Wednesday, January 9, 2008

climbing the walls

I read John 10:1-21 this morning and was captured, once again, by the ministry of Jesus--not just as a Savior, but as Shepherd. The context of John's writing is that the Pharisees were discounting the miraculous work of Jesus in chapter 9. Jesus healed a man who had been blind since birth and, of no small note, John uses more space to record the debate among the religious elite afterwards than he does to record the miracle itself. The skeptics couldn't get past the obstacles of motive, meaning and mechanics. Why would Jesus minister to that fellow? How did He really do it? What's the catch? What's the precedent? Their playbook had no helpful entries for Divine spitting (see 9:6) and miraculous sight. The problem is that Jesus didn't fit into the narrow box of their religious expectations.

Or, was it the other way around?

In chapter 10, Jesus speaks about thief or robber who tries to enter into the sheep pen by "some other way" (v. 1). No doubt, Jesus is speaking about the false teachers in His day. Pseudo-shepherds (Pharisees) came to the sheep (God's people, the Jews) but, not the straight-in way. They came over the walls, under the fence, around the sides. They offered life with God through a list of laws and legalisms. It was a straight and narrow system. But, Jesus held out an even "straighter" and "narrower" offer: Himself. He is the Good Shepherd (10:11) who enters the sheep pen through the simplest way and extends and invitation to people to a simple, satisfying life. No more complicated rules. No more strenuous efforts to climb over fences. Life-pasture is experienced in Christ.

OK. So, let me tell you what really got my mind to thinking about this passage. In John 10:21, some people asked "Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?" The question made me wonder, what can the devil not do? There are so many things that Satan cannot do, but it's not for a lack of trying. He tries to scale the walls of my life---to present other "ways" that are never the plain portal to pasture. He complicates my life by offering me what seems to be a better, easier, faster solution. But, of course, nothing is as simple as Jesus Christ who can do anything!

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