It’s never been “popular” to confront our very prideful and “autonomous” societies with the exclusive teaching that the only way to God the Father is through Jesus Christ. In fact, most societies and cultures have reacted rather badly to this message from the Christian Faith.
And yet the scriptures and the teaching of the Church are unavoidable; Jesus Christ is the only “door” to eternal life and relationship with God. Even writing this, I can “feel” the push back even in my own soul to this message unexplained and faithfully lived out. So what does this message really mean? And what is the confrontation with this message supposed to identify and heal in my own life?
Look at our lesson today in John 10:1-9:
The Lord said to the Jews who had come to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber; but he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the gatekeeper opens; the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” This figure Jesus used with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them. So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers; but the sheep did not heed them. I am the door; if any one enters by me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.”
Jesus confronts the reality that the people faced in His day of there being many “saviors” during this time. These “saviors” came in all flavors and sizes: political, philosophical, religious, and even entertainment, and usually a mixture of all of them or some of them together! Isn’t it funny how we humans latch onto “saviors” of different stripes and perspectives?
And each of these “saviors” crashed and burned and failed either through being arrested and killed or being found to be charlatans or their faddish message simply ran out of gas!
Jesus also confronts the failure of even the First Covenant of the Jews had become so misunderstood as to actually hurt these people’s ability to even recognize the Messiah standing right in front of them.
Of course, most of human history is littered with the failed “saviors” of this or that political movement, philosophy, and religion. And each time one of these “saviors” fails, the fallout of despondency and disappointment leads us humans to either pretend it didn’t fail or to start looking for another “system” to “save” us. But the failures of these too small saviors is actually a good thing,
The Faith tells us that Jesus Christ is God in the flesh. He is the Son of God and co-eternal and co-powerful with the Father and the Spirit in the Mystery of the Holy Trinity. And the Faith insists we deal with the implications of this message of the Uncreated stepping into creation. And one of those inescapable consequences is the exclusivity of the ministry of Jesus as The Shepherd for all of humanity. Another consequence is the necessary failure of lesser shepherds to actually fulfill our desire for a “perfect world.” So, when our current political and societal madness fails, we have to be prepared to offer a witness of the True Shepherd to our disillusioned refugees hurting from the failure of their saviors of “equity” or “capitalism” or “democracy” or “benevolent dictatorship” or any other societal fad popular today.
You see, the exclusivity of the ministry of Jesus Christ to every human heals a deep wound all of us struggle with and possess. We are enslaved to self-centeredness that leads to a fear of death because we foolishly think all that matters is what we can see or what makes “me” comfortable” or “happy.” The choices that flow from a life gripped by this self-centeredness have so many caustic results in a life that it’s obvious we each need healing from this terrible spiritual disease! So Jesus says He is the True Shepherd exclusively for every human. Period.
Today, where are you still gripped by a temptation to ignore the exclusive message of Jesus Christ? Where is your own selfishness still tripping up your life? The continual confrontation of Jesus as the only Savior is meant to make you ask hard questions of your own soul so that you can be Orthodox on Purpose!
P.S. Dear Lord, You are the only and final Savior of the world. And yet, I still struggle with the implications of that powerful truth. And most of the time my struggle has everything to do with wanting You to be merely medicine for me to make me happy. But Your salvation is so much more than that. I need to be transformed by Your grace. I need to become more like You in every way. And that work is going to start when I allow You to be Lord in every part of my life! Please help me embrace You in every way! Amen.