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Bigger Circles - John 10

In John chapter 10, Jesus continued his critique of the Pharisees who were challenging the healing he had just done for the blind man.  He described himself as the good shepherd and even as the gate to the sheep pen.  In this metaphor we are the sheep.  The good shepherd is our caretaker and the pen provides unity and safety.  The gatekeeper in this situation would often lay down in front of the gate, becoming the gate.  This is why he described himself as the gate itself.  Nobody would come into the Kingdom if it was not through him.  He said that those who came before him, the Pharisees and other church leaders, were thieves and robbers.  There is much to unpack in all of this, but I want to focus on an often missed side statement.  In the middle of all of this he made this statement about sheep from other pastures.  What was he talking about?

"I have other sheep, too, that are not in this sheepfold. I must bring them also. They will listen to my voice, and there will be one flock with one shepherd." - John 10:16

Jesus was constantly challenging those around him to expand their circle.  He wanted them to know that those on the outside would become first in the Kingdom.  He was and is a fan of the underdog.  In this metaphor the sheep pen is probably understood to be the nation of Israel.  The other sheep are often understood to be the gentiles and this is why many of us were brought into the faith circle.  This is a valid interpretation, but I think it is worth thinking about who you think is in the fold, and who you think is out.  Jesus is as radical today as he was then, and if you find yourself comfortable with his words you are probably not understanding them.  I think we may all be a little surprised with who we are sharing space with when we look around the final sheep pen.   

God help us to expand our circles.  Amen


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