John 10:22-30 (NRSV)
Verse 22At that time the festival of the Dedication took place in Jerusalem. It was winter, Verse 23and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the portico of Solomon. Verse 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." Verse 25Jesus answered, "I have told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father's name testify to me; Verse 26but you do not believe, because you do not belong to my sheep. Verse 27My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me. Verse 28I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand. Verse 29What my Father has given me is greater than all else, and no one can snatch it out of the Father's hand. Verse 30The Father and I are one."
No one would ever have confused my father with Jesus. Unapologetically saint and sinner, stubborn, irascible, and irreverent all at the same time, his abiding faith was most often delivered in pithy, earthy, one line descriptions which contained more truth than one first realized.
But dad’s voice was like that of a shepherd that kept my life centered. Devoted to his children, he could speak comfort when you needed it the most. He could also tell the truth when you least wanted to hear it. Most of all, he could love you even on your worst day.
The voice of the shepherd in John’s gospel is that kind of voice—that of a shepherd who would even lay down his life for his children. It is the voice of one who knows and understands us intimately, almost as though Jesus is the incarnate expression of a God whom Psalm 139 describes as one who knows and loves us completely.
Creator God, you who have not only made us but who also understand the innermost parts of our beings, continue to speak to us in a way that allows us to trust in your goodness. Teach us to love others as you have loved us. Amen.