To him the porter opens; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calls his own sheep by name, and leads them out.…
This was spoken in the character of the shepherd — the antithesis to thief.
I. THE AIM OF CHRIST — the calling forth, strengthening, and development of the highest life of man.
1. This is necessary work. Mother, teacher, etc., are required for the previous stages of life's realization — animal, social, intellectual attainment. But it is still more essential that spiritual life should be created and sustained. Here we are conscious of helplessness, and just here success or failure affects our entire being and future. All the rest exist for this; and none as fit as Christ, and no method better than His for this task.
2. What hinders that spiritual life should not be spontaneous. A moral taint. Absence of perfect type. Christ came, therefore, not so much to deliver men from a future catastrophe as from existing moral death, and to render possible a grander humanity.
3. As Christ came for this, so His coming was itself the condition, the way of its realization. He lived free from sin and at home in this higher element of life. His example taught and inspired and His sacrifice supplied a basis for this life. Just to live as He did was much. The inventor who lays bare new uses of things, the explorer who opens up unknown lands, the artist who interprets the deep harmonies of nature, the philosopher who discovers new truth — each comes that we "might have life," intensifies its interest, extends its scope, and strengthens its hold on the world, but does not enrich the highest portion of our nature, which is conscious of righteousness, and translates it into action. The latter work is Christ's only, and is accomplished only by full union with Him who is "the Life."
II. ITS VALUE AS AN EVIDENCE OF CHRISTIANITY.
1. Generally a valid claim to trust and welcome. Yet not likely to be allowed: presenting no immediate earthly advantage; not utilitarian.
2. But appealing to the deeper consciousness of men.
(1) As bringing forth the sense of this life in men.
(2) As calling for faith, admiration, and sympathy.
(3) As revealing the solemn meaning of existence, and the need of reconciliation with God.Conclusion: What do we gain? The mastery of our entire nature. "My mind to me a kingdom is"; nay, "I myself." The rest (body, etc.) not a mere scaffolding to be kicked away, but an organic system through which higher functions operate, and within which, ever fuller and fuller, life flows.
(A. L. Astor.)
Parallel VersesKJV: To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out.