At that time the festival of the Dedication took place in Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the portico of Solomon. So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, "How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly." Jesus answered, "I have told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father's name testify to me; but you do not believe, because you do not belong to my sheep. My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand. What my Father has given me is greater than all else, and no one can snatch it out of the Father's hand. The Father and I are one." John 10:22-30
The other night I got to go to sheep camp with my dear friend Cornelia. She brought in a little lamb that had been rejected by his mother. The little lamb had a crooked spine and initially could not stand. As someone who has lived with the pain of a crooked spine, I had a genuine compassion for the little guy. Kee, the sheep herder, told me that he had worried about the little abandoned boy. He prayed at night because he was so concerned that the little lamb seemed so challenged. Kee then told me that within two days, he was up and walking and thriving. I can attest to the fact that he was hungry and greedy like any newborn, full of life and truly a precious creature full of good life medicine.
Jesus is challenged by the local religious leaders about his identity. He reminds them that he has already explained to them who he is and they won't believe. He goes on to tell them of the intimacy of his relationship to God, the Divine Creator and his father. An intimacy and a relationship that gives him an intimate relationship with those who seek God. They are Christ's sheep, and he promises to care for them tenderly. We are reminded today that we have a savior who love us intimately and tenderly, whether we are perfect or barely able to stand. God wants us and draws us close at all times. The gentlest shepherd who hold the most vulnerable tenderly and ever so close.
Today, I ask God to help me be a disciple by being a person of compassion and tenderness. May we reach out to all people as if they were vulnerable little lambs, demonstrating God's love through our gentleness and compassion. May the world know the shepherd through our hands and our hearts.
O God, whose Son Jesus is the good shepherd of your people: Grant that when we hear his voice we may know him who calls us each by name, and follow where he leads; who, with you and the Holy Spirit, lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.