is not the Messiah only of Israel but of the whole world. It was shocking to his Jewish listeners because they believed they were the chosen ones.
We might be in danger of making the same mistake the Jews made two thousand years ago. Let me ask you a question: How do you understand the idea of one flock and one shepherd? If we, who claim to be followers of Christ, are divided, then what does that say about the shepherd we are following? Is it Christ we truly follow?
The fault might lie with our understanding —or misunderstanding— of Christian unity. Unity does not mean uniformity. Sheep under the care of a shepherd can be of different colors, shapes, and types. Yet, they remain united because they are in the care of a single shepherd. Similarly, we can be very different from one another, but as long as we follow Christ, we can be united.
The Apostle Paul often talks about unity in diversity. In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul describes the Church as one body with many parts. Each part, or member, has its own function, but all are necessary and valuable to the whole (see 1 Corinthians 12:12-27). Again, this highlights the fact that unity of the Church is not found in uniformity but in diversity, working harmoniously together. The most profound statement in this analogy is that "Christ is the head of the body" (Ephesians 1:22-23).
If we all recognize and accept that Christ, and only Christ, is the head of the body, and we are all members of that one body who have to work together in harmony, then we *will* be united. Otherwise, we will be sheep who do NOT belong to the Good Shepherd but to shepherds who have little to do with Christ.
Something to think about today.
God bless you.