John 10:1-10 (NRSV)
Chapter 10"Very truly, I tell you, anyone who does not enter the sheepfold by the gate but climbs in by another way is a thief and a bandit. Verse 2The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. Verse 3The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. Verse 4When he has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. Verse 5They will not follow a stranger, but they will run from him because they do not know the voice of strangers." Verse 6Jesus used this figure of speech with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them. Verse 7So again Jesus said to them, "Very truly, I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. Verse 8All who came before me are thieves and bandits; but the sheep did not listen to them. Verse 9I am the gate. Whoever enters by me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. Verse 10The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly, proclaims Jesus. Jesus is not naïve about people or the thieving ways of the world and the many voices that we people listen to. But the contrast Jesus proclaims is the difference between that which gives life and that which takes life away. Jesus leads us in doing the opposite of what a thief does. He spoke of sharing food and water, loving one’s neighbor, welcoming strangers, caring for the sick, the poor, and the outcasts of the world, being stewards of the earth—all as integral to spiritual life. In the crazy paradox of God’s ways, the abundant life we seek comes by losing our own lives in service for others. In following the shepherd’s voice the kingdom of God is already here, God with us and God in us, in this life.
God the giver of life, help us to listen to your voice calling to us to receive the abundant life you have to give us. Lead us in serving you by serving our neighbors throughout the world. Amen.