ST. JOHN'S 10th CHAPTER
The tenth chapter of John deals primarily with God's love - "God is love", (Christ is the door and the good shepherd, He and His Father are one). The object of all spiritual striving, the answer to all problems, fears and pain, the strong victor over death - is love.
There are many degrees of love - the love of man for his wife, or of brother for sister, mother for child, father for son, friend for friend. This emotion of human love is the beginning, and holds seed and promise of divine love. Without a spontaneous urge to love rather than to be loved, there can be no opening of the bud. Most human beings long to be loved; but some spontaneously give forth love because they cannot help themselves, because it has grown as natural to think of, to care for, and to cherish the beloved as to breathe and sleep.
In this chapter, the Master has this vision of love, feels this emotion, this great truth and light, when He speaks of the door leading to the fold, and of his sheep. There is a door into the fold and the sheep will follow the shepherd through it. That door is love. The true shepherd inspires you with confidence, faith, and love. The true shepherd enters through the door of love, and the sheep instinctively, intuitively recognize and follow after.
The Master referred to certain wolves seeking to devour the sheep. These are the false teachers, the false leaders, who try to dominate others by reason of intellectual attainment or occult-like power, etc.
(10:1) "Verily, verily, I say unto you. He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber".
The path into the fold is the path of love, of gentleness, self-discipline. The thieves and robbers are those who, refusing this path, try to enter the fold by some other means. There are those for instance, who, eager for knowledge, try to force an entrance through mental or intellectual knowledge. It is one thing to read about spiritual truth, to know it with the mind, but quite another so to live as to express that truth in every thought, word, and act.
Everyone that has awakened to the meaning of love, instantly recognizes the voice of love in another, or in his teacher/master. (10:4,5) "And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice. And a stranger they will not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers.
Who are the strangers? Those who do not ring true. Those who do not speak with the voice of love. Those alien to love are strangers to those who love.
"I am the door; by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and go out, and shall find pastures. The theif commeth not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly." "I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for his sheep. But he that is a hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. The hireling fleeth, because he is a hireling, and careth not for the sheep."
He who "careth not for the sheep" is one who cannot stand the test of love. When once the sheep recognizes the true shepherd, it can no longer be separated from the Master, from Love!
ST. JOHN'S 15th CHAPTER
"I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman…As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; so neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches; He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same beareth much fruit; for without me you can do nothing….Herein is my Father glorified that you bear much fruit; and become my disciples. As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you shall abide in my love; so I also have kept my Father's commandments, and do abide in His love…..This is my commandment. That you love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love than this no man hath, that a man lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends, if you do the things that I command you. I will not now call you servants…but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known to you….These things I command you, that you love one another".
"I will not now call you servants…I have called you friends." Is that not a beautiful verse? As man raises Christ in himself, so Christ raises all men. Christ here identifies Himself with man. Man must therefore identify himself with his brother/ his neighbor. In the degree he does this, we see the spirit of gentleness and kindness enriching all mankind.
This wonderful love, this oneness which makes each soul dependent upon the rest. So we may see a vast brotherhood of life all growing from the same stem, the true vine, all fed and watered by the same source of life, of love!