He calls his sheep and his sheep follow him because they know his voice.
How do we recognise the call of Jesus as the call of God and decide to follow him? What convinces us of the truth of his claims?
Where do we find and locate authority in a world where authority is so mis-trusted
At the centre of our faith in the revealed character and will of God lies Jesus the person who revealed that will to the world.
In the parable today Jesus describes himself as the gateway to God. His way is the path we must walk to participate in the life of God.
Jesus as a gate or a door is not half as romantic as “Jesus the good shepherd” or “Jesus the light of the world” or “Jesus the bread of life” and so imagining Jesus as a door has never caught the imagination of Christians in quite the same way as all those other descriptions but if you imagine Jesus as an open door and that door leads out of a dark room or a prison and is the doorway to God and freedom and light then the metaphor can come alive.
We either accept his authority or we don’t. To accept his way and words as authoritative is in classicly Christian language “to accept Jesus as our personal Lord and saviour”. Scary sounding words but when you boil them down they mean, “whose authority do you accept?”
Lots of people, movements and institutions claim and exercise authority in our lives. Parliaments, both European and British, the law, monarchy, teachers, parents, police, but whatever legitimate authority they may have in their rightful sphere, the mark of the Christian is that one authority usurps all of them.
The final claim on our lives comes from God and Jesus as the revealer of the kind of God we give that authority – loving, merciful, faithful and just. All other authorities are contingent.
So if we accept God as revealed in the life death and resurrection of Christ as the final arbiter in our lives hadn’t we better find out exactly what is required of us?
This is no easy task. The plethora of denominations and different understandings of what it means to follow Christ within those denominations makes a confusing picture – not one that can easily be undertaken alone. All those different expressions of Christianity are just providing the framework. The rest is down to us as the body of Christ. We need to meet, to study, to discuss, to argue, to discern and to pray to be guided along the right path.
If we seek the guidance of the Spirit and trust the words of Jesus in the Bible then we will be guided into all truth, and we must do it together.