John 10:10-18

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. 

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand, who is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away—and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. The hired hand runs away because a hired hand does not care for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own 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 do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again. I have received this command from my Father.” John 10:10-18

Not long ago I heard a presentation given by Rev. Dr. Rick Barger, now the President of Trinity Lutheran Seminary in Columbus, OH. Pastor Barger told a story that I have thought about every day since hearing it.

Back in 1979 he and his family were living in Teheran as the revolution happened that toppled the government of the Shah and included the capture of the American hostages. On Christmas Eve night, the Barger family and a guest from the US were in their living room, singing Christmas carols at the top of their lungs so their children would not be upset by the shouts of the crowds outside and the roar of the military vehicles passing down their street. He said that night reminded him of two competing, opposing, stories, only one of which could be true.

One story is the story of this fallen world. A story of conquest and violence and power. It is the story of the thief who “comes only to steal and kill and destroy.”

The other story is the one of the baby born of Mary, the Prince of Peace, the Good Shepherd, the one who “came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” The good shepherd who “lays down his life for the sheep.”

Two mutually exclusive stories. One true, the other an illusion. Which will it be? Who will we trust? Whose story will capture our imagination, guide our actions, motivate us to live our lives?

Will we trust violence, conquest, “gittin’ them before they git us?” Or the One who calls us to love our enemies, to do good to those who persecute us, and to turn the other cheek?

It seems crazy, doesn’t it?

These are two competing stories, both vying to capture our hearts and our minds. The thief and the Good Shepherd. One, the Father of Lies. The other, the Truth who sets us free.

Which will it be?

Let us pray: Dear Lord, this morning we trust that your story is the only path to peace, to justice, to the life that is truly life. We turn from the seductive voice of the thief to pray again using your words from the cross: Forgive us, Father, for we so often do not know what we are doing. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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2 Responses to “John 10:10-18”

  1. Lynette Says:

    Several times a week I want to comment and thank you for for taking the time to share these insights each day, but I get distracted or decide I’m “too busy”. So today, thank you for being a voice of clarity and hope in the brokenness of our world. I need some gospel proclamation to start my day. Thanks.

  2. Kara Says:

    So powerful. Your words are full of The Spirit to help us understand. Thank you

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