This reference will lend itself to a reflection on the It is the message of verse 16 that stands out to me, where Jesus speaks of that other flock that he intends to bring into the sheepfold. Perhaps the reason why this verse grabs my interest is that it seems to resonate with my interests and involvement in interfaith and ecumenical ventures.
Who are the sheep in the fold, and who are those on the outside?
As Lillian Daniel reminded us in her message at the 2015 Festival of Faith (a gathering of Michigan Disciples and United Church of Christ folk), God is the shepherd, and we are all sheep.We get in trouble when we begin to think of ourselves as shepherds (whether clergy or lay leaders), thereby ending up as the hired hand.The scholastic method of doing theology that dominated the medieval western Catholic Church assumed this to be true.You lay out your proposition, then array the authorities pro and con, and formulate a conclusion based on those authorities. The rabbis would quote the experts so as to bolster their argument. He didn’t quote Barth and Calvin, Wesley and Pope Francis.The clean folks don’t know who Jesus is, but the unclean man does. In fact, why does a man who shouldn’t even be in the synagogue recognize Jesus for who he is? We who are clergy can get nervous about job security and pensions.
The man himself, being unclean, shouldn’t be in a sacred space. We live in an age that questions most forms of authority. Governments come and go and seem to focus more on keeping power than touching lives. Yes, we (and our families) are just like everybody else. But Jesus comes and tears down the walls and erases the lines. Are we ready to follow this teacher on a journey that in Mark leads to a cross?In this particular story Jesus goes down to Capernaum, on the Sea of Galilee, and since it’s the Sabbath he goes in with his disciples to share in the synagogue service.It would appear that Jesus didn’t just sit down and listen to the local preacher. It probably doesn’t matter, because that’s not the point. I am an ordained minister, with the requisite theological degrees and training in homiletics.Placher goes to say that “Evil spirits never have any problem knowing who Jesus is; ‘the demons believe—and shudder” (Jas. )” (Mark (Belief: A Theological Commentary on the Bible), Jesus answers by telling the spirit to be silent. When we read this passage, we do so in light of other shepherding images as well—most especially the words of Psalm 23 (the Psalm for the day): “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want . Since Jesus is seen in Christian tradition as the Son of David, the one who takes up the Messianic throne, the shepherding image has taken an important place in Christian life.