This morning's full reading can be found here.
'I am the Good Shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay my life down for the sheep.'Observation
Jesus speaks these words immediately after explaining that 'bad shepherds' (hired hands) run for the hills at the first sign of trouble. He, the Good Shepherd, (in contrast to the hired hands) knows his own and his own know him.
The contrast draws out the meaning of exactly what this 'knowledge' is.
When you truly know someone you can't just up & leave them at the first hint of trouble. The knowledge that Jesus is talking about here is an intimate familiarity with someone. It involves commitment and belonging. In the Bible 'knowing' is a euphemism for having sex with them:
'Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain,'
Genesis 1:4Jesus's knowledge of us isn't sexual of course but the euphemism helps all the same. Jesus knows (read: is committed to and joined with) his people and us to him - our fates are one and the same. Jesus knows me and I know him. In other words - he has looked into the depths of my soul and into the whites of my eyes and said 'I'm never giving up' and he has said to me in effect: ask me any question you like.
This is wonderful but it doesn't stop there.
Jesus then reveals that the committed knowing, faithfulness and intimacy that he has with those he loves; he also has with the Father:
'...just as the Father knows me and I know the Father.'Amazing.
We are brought into the relationship Jesus has with the Father. The model Jesus uses for how he interacts with and knows his people is the relationship he has with the Father.
For as the Father loves the Son and the Son loves the Father, in that way the Son loves the church
This is what the Father is like, imaged and presented to me in the form of Jesus' sacrificial generous knowing of myself.
The Father loves with a deep, committed, familiar love. He loves without regard for his own well-being. He loves by laying down his life. He loves by not giving up or leaving when trouble comes. What a good God we have. How wonderful it is to be loved by him!
Father I am lost for words when it comes to expressing how grateful I am for you and your love. My brain cannot fully understand how rich and deep your love is. Thank you that in the way Jesus behaves toward me I see a picture of what you're like. Please help me to know you more and to love you more today. Amen.