“And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.” John 10:16-17
When previously speaking of the sheepfold, the door, and false shepherds, Jesus has been speaking about the fold of Judaism. He revealed that He will lead many out of the fold of Judaism into His fold. Like the blind man who was excommunicated from the temple and embraced by Jesus as one of His own, Jesus would lead many of His own people to leave the law and find the new covenant in Him as Messiah.
Not even His disciples could imagine a heart so vast that Jesus might reach outside the Jewish race to claim a new people. Jesus’ words in today’s scripture are the first hints of the church, of Gentiles coming to faith. I’m so glad Jesus’ view was broader than the house of Israel, aren’t you? I can picture the disciples who heard these words, heads cocked to the side, trying to figure out what He is talking about.
Paul received a similar message from God in Acts 18. He had just preached to the Jews at Corinth. They were unreceptive to say the least. Most likely, he was discouraged and perceived that he hit a brick wall in his ministry there. Should he just leave? The Lord appeared to him in a vision and said, “Do not be afraid. I have many people in this city.” I can just imagine Paul setting out to find the sheep who belonged to Jesus. His eyes would be opened to the truth of the many Gentiles who would soon come to faith, or who already had believed.
Exclusivity is painful. Great offers are usually limited. “The 10th caller will receive free tickets to the show.” “This offer only good to the first 100 people who register.” Etc. Most of us live just outside the boundary lines of such good news and have to watch while so many flourish around us. We strain to be part of the group who received the offer. The Jews probably couldn’t conceive that the offer Jesus made for relationship, for salvation, for saving faith – would be for anyone other than themselves. The great news for most of us is that Jesus made His offer inclusive to ‘any’ who would believe.
I am not excluded today from any of the promises He makes. I am not excluded by my past sins and failures. I am not excluded by association to an unbelieving set of ancestors. I am not excluded by race. I am an individual in God’s eyes who is given the privilege of making the most critical decision of my life, on my own, as the wind of the Spirit blows over my life and enables me to believe. “What will I do with Jesus?” At the point of active and passionate belief, exclusivity is non-existant.
Anything you said, anything you promised, is for me today. Help me embrace what I have discounted, thinking it was ‘too good to be true’ for me. Amen