by Christopher Harbin

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Other Sheep (24 of 52)
Series: Discipleship Part Two
Christopher B. Harbin
John 10:7-18

Word pictures help us communicate. They help us visualize concepts within the framework of our day to day experiences. They can also be confusing, because the correlation between the word pictures we use and the realities they point to suffer limitations. Figures of speech attempt to help us bridge gaps in communication, but they are never one hundred percent accurate. At some point, the pictures break down, because the new information we are trying to convey is simply not the same as the pictures we use to help others navigate to a new place of understanding.

Jesus used lots of word pictures. The first twelve chapters of John are mainly devoted to twelve specific word pictures used of and by Jesus. In chapter one, Jesus is the Word. In chapter four, Jesus is Living Water. In chapter six, Jesus is the Bread of Life. In chapter ten, Jesus is the Good Shepherd and the door to the sheepfold. If pressed too far, each of these images for understanding Jesus break down. None of them is sufficient in itself. That is the reason that Jesus gave us more than one image in the first place. They are images designed to communicate something important in regard to Jesus' identity and character, but they are all limited word pictures. That is just the way language works.

In the first part of the chapter, Jesus painted the image of the shepherd entering the sheepfold through the door, calling out his sheep to follow him. He then determined that he needed to further explain the image. He had contrasted the shepherd entering the sheepfold to the thief who climbs in elsewhere to steal from the flock. He tried to correlate his own words and teaching with the voice of God throughout the history of dealing with Israel, but his listeners could not quite follow him.

Jesus switched images, though at first only a little. He proclaimed himself the door for the sheep, the way by which they ...

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