Other Sheep. One Flock.

I wonder what the disciples were thinking when Jesus spoke about “other sheep?” (John 10:11-18) Could they imagine who those others were? Would they want others to be included anyways?

The disciples were there during Jesus’ early ministry. They witnessed his acts of power. They saw Jesus literally walk on water. I’m sure they were impressed by what Jesus could do and what he said. As his ministry grew, political and religious authorities pushed back. Jesus was challenged in public and forced to defend what he was doing. The disciples, I’m sure, were forced to do the same. Scripture is clear that the disciples never truly understood what Jesus was doing. They struggled to understand what he taught and they were not clear about who he really was. But when the disciples were confronted by others, I imagine it gave them a false sense of righteousness, a belief that they understood exactly who Jesus was. At the same time, however, the disciples probably were very afraid. They didn’t know if they people they spoke to would welcome them or challenge them. The disciples would not know what other people, outside of Jesus’ inner circle, would do. Other people, then, would be unknown variables. And Jesus just his told his disciples that those unknown variables, the people who make the disciples afraid, will be Jesus’ followers.

It’s sometimes difficult for us to imagine the diversity inherent in the body of Christ. Faith itself is a gift from God and a gift that God gives to us in a very personalized way. God knows each of us and knows what our faith needs. This is amazing and wonderful. But it also means that what our neighbor needs might not be what we need. And that their shape and experience of faith might be different from our own. But regardless of our faith, and whether we identify as Lutheran Christians, Eastern Orthodox Christians, Roman Catholic Christians, Reformed Christians, Non-Denominational Christians, and more – we are all followers of Christ. And we are all invited to keep our eyes, our heart, and our focus on the Jesus who guides us all.

Each week, I write a reflection on one of our scripture readings for the week. This is from Christ Lutheran Church’s Worship Bulletin for Fourth Sunday of Easter, 4/22/2018.