Monday: Thieves and Robbers
Read John 10:1-6, Luke 10:25-37, Joel 2:9, Matthew 6:19-20
Jesus mentions two types of villains in this text that seem synonymous. Looking more closely may help us avoid these threats to our spiritual life. In the churches that John shepherded later in his life when he wrote John, his letters, and Revelation, there were threats from inside and outside. We should be on the lookout as individuals and churches for similar enemies.
Thieves break in and steal. They could climb up through windows or even break through walls or roofs. Robbers hid along roads and ambushed. The road to Jericho was infamously dangerous and so Jesus used it as the backdrop for his parable of the good Samaritan.
Can you think of ways that sin wants to break in like a thief and steal your peace, your joy, or your connection with Jesus?
Can you think of ways that sin has ambushed you in the past; robbing you and leaving you empty, hurting and confused?
The good news is that we don’t have to hire a security company to keep us safe against these threats. We just need to make sure we’re finding our security in Jesus, our protective door and our good shepherd.
Tuesday: Abundant Life
Read John 10:7-10, Deuteronomy 30:11-20
It’s in our nature to view commands as restrictive. We’ve been rebels from the beginning which makes it difficult to not feel at least a little repressed when we are told what to do or what not to do. This plays out on societal levels and for us as individuals. It can also affect our spiritual lives if we don’t have a change of mindset (repentance).
God’s commands are the opposite of repressive or restrictive. Instead of being limiting, his commands always bring us into greater abundance (blessing and promise). Think about the difference between a light and a laser. Light is wonderful as it illuminates a room. But when it is focused into a laser it is not diminished. Rather, it becomes even more powerful.
God’s commands do not take anything away from us. We are not missing out by following God. We are becoming closer to God and stepping into abundance. His commands come from love so that we can experience life to the full – and ultimately life eternal.
Are there certain commands that make you feel limited by God? Could you be looking at them with the wrong perspective? How might those commands be helping you experience less of the world and more God?
Wednesday: Hired Hands
Read John 10:11-21, Ezekiel 34, Psalm 23
Israel was a nation of shepherds from the beginning. The care of sheep was a part of their identity as individuals and as a people. It makes sense, then, that the metaphor of shepherds as leaders would be found throughout the bible. John 10 has been used in many lessons on leadership.
Did you know that we are all leaders in one way or another? What makes a good leader? There are certainly gifts and skills that matter but ultimately Jesus mentions one indispensable characteristic: Leaders care.
What has God given you to care for? That’s another way of asking, “What are you leading?” Do you truly care? Sometimes we get hurt and it’s hard to keep caring. But being willing to truly care is the difference between a shepherd and a hired hand or a manager.
King David was a shepherd leader. His Psalm shows us one more truth about shepherd leadership. No matter how high we rise in leadership, God is the ultimate shepherd and we all need him to lead us if we’re to thrive.
Thursday: You Are Not Among My Sheep
Read John 10:22-31, Hebrews 10:23-25, 1 Peter 5:6-11, 1 Corinthians 15:33
In verse 26 Jesus tells the Jewish doubters why they don’t believe in him. They are not among his sheep. In our increasingly secular world, many people who do seek after God attempt to do it on their own. This is a fool’s errand. Jesus and others throughout the New Testament make it clear that we need other faithful people in our lives if we’re to find faith or keep our faith.
We might think it’s a small thing to invite a friend over for a meal or to grab coffee. But we’re actually giving people a preview of what it’s like to be in the flock. We’re giving them a touchpoint with the community of faith that could lead to their salvation. Likewise, when we encourage a hurting or distanced brother or sister, we’re bringing them back into the fold. When we get hurt our reaction is often to distance ourselves. We should fight to gather with believers even as we deal with inevitable church hurts.
The crowd ultimately wanted to stone Jesus. What company are you keeping? Are you becoming more or less faithful because of you sheep peeps?
Friday: For Which Good Work?
Read John 10:32-39, John 5:18, 8:59
An often repeated falsehood about Jesus is that he never claimed to be God. The truth is, he repeated his claim as the Son of God often and his opponents understood what he was saying and wanted to kill him for it even if they didn’t totally understand what he meant.
Jesus wasn’t all talk. He also walked the walk. The miracles he did could have only been done by God. Furthermore, each miracle was done with the purpose of revealing a spiritual truth about God and Jesus.
Jesus was not just a good teacher or a good example. He was (and is) the one whom God set apart to save the world: the anointed one or messiah. The Feast of Dedication (Hanukkah) celebrated those who were set apart (dedicated) two centuries before Jesus’ death. They relied on a miracle of light to overthrow a king set against God’s people. Jesus is the ultimate set apart messiah. He is the light of the world. His reign overthrows any power set against God.
Take a moment to reflect on the miracles of Jesus in your life.
Saturday: The Calm Before The Storm
John 10:40-42, Luke 5:16, 6:12, 9:28, 12:51
If we had an accurate travelogue of Jesus’ three year ministry with his disciples it would probably look quite aimless on the surface. Jesus went to and fro across the Sea of Galilee, traveled from Jerusalem to Galilee using multiple routes and at various times, and frequently went to places where there was no one at all.
This might not be what we expect from one who was laser focused on saving the world, and yet, this is how Jesus operated. Even here in John, Jesus goes out to a secluded and difficult to access place to spend time with his disciples away from the people before he would return to Jerusalem for the final time during passover. The people still find him there because his popularity has soared.
We want to live lives of purpose. But with that goal it’s essential that we follow Jesus’ example of taking purposeful time away. Not even Jesus was “on” all the time. This is also important: Jesus’ attempts to get away were almost always interrupted. Our intentional rest times will have to endure interruptions as well. Jesus handled these with grace. How will you?