by miriam berg
Chapter X

(John 10:1-18)
The argument in the preceding chapter continues with a notable discourse from Jesus on the sheep and the shepherd, in which he claims, I am the door, and I am the good shepherd. Now this imagery is consistent with the evolving and continued view of the Church, that all men are sheep, and to be herded as such, and that only by going through Jesus (as the door) can any person hope to find life; and this imagery may indeed have originated with Jesus, as may be inferred from the following passage in the Synoptics:
He had compassion on them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd. (Mark 6:34; Matt. 9:36; quoted from Num. 27:17; Ezek. 34:5)
and this passage:
For it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered abroad. (Mark 14:27; Matt. 26:31; quoted from Zech. 13:7)
But this concept contrasts starkly with the direct teaching about personal conduct found in the Sermon on the Mount: Enter into your closet, and pray in secret; let no one know your alms-giving; let your righteousness exceed that of the formalists of the law; give unto any person that asks of you; seek to be reconciled to your "brother", whenever you think that he has something against you; and condemn not, so that you will not be condemned. In all of these exhortations Jesus makes absolutely no reference to himself in any way. He never in all the Synoptics says, Do this or that, because I command it, but rather, because your Father God will reward you. He never once in all the Synoptics says, You must believe on me in order to find life, but he enjoins his followers to take up their own cross, and bear it. He does at one point express a wish to be like a mother hen, gathering her brood together, in which he includes all the people in Jerusalem (Luke 13:34); but he expresses it as a fervent desire which is not going to be realized because of the opposition building up to kill him, not as a statement of divinity.

(John 10:19-42)
Jesus goes on arguing with "the Jews", claiming God as his father (which still any person might legitimately do), and reaching the ultimate by saying, "I and the Father are one". These verses also contain Jesus' rejection of those "Jews": "ye are not of my fold." This is the first unmistakable intimation we have of the narrow viewpoint which John ascribes to Jesus, which is contradicted by the universalist view in Matthew: Doesn't God send his rain and sun on both the just and the unjust, and ought not we therefore to do likewise, loving friends and enemies alike? Can the same man have said, God's love is universal; and also, I myself am God, but some of you are not of my fold? Anyhow, the Jews threaten to stone him then and there, and again we see the petulant whimperer: "For which of my good works do you stone me?" It is appalling to see how this caricature of Jesus: haughty, petulant, and proclaiming himself as bread, wine, water, door, shepherd, Son of God, and God himself, written by an unknown person in the late first century or early second century, being nothing more nor less than that person's opinion, contrasting so sharply with the self-assured, compassionate, forthright, direct, irresistible, warm, and human teacher portrayed by Matthew, Mark, and Luke, who says to his disciples, "Come into the desert and rest", and to Jairus whose daughter he has waked up, "Give her something to eat" has come to dominate the thinking of self-styled "Christians" who worship Jesus as Messiah or Christ and put their own words into his mouth and rank faith as more important than conduct and love of their own people as more important than love of outsiders, which contrasts further with and is contradicted by the epistle of James: Faith without works is like a body without a spirit (2:20). If I stood up and said, I and the Father are one, I too would be stoned, if stoning were still in vogue as a way of expressing moral outrage, or else I would be regarded as a lunatic. If I performed, or claimed that I performed, miraculous cures (and how can we know whether any such event is miraculous or coincidental, or whether the report of what others have seen or heard is exaggerated or not, or is outright falsehood), people would either look for a trick or would shrug it off as a coincidence. After all, just because I say that I have seen someone rise from the dead doesn't mean that they did; and this holds true even if I honestly believe my own report. But even if people were persuaded that I was one with the Father (or Mother), and that the cures they saw or heard about proved it, we could still never know whether it was the truth or not, because any person could so claim, and any unexplainable event could be coincidence. This is no doubt why Jesus said, If people hear not Moses and the prophets, they will not listen, even if someone rises from the dead (Luke 16:31).

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