21 days of prayer and fasting - John 10
How can we be free? Jesus came to give us life in all abundance (verse 10). So He brings us freedom but … only if we follow Him. It is a paradox - it seems the opposite of common sense!
Jesus’ hearers would have been very familiar with flocks of sheep, an everyday sight. They would also have been very familiar with the idea of God as shepherd and the people of God as a flock, e.g. Genesis 48:15 and Ezekiel 34:11-31. We are accustomed in England to shepherds who herd the sheep from behind, chasing them with dogs or nowadays on a quad bike. But in the Middle East then and now, a shepherd would go out in front and the sheep would follow. It is a striking picture of the Lord leading us (see Hebrews 6:20).
The Church of England liturgy includes a prayer based on a prayer of St Augustine:
the light of the minds that know you,
the joy of the hearts that love you,
and the strength of the wills that serve you:
grant us so to know you
that we may truly love you,
so to love you that we may truly serve you,
whose service is perfect freedom;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
The phrase “whose service is perfect freedom” challenges human wisdom. It seems impossible that following and obeying someone else would make us free. But the prayer also points to why we serve or follow Jesus - if we know Him as He is we will love Him and if we love Him we will want to follow and serve Him!
Jesus himself demonstrates how freedom comes. He was so completely taken up in obeying (following) Father that he could say “I and the Father are one.” His obedience to Father’s will is not a cold, calculated decision to follow instructions: it is deeply relational. There is such a close, loving connection between Father and Son that it is unthinkable that Jesus, living as a man on earth, should do anything other than fall in line with what he sees the Father doing (see John 5:19-20).
To finite, human minds, steeped in the Law of Moses and the clear emphasis of the Old Testament that there is only ONE true God, it seemed impossible that Jesus could be God. To say “I and the Father are one” was blasphemy … unless it was really true!