Jesus made a surprise announcement during His extended parable describing the Good and the Bad Shepherd in John 10. After identifying the characteristics of a good shepherd and claiming to be The Good Shepherd, He announced that He had other sheep which where not currently in the the sheepfold (v. 16). According verses 1-5, the sheep were already gathered were the Jews who heard His voice and believed in Him. The Jews who rejected Jesus were not His sheep, but that’s not the group that He was referring to (v. 26). He was referring to the non-Jews, or Gentiles, who are “scattered abroad” (11:52). The Greek that came to Jesus after the Triumphal Entry are representatives of this alternate “flock” (12:20-26).
Jesus announced that He would eventually bring these additional sheep into His fold. They would be responsive to His voice and they would all follow Him in unison. Their mutual faith in Christ would bind these two groups together in a new and powerful way. Here are three things we can learn from this union
- Mutual faith in Christ is more important than ethnic barriers. The primary difference between Jews and Gentiles is their ethnic heritage. The Jews all trace their ancestry back to one of the 12 tribes of Israel. The Gentiles have a mixed background, including everyone else. This insight is particularly important during a time when people are driven apart by the color of their skin. There can’t be any racism in the church because our shared believe in God’s Son overcomes that kind of difference.
2. Mutual faith in Christ is more important than religious traditions. The Jews and Gentiles lived very different lives in Jesus’ day. They dressed differently, ate differently, worshipped differently, and spend their lives pursuing different goals. In order to come together, these groups must put fidelity to Jesus Christ and His Written Word above their own desires, preferences, and traditions.
3. Mutual faith in Christ is more important than the passage of time. Christ’s surprised announcement ushered in a new age where Jews and Gentiles could worship God together. Speaking of the power of the gospel message, Paul wrote “It is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile” (Romans 1:16b, NASB). This new age allows all true believers to become a part of the universal Church.
As sheep following the Good Shepherd, it’s important to remember that we aren’t included (or excluded) because of our ethnic background, or religious performance, or even by our time in history. We are included in God’s flock, along with other undeserving believers, because of God’s great mercy and love.