Many churches throughout the world use a Bible reading schedule called a "lectionary." It's just a fancy word meaning "selected readings." Posts like this reflect on the readings for an upcoming Sunday or other Church holiday, as found in the historic one-year lectionary.
There are times when even the best of teachers are misunderstood. This is precisely what happens with Jesus in John chapter ten. He initially sets out to explain that "the thief" and his representatives try to gather sheep away from their rightful shepherd, and that Jesus is the shepherd who cares for his "sheep," the people who hear his voice and respond to him.
Those who believe Jesus' words are his people, who know his voice and follow him. All who speak in opposition to Jesus are "thieves and robbers" (v. 8). Jesus will not have his sheep follow them.
This has been a matter of dissent among Christians for millennia. We always seem ready, on the one hand, to condemn those who would lead Christians astray. True doctrine must be protected. At the same time, there are voices, which some identify as those of thieves and robbers, who say they are right and that those others are the false teachers.
This whole episode in the work of Jesus calls for careful discernment. Christian teachers are required to evaluate Jesus' words carefully and fairly. We must constantly be ready to ask whether we are discerning what God has said rightly. The individual Christian must also be vigilant. It is a challenge to hear and understand Jesus well. But as we are hearing and understanding the words and works of Jesus carefully, we can know he will lead us faithfully as his sheep, caring for us just as we need.
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