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And yet, there are those other sheep who belong to Jesus.
Could it be that the other sheep include the Samaritan woman whom Jesus meets at a well and engages in a rather interesting theological conversation about worship?
Thus, we might want to be careful with our use of this image!
This reading from John 10 falls within the Easter cycle, and the reason it was chosen for this day may have to do with the statement in verse 17, that Jesus lays down his life in order to take it up again.
As Lillian Daniel reminded us in her message at the 2015 Festival of Faith (a gathering of Michigan Disciples and United Church of Christ folk), God is the shepherd, and we are all sheep.
We get in trouble when we begin to think of ourselves as shepherds (whether clergy or lay leaders), thereby ending up as the hired hand.
Nonetheless, his overall policy was rather inclusive.
At the time that John writes this Gospel, the transition from a Jewish dominated church to a Gentile one is well underway.
The Christian world is rather diverse, with thousands of different versions.
Down through the ages attempts have been made to determine who is “orthodox” and who is not. If we say Jesus, which works for me, on what basis he decide?
He is the good shepherd who is willing to lay down his life for the flock (Good Friday), but takes it up again (Easter).
Laying down his life is not forced upon him, but is a decision that he has made of his own accord, again with the intention of taking it up again.