By John Yieh
A Reading from the Gospel John 10:19-30
19 Again the Jews were divided because of these words. 20 Many of them were saying, “He has a demon and is out of his mind. Why listen to him?” 21 Others were saying, “These are not the words of one who has a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?”
22 At that time the festival of the Dedication took place in Jerusalem. It was winter, 23 and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the portico of Solomon. 24 So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.” 25 Jesus answered, “I have told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name testify to me; 26 but you do not believe, because you do not belong to my sheep. 27 My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 What my Father has given me is greater than all else, and no one can snatch it out of the Father’s hand. 30 The Father and I are one.”
We live in the age of information explosion, inundated by announcements and advertisements on billboards, TV, and smartphones. Much information that floods our senses is, however, exaggerated, distorted, and speed-fed to us for marketing purposes and political influences. It is difficult to tell facts from fakes. Words do not always mean the same as their common definitions, and messages are often manipulated. As a result, we cannot be too naïve but must think critically about information from strangers.
When Jesus announced that he was the Good Shepherd who would call his sheep to follow him and die to give them eternal life, the Jews were divided in their opinions. Jesus’ words seemed too good to be true, so even some of his compatriots could not believe him. Their reason for disbelief, however, was not based on a critical analysis of his words to test whether they were truthful, but on a prejudice against Jesus, calling him crazy. Did they have a problem with the messenger or the message?
To his skeptical opponents Jesus responded in two ways. First, if they could not believe his words of promise, he challenged them to at least consider his many works of mercy which served as ample evidence and strong testimony to him. Jesus’ healing of the blind was a case in point that proved his divine power. Second, he promised to protect his followers so that no one can snatch them away from him. He could do so because he was in communion with God. The Father and the Son are one, he emphasized.
We need to carefully discern the meaning of words from strangers, but we can trust in the gracious words of Jesus Christ the Son of God. We can always bring our joy, sorrow, hope, and concerns to our Lord and savior in thoughts or prayers to find comfort and strength in the time of need, because he has done so for many believers in the past and has promised to safeguard us from the clutch and snatch of evil.
The Rev. John Yueh Han Yieh, Ph.D., is professor in New Testament at Virginia Theological Seminary and a New Testament editor for the Bible Society in Taiwan. Dr. Yieh enjoys his teaching ministry at VTS and is a frequent preacher and speaker in the U.S. and Asia.
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Daily Devotional Cycle of Prayer
Today we pray for:
Holy Comforter Episcopal Church, Tallahassee, Fla.
The Diocese of Katanga – Province de L’Eglise Anglicane Du Congo