Knowing and Following Jesus

John 10.27

Just as Jesus affirms that he and the Father are one ((John 10.30), so he declares that he knows his sheep and they follow him. What a wonderful relationship Jesus has with his Father! They are totally one in what they do and what they are. Jesus is stressing that he lives and works in complete harmony with his Father, having a perfect relationship with the Father.
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John 10.30 has become a key verse which is much debated among Indian Christians. It has been a major theological debate among Indian theologians (e.g. Brahmabandhab Upadhyaya) who grapple with the Hindu belief that ‘all is Brahman’, nothing has any real existence in itself. But there is a reality in Jesus and in his relationship with the Father, as also in us as his creation. True reality is therefore to be found in our relationships with Jesus and the Father.
So the glorious relationship of the Father with the Son is now to be enjoyed by us.
Jesus knows us. The Jewish understanding of know/knowledge contains the depth of a deeply personal relationship. It is even used of a man knowing his wife in that most intimate relationship of the totality of our being. Of course Jesus’ relationship with us is not sexual, but we now enjoy a lovely relationship with him in all that we are and do. What an amazing privilege to be called to love and be loved by Jesus himself in all his beauty and glory!
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“They follow me”. When we went to Indonesia as missionaries, we were fascinated to hear people constantly referring to Christians as ‘followers of Jesus’. We began to ask ourselves what it really means to be Jesus’ ‘sheep’ and to follow him. We soon discovered that ‘follow’ has three basic meanings.
a) We follow Jesus as our Lord and master. We are called to serve him with all that we have. Although Jesus says that he accepts us as his friends, the New Testament frequently refers to Christians as slaves of the Lord. So, for example, Paul often introduces himself as “I, Paul, a slave of Jesus Christ” – our translations some times soften this by translating the word for ‘slave’ as just ‘servant’, but the Greek ‘Doulos’ clearly means ‘slave’. Our lives belong totally to the Lord. To follow Jesus means that we are called to obedience.
b)  We follow Jesus as our perfect example. He is perfect in every way and totally holy. Our calling as his followers is to become increasingly holy like him. So Paul declares that “we have the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2.16) – we think like Jesus, we share his ambitions in our lives, we have the same loving relationships, we pray like him, our thoughts and actions are pure and holy like his were. And finally in glory in the presence of the Father we shall be perfectly like him – what a day that will be! Meanwhile we are to grow increasingly like him.
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c) We follow Jesus with confident faith in a trusting relationship. The sheep know the voice of the shepherd and trust his leading implicitly. And the shepherd knows and loves his sheep so much that he is even willing to lay down his life for their salvation. I still remember watching my wife’s brother-in-law who was a New Zealand farmer with some 1,200 sheep. To me as an ignorant townsman his sheep all looked the same. But he knew them individually, pointing out to me which had had three lambs, which had had a bad leg etc. And the sheep ran away from me in fear, but with William they had complete confidence. There was clearly a lovely relationship between the shepherd and his sheep. What a privilege to have this intimate relationship with Jesus in our world where loneliness is such an issue!
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