Summary: Jesus is our shepherd. We must distinguish his voice from all the other voices we hear in our daily lives and follow Him in faith. No forces other than our own can snatch us out of His good care and keeping.

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I want you to think back for a moment to the time when you were preparing for Confirmation, especially all the hard work and studying that were involved. You probably felt like the little girl who was attending a confirmation service with her mother. She was fascinated as each person who was being confirmed came forward, knelt and had hands placed on his or her forehead. The little girl asked her mother what that meant, and was told that it was a ritual to impress upon them that their call to be a believing brother or sister in Christ comes directly from God. The little girl thought for a moment and then said "Oh...I thought the minister was feeling their heads to see if they had any brains left".

Today's Gospel reading, 2nd reading and Psalm all talk about sheep. Sheep are not the brightest animals in the world. They seek the security of the flock and blindly follow the lead of the shepherd. When several flocks are grazing together in a field, they are still able to distinguish the voice of their own shepherd and follow his movements, clap, voice, etc.. Sheep need a leader not because they are dumb, but because they know they can't go it alone. They need someone to lead and to guide them.

We are the same way. Jesus is our shepherd. We must distinguish his voice from all the other voices we hear in our daily lives and follow Him in faith. He provides the security of an eternal kingdom, but people often look elsewhere for their spiritual and eternal security. No forces other than our own can snatch us out of His good care and keeping. There is no security in the law, only unbelief. Christianity is not about Christians behaving themselves. It is about hope for those who do not have any-including all of us . All we have in ourselves is doubt and fear-and nothing there is certain.

When someone looks at the truth and refuses to believe it, it is the fault of the one who refuses to believe. At some point we simply must cut through all the uncertainty and ambiguity and believe! There is a sense in which we have to move from the theology about Jesus to the faith of and in Jesus.

Christ came to those of us who were lost sheep. He has spoken to us through the power of His words and deeds. His miracles point out His divine nature and display His power. They show that Christ and God are the same. He has opened our eyes and ears just like he opened the eyes of the blind and the ears of the deaf. Our status as God's sheep comes from outside ourselves, not from within. It comes from our faith in Christ. Our salvation is secure because Christ has secured our salvation through His death and resurrection. No one can take it away from us. No earthly power is stronger than He is, and He will not allow any such power to prevail against us. His power and His deity do the work that is appropriate to that nature to accomplish salvation for His people.

The true sheep of Israel are those whom God regenerates, giving them ears to hear the teachings of Jesus in faith. They in turn recognize Jesus as the Messiah, they follow Him in obedient faith, and they develop a personal relationship with Him. There is no loneliness when we belong to God. There are dynamic, social relationships. In John 10:30, Jesus talks about the power which provides the true sheep with eternal security-the power of God and Christ, the power of one . He is not saying that He and God are the same person. What He is saying is that He and God are united in one mission. They are united in the same work. If we criticize the work of Jesus, we are also criticizing God's plan for the universe.

The purpose of sacrifice which Jesus emphasized was not to please a deity that was angry with us because of our sinful behaviour, but to have the intimate fellowship of a meal with the deity. It is not the sacrifices in the Temple that absolves from sin; it is the sacrificial act that Jesus makes through the surrender of his life that provides both absolution of sin and entrance into God's community. Because of His sacrifice, people will know that He is the authentic shepherd.

Jesus challenges those who would oppose Him to consider the Word and His works. When He refers to the law, he refers to the Old Testament. He has a high regard for the Scriptures-a regard not shared by the world today. Many people today say that the Scriptures are indestructible as long as they agree with them. Vast numbers of people have heard His words, and taken Him at His word, and have discovered that He was and is the gateway into the heart of God. He was, and is, the door to the finest and truest understanding of God's nature and God's character that the world has ever known.

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