Jesus Is Rejected
22 That winter, Jesus was in Jerusalem for the Temple Festival. 23One day he was walking in the part of the temple known as Solomon's Porch, 24and the people gathered all around him. They said, “How long are you going to keep us guessing? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly!”
I have told you, and you refused to believe me. The things I do by my Father's authority show who I am. 26But since you are not my sheep, you don't believe me. 27My sheep know my voice, and I know them. They follow me, 28and I give them eternal life, so that they will never be lost. No one can snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father gave them to me, and he is greater than all others. No one can snatch them from his hands, 30and I am one with the Father.
It isn’t often that I tell myself or others, ‘I am confident that I am walking in the centre of God’s will for my life.’ Usually I am struggling to navigate the dead ends, the crossroads and the painfully long stretches of road with no street markers whatsoever. Most of my prayers could be summarized as, ‘Lord, could you be a little clearer?’
Jesus heard the same questions from his peers. Those observing him requested a black and white verbal defense proving he was the Messiah. And yet they were speaking with the man who spoke in parables, and gave his disciples the oblique instruction, ‘Follow me.’
As we seek guidance on an issue we often feel a rising anxiety, but Jesus reminds us that we will have no more skills and resources than sheep – witless, defenceless, easily distracted sheep. Yet even the least capable of the flock can recognize the voice of the Shepherd simply by being found so often under his soothing hand.
It’s difficult to identify a voice after hearing it only once or twice, and it’s impossible for someone else to describe what they sound like. The legacy left after many conversations with a friend is a familiarity with their tone, their inflection and the phrases they commonly use. Rather than focussing so completely on whether to step right or left, I need in a crisis to remind myself to spend time listening, listening more, and listening still more.
The hint that we are hearing the right voice is that Jesus always reminds us, graciously and emphatically, that our lives are not in our own hands but clasped firmly in his. We do not need to search for the path on our own. He is carrying us along.
Great Shepherd, you hold my soul safe from all harm. Only your voice can ring with the sound of truth – teach me to listen for it. Thank you for the confidence I can have in your care. Through the Shepherd who became a Lamb for me, I pray. Amen