Today's verses are John 10:16-18: "And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father." My child, when I said these words I was speaking only to Jews. At this point, they could not grasp how profound these words actually are. But they are. I told them there would be other sheep who in my sheepfold who would not be Jewish. "Other sheep" here is a reference to Gentiles. My message of forgiving grace would be for other sheep throughout the entire world. The Jews should have known they were to be a light to the Gentiles. My prophet Isaiah had explicitly said so (Is. 56:8). But they had missed it. Moreover, there would be one worldwide flock with one shepherd guiding them everyone--me! This group of people would be called my "Church". What a vision! Jew and Gentile united in one, Holy-Spirit led, Jesus-honoring community!
My Father in heaven loves me deeply for this one reason: my willingness to leave the splendor of heaven and enter the squalor of this world to choose to lay down my life for his sheep. It was my choice. I obeyed my Father's will. When I willingly did so, my Father's heart of love danced with delight.
But not only did I lay down my life, I took it up again. My divine nature was working in my resurrection. Death cannot defeat my love. My love will always conquer sin and death!
This teaching answers the question: "Who killed Jesus?" Some suggest the Jewish officials did. Some suggest Pontius Pilate and the Roman authorities did. Others say it was you and your sin that nailed me to the cross. In some sense, all these answers are true. But the real answer is this one: I chose to die. I willingly laid down my life for my sheep. It was completely my choice. All authority in heaven and earth had been granted to me. Therefore, by my authority I chose to die. And by my authority, I was raised from the dead.
This was my Father's will for my life. I gladly and willingly was obedient to his will.
My child, go into all the world and make disciples for my glory. Reach my sheep who have not yet heard. Believe I'm in control of everything that happens in this universe and your personal life, both the good and the bad. I have authority over it all. I'm using it for your good and my glory. Nothing catches me by surprise, especially in the lives of my sheep.
I laid down my life for you. What else can I do to prove my love for you? You can prove your love for me by obeying what I ask you to do, as I did with my Father in heaven. You are never more like me than when you obey my will for your life!
You can trust me today.