I lied in my last post. I’m taking eighteen credits this year. I’m a sucker for overwhelming myself; I thrive on stress. Plus I couldn’t resist piling on one more course to fulfill a creative writing minor. My sixth class is a special topics in writing course about trauma memoir. This means I get to relive the most traumatic moments of my life in narrative form and then share them with the class. Considering that writers tend to be a depressed lot, this should be fun.
Unrelated, but during the lent season I am trying to reread the gospels all the way through. I’ve noticed that I tend to ignore the Gospel of John in favor of his synoptic brothers Matthew, Mark and Luke, so I started with John this time and plan to work my way backward. Discovery: it’s by far the most beautiful, theologically-certain of the gospels. (Am I allowed to say that?) No “secret Jesus” here. We get the John 3:16 money-verse, tons of light/dark imagery and some great parables. This one from John 10 particularly stuck with me after I read it:
Therefore Jesus said again, “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. 8All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. 9I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.[a] He will come in and go out, and find pasture. 10The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
11“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12The hired hand is not the shepherd who owns the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. 13The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.
14“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— 15just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. 17The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. 18No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”
19At these words the Jews were again divided. 20Many of them said, “He is demon-possessed and raving mad. Why listen to him?”
21But others said, “These are not the sayings of a man possessed by a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?”
–John 10:7-21 (NIV)
Jesus meant that there should be one flock and one shepherd. So why are we Christians continually divided amongst each other? Also how great is it that Jesus came so that we may have life and have it to the full (or have it “abundantly” in some translations).