John 10:1 “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. 2 The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. 5 They will not follow a stranger, but they will run from him because they do not know the voice of strangers.” 6 Jesus used this figure of speech with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them. 7 So again Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. 8 All who came before me are thieves and bandits; but the sheep did not listen to them. 9 I am the gate. Whoever enters by me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.
In the preceding chapter Jesus healed a man on the Sabbath, which got him in trouble with the religious authorities – the Pharisees. In their eyes healing constituted work, which violated the 3rd commandment to keep the Sabbath as a day of rest. They weren’t sure who Jesus was, but the formerly blind man recognized Jesus as the Messiah and worshipped him. In a sense, the blind man could see while the Pharisees were blind in their seeing. In this chapter we move from sight to hearing.
Jesus gives an image of imposters calling the people to follow them. They are described as thieves and bandits while Jesus is the shepherd of the sheep. The sheep hear Jesus’ voice and follow him rather than the thief, who comes to “steal and kill and destroy”.
What comes to mind for me as I reflect on this passage are the multitude of voices that come at me every day. Many of those voices are not for my good. They are external voices telling me to get going, look better, accomplish more, buy more stuff. These voices are relentless, but nowhere near as relentless as the internal voices. I can be my own worst critic. Too often I see all my weaknesses and shortcomings before I see what’s good in me. Then there’s the voice of worry and anxiety telling me I’m getting behind. What am I forgetting? How can I rest when there’s so much left to do?
Today is Friday, which means it’s my Sabbath day. I won’t be working today. I won’t be taking phone calls or returning emails or holding meetings. I’ll be doing my best… to rest. To resist the voices that demand more from me. And I’ll ask the Lord for grace to trust that God’s ways are better than my ways. That I don’t have to perform or produce or satisfy anyone’s expectations apart from those of God. Who calls me to rest today and remember that any fruitfulness my life produces comes as a result of grace.
Lord, today I entrust myself to you. Help me to resist the voices that call me to produce, that I may rest in you. Amen.