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The Searching Sheep
Messages and information today are texted, tweeted, broadcast, e-mailed, phoned, lectured, announced, packaged, and repackaged. The means and avenues for communication are many. Yet when it comes to the person known as Jesus of Nazareth we are often left standing in the place of the Jewish people who gathered around Jesus at that portico (John 10:22-23). We long to know, Who are you, Jesus? and perhaps want to probe, What are you really about? Of course the qualification is for him to “tell us plainly” (John 10:24). As the church we have grown accustomed to the idea of Jesus seeking out the lost sheep and bringing them safely home—of knowing the sheep intimately by name. Today’s texts are rich in reframing who is searching for whom. Who is seeking after Jesus, and to what does that seeking lead? Still, will we be satisfied with any answer? The faith of Tabitha and the miracle-working Peter, the vision of saints and mythical beasts, and even Jesus’ works point to one who is in and of God. Yet we wonder if it can’t be spelled out for us more clearly. In this season of proclaiming a Christ who breaks the powers of death and whose realm is one of glory, we open ourselves to questions of exactly who this Jesus is—and see answers coming to life in story, miracles, and testimony. Today is an opportunity for us in weakness and glory, in doubt and in faith, in simplicity and awe to seek and embrace the one who is already in our midst.
Gospel: John 10:22-30
Jesus responds to questions about his identity with the remarkable claim that he and the Father are one. Those who understand this are his sheep; they hear his voice, follow, and will never be snatched from his hand.
22At that time the festival of the Dedication took place in Jerusalem. It was winter, 23and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the portico of Solomon. 24So 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.” 25Jesus answered, “I have told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name testify to me; 26but you do not believe, because you do not belong to my sheep. 27My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me. 28I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand. 29What my Father has given me is greater than all else, and no one can snatch it out of the Father’s hand. 30The Father and I are one.”