True and false sheep – John 10:25-28

In the midst of a discussion with some very religious people, Jesus confronts them saying,

… The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness about me, 26 but you do not believe because you are not among my sheep. 27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 

He is only confirming what we have heard many times before – that not everyone will believe. Even among the religious there will be deceivers, many of whom have first deceived themselves. In those days it was Jews celebrating Hanukkah, in our day it might be Christians celebrating Christmas.

In Matthew Jesus spoke of weeds growing in the wheat field and bad fish that needed to be thrown out. Paul elaborates on the same theme to the Corinthian church in 1 Cor 11.

13 For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. 15 So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.

Lets not be surprised when the church disappoints us or seems to be veering off track. Some of it is intentional and motivated by those who never knew Jesus to begin with. As he put it in the Sermon on the Mount,

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

Reflecting Jesus – John 9:4-5

While in the act of healing a man blind from birth, Jesus makes the following declaration,

We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”

The first word that stands out is the first word, “We.” Jesus does not intend to act alone. Here I do not think he is referring to his Father, but to the disciples, who are to work alongside of him.

The next thing that stands out to me is the phrase, “night is coming, when no one can work.” At this moment there is no need to speculate as to when this is or will actually be. It is enough to know there is such a time coming, to motivate us. We will not be able to work whenever or for as long as we want. Procrastination may be a fatal error in this case.

Finally, I see the phrase, “As long as I am in the world,” which somewhat limits the statement, “I am the light of the world.” Jesus is not, or does not intend to be the light of the world in the same way forever. From this statement it seems he no longer fills that role at the present time, since he has left the world physically to be with his Father.

Are these then the days of darkness? Is there no light to be seen or by which to see? Well, not exactly. Jesus has left some light behind if we are prepared to accept the mission.

Remember that first word “We”? There is still work to be done and we are the ones to do it. If we need any further confirmation of this, we find it in the Sermon on the Mount, in Matthew 5:14-16.

14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

In John 8 Jesus first announced that he was the light of the world. In John 9, he added the stipulation that he was the light of the world as long as he was in the world. In Matthew 5, he tell his disciples that they are the light of the world and explains how they are to fulfill that function: Through their good works.

There are numerous reasons to serve Jesus in this world. One of them is this. He expects his light to shine through us, to be reflected off of us, to give the world some way of seeing him. The moon has no light of its own, but can only reflect the light of the sun. Nonetheless on a clear night, a full moon appears to be very bright. Let’s become experts in reflecting Jesus.

A Confident Prayer Prompted by Matthew 7:7-11

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? 11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!

Heavenly Father,

Teach me to ask for whatever I need from you.  Sometimes I forget; sometimes I just do not bother.  Sometimes I am negligent in prayer.  Make the kind of person who asks, seeks and knocks.  Teach me to be confident as I pray.

I know that you are good, so infinitely, incomparably good compared to me.  Sometimes even I do good things for my children or for others.  Why should I not be confident as I approach you with my needs?

Teach me to pray bold, confident prayers.  In the very word confident I see a root implying “faith” or “trust.”  Help me to have complete confidence in you.

You are good and you give good things.  Make me the kind of person who prays for good things that you would be more than happy to give,

In Christ,

Amen.