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Jesus uses the metaphor of the shepherd to explain his role in the world. Jesus really loves his metaphors.
He says that people who are going to a farm must go in through the front gate. If they try to sneak in another way, they're just thieves. (Or possibly Santa Claus. Just a thought.)
The shepherd also goes through the front gate to tend to his sheep on the farm. Inside, the sheep know him and follow the sound of his voice. Sheep are natural followers.
The Gospel explains that Jesus is using figurative language to try to describe himself, but the people still don't understand what he means. What else is new?
So, Jesus tries again. And speaks very, very slowly.
Jesus = the shepherd. He leads his flock and protects his sheep. He'll even die for them. That's one hardcore shepherd.
If he were just some hired sheepherder, making minimum wage out in the pasture, he wouldn't care less about the sheep. If he saw a wolf coming, he'd just step aside and let the wolf gobble them up. Poor sheep.
The good shepherd is different, though. He'll fight that wolf if he has to. He'll even get mauled or killed just to protect the sheep from harm. Like we said, hardcore.
Jesus tells them again that he's going die. If this seems like a bummer, don't worry. No one's going to force death on him. He's going to let himself die. All of this is God's will. Harsh, God, harsh.
As usual, the people aren't sure what to make of Jesus. Is he insane? Is he holy? Only his God knows for sure.
Who You Calling a Sheep?
Now we move ahead. It's wintertime in Jerusalem and people are celebrating Hanukkah.
Jesus is walking in the temple when some of the people there corner him. They tell him to stop toying with them and just tell him if he is the Messiah. Haven't they been listening?
Jesus has been over this before. He's told these guys who he is and they don't believe him. It's probably because they don't belong to his flock of sheep. Take that, non-sheep.
Again, the people are ticked. They pick up some rocks and try to stone him again. This is becoming kind of a recurring thing for Jesus.
What, he asks them, are you going to stone me for this time? Is it the miracles? My divine teachings? Don't you like my tunic?
None of the above. The people want to stone him because he's a huge blasphemer. How dare he pretend to be God? The nerve!
They try to get him arrested yet again. But Jesus, ever the escape artist, manages to sneak away unharmed.
Jesus has a moment of inspiration. He decides to leave Jerusalem and the angry mobs and head east to Jordan.