SUNDAY, APRIL 29, 2012.
THE OTHER SHEEP
I have other sheep too, that are not in this sheepfold. I must bring them also. They will listen to my voice, and there will be one flock with one shepherd’. Jn. 10v16.
THE mission of Jesus is both to the Jews and Gentiles alike. He is not limited or restricted by fences built by men. That is why He died on the cross of Calvary for all mankind so that erring people may be reconciled back to God. In Ezekiel chapter 34v1-10, God sent specifically Prophet Ezekiel to the house of Israel to denounce the shepherds and leaders of His people. Why? They were preying on the sheep (people of Israel) and were not tendering them. God determined to rescue them from the devouring shepherds… and this is what the Sovereign Lord says: “I now consider these shepherds my enemies and I will hold them responsible for what has happened to my flock. I will take away their right to feed the flock, and I will stop them from feeding themselves. I will rescue my flock from their mouths; the sheep will no longer be their prey’. Ezek. 34v10.
It was to the house of Israel He sent Prophet Ezekiel to admonish the shepherds and not to other nations. When Jesus emerged, as the good shepherd, He said He had other sheep. The ‘other sheep’ were non-Jews. Jesus came to save Gentiles as well as Jews.
Ordinarily to the average Jew, the Gentiles, sinners, were considered as ‘things’. In fact, Gentiles, according to them, on the last day were to be used as fuel for the hellfire. It means, therefore, if Jews were allowed to guard the doors of heaven, the Gentiles will never smell of it. Such was their hatred and contempt for Gentiles, sinners.
However, Jesus came to reconcile men to God and to give them hope. And the Bible says: ‘As Jesus was walking along, He saw a man named Matthew sitting at his tax collector’s booth. Follow me and be my disciple, Jesus said to him. So Matthew got up and followed Him. Later Matthew invited Jesus and His disciples to his home as dinner guests, along with many tax collectors and other disreputable sinners. But when the Pharisees saw this, they asked His disciples, why does your teacher eat with such scum? When Jesus heard this, He said, Healthy people don’t need a doctor – sick people do. Then He added, now go and learn the meaning of this Scripture: I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices. For I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.’ Mtt.9v9-13. Jesus truly understood the plight of outcasts, sinners, republicans; disreputable men and so recognised them as ‘the other sheep’.
No doubt the other sheep are scattered all over the world as pointed out by John. 11v52. ‘And not only for that nation, but to bring together and unite all the children of God scattered around the world.’ The devil will be rejoicing if they remain scattered so that on the last day he alone will not suffer. Our God is forever merciful, He declares: “as surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, O house of Israel’ Ezek. 33v11. Acts 3v19: ‘Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord…’ 1 Timothy 2:4: ‘who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth…’ Yes call our God, a God of second chance’.
It is but unfortunate that even today the so-called Gentiles, sinners for whom the Lord is desirous to give hope distance themselves from the true Shepherd, the Guardian of their souls. The implication is that doom, destruction awaits them if they fail to turn to the Good Shepherd, who laid down His life for them.
When one distances himself from the Lord, what does he stand to gain? The Bible tells us: ‘evil association ruins good morals’. ICor.15v33. The company you keep is it likely to make you return as the other sheep so that there will be one sheepfold under one shepherd? There are persons, who are determined to miss heaven, and the way they conduct themselves speak volumes of their actions. As baptised, confirmed member of Christ body, flee from such persons — before it is too late.
If the trumpet should sound now are we likely to make heaven? Jesus day by day gives us an opportunity to turn in as the other sheep; if we delay we are likely to be blamed. God is waiting; God is watching to have all into one sheepfold.
Rev. 3v20 gives us hope: ‘Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hears my voice, and opens the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me’. The decision is now, not tomorrow, for tomorrow may be too late.Ven. Ernest Onuoha Rector, Ibru International Ecumenical Centre, Agbarha-Otor, Delta State.