John chapter 10 verses 1 and 2 introduce us to three characters that Jesus goes on to teach about in verses 1 to 30: the sheep, the thief and the shepherd. We are the sheep, and as we ask the big questions in life, will we listen to and follow a thief or the good shepherd?
The alternative to listening to the good shepherd (10:3) is to listen to thieves (10:1) who are out to destroy us (10:10)! The leaders in chapter 9 show us what this can look like - trying to turn the healed man away from Jesus (9:28-29) and throwing him out of the synagogue (9:34). Do we see the alternatives to Jesus in these terms? Our non-Christian friends are risking destruction because they are following thieves. I wonder if we actually believe this. Because if it's true, then the most loving thing we can do is to warn them.
Sheep don't strike me as the brightest of creatures but the good news is that becoming one of Jesus' sheep does not mean we need to take on a sheep like brain! Chapter 10 verse 25 tells us that the miracles Jesus does are signposts to who he is. This has helped me to understand what we should be doing in evangelism: encouraging our non-Christian friends to examine the evidence and being ready to explain that evidence to them.
But we also need to pray for them to have their eyes opened. Ultimately people become part of Jesus' flock because he gives them eternal life (v28-29). We see this illustrated in the healing of the blind man in chapter 9. He is not just healed physically but also spiritually (9:35-41).
The good shepherd
Being one of Jesus' sheep means submitting our lives to him. Can we trust him with our lives? Yes we can! Jesus loves us so much that he gave his life for us, of his own free will (v11, 15, 17, 18). If he did that, he must have our best interests at heart. He came so that we may have life and have it abundantly (v10). Have we stopped battling with sin? Start that battle again because Jesus knows what's best for our lives. Are we still as enthusiastic about listening to the good shepherd as we used to be? True life is listening to Jesus and following him.