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Leading

As we’ve been studying John together, you may have noticed that the book doesn’t record any of the famous parables of Jesus. It’s true that, although Jesus uses analogies in John, His most famous stories—such as the story of the prodigal son—are excluded.

 

Why is that?

 

I’d like to suggest a reason. In John, Jesus doesn’t illustrate His teachings in stories, but in the changed lives of real people. Consider John 5 where Jesus makes His teaching about the resurrection concrete by raising up a man who’s been laying on the ground for decades.

 

Chapters 9 and 10 also record a miracle-teaching combination. Let’s dig into it a little bit and see the teaching of Jesus come alive.

 

John 9 is about Jesus healing a man born blind. Jesus makes mud, covers the man’s eyes with it and sends him away to wash. Upon washing, the man is healed — however, Jesus has left so the man is not able to see who healed him. Nevertheless, he testifies of Jesus and is kicked out of the synagogue for it. Finally, he gets to see Jesus.

 

With this experience in mind, consider the teaching of Jesus that follows:

 

“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. Yet they will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” (John 10:1-5, NKJV)

 

Here Jesus is addressing the Pharisees, the religious leaders who had kicked the blind man out of the religious community for talking about how Jesus had healed him. Jesus seems to consider them thieves and robbers — illegitimate religious leaders. But there is a true shepherd in the analogy, which Jesus identifies as Himself (Jn 10:14). People follow Him by following His voice. This echoes the blind man’s experience; when he met Jesus he couldn’t see Him, instead he had to trust His voice and obey Him.

 

And here’s where things get fascinating.

 

From a human perspective, the result of following Jesus in John 9 was that the blind man was “cast out” of the synagogue (Jn 9:35). But in this teaching, Jesus explains that He “brings out” those who follow Him (Jn 10: 4). Catch this: in the original Greek that John was written in, “cast out” and “brings out” is the same word.

 

That word is ἐκβάλλω (ekballō). Think “ek” as in “exit” and “ballo” as in “ballistic”, thus translated “throw out”, “cast out”, or “lead out”.

 

Jesus is retelling the story of the blind man’s experience, but from a greater perspective. He’s explaining that although it seems the man was thrown out of his faith community, that Jesus was actually the one leading him all along.

 

This must have radically changed the man’s perception. No longer was he an outcast; he’s rather an adventurer on the mission of following Jesus.

 

Have you ever felt negative pressure or been excluded because of your desire to faithfully follow Jesus? Remember the blind man’s experience. As long as you’re a follower of Jesus, you’re never an outcast. Rather, you’re on the most thrilling adventure possible. Jesus is leading you!

 

And like the blind man, our journey climaxes in getting to see the face of Jesus.

 

Let this ancient teaching remain alive by sharing some of your personal experiences of following Jesus in the comments below.

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