At the time that John writes this Gospel, the transition from a Jewish dominated church to a Gentile one is well underway.
Debates had erupted as early as Paul’s ministry as to how this was going to work.
We can rationalize this as cultural in nature, and there is truth in this (especially when language is a barrier), but still we struggle to reach across those barriers to embrace each other as brothers and sisters.
There are also economic barriers, separating us from one another—this is often expressed in terms of assumed dress codes.
Most of our churches are racially/ethnically segregated.Then there’s all the women who seem to be following him.Besides that there are the lepers and sick and the injured who look to him for help.It is a common metaphor for Christian ministry, but we might want to be careful in our use of this shepherd/sheep imagery.As Lillian Daniel reminded us in her message at the 2015 Festival of Faith (a gathering of Michigan Disciples and United Church of Christ folk), God is the shepherd, and we are all sheep.If you listen to liberals, it’s the conservatives who simply don’t get it.In other words, it’s my job to determine whether you fit my criteria of what it means to be a good Christian.Laying down his life is not forced upon him, but is a decision that he has made of his own accord, again with the intention of taking it up again.This reference will lend itself to a reflection on the It is the message of verse 16 that stands out to me, where Jesus speaks of that other flock that he intends to bring into the sheepfold. Perhaps the reason why this verse grabs my interest is that it seems to resonate with my interests and involvement in interfaith and ecumenical ventures.Time and again Jesus welcomed into his fold those whom his culture deemed unclean.Now it’s true that sometimes Jesus showed more exclusive side.