In this chapter I love the way Jesus is portrayed as the mystic. Jesus states, “I am the door” and “I am the good shepherd,” This is so poetic, so beautiful.
That Jesus identifies himself purely as an identity of divinity is clear in these statements, as well as suggesting that we are all souls made in the pure image of God: “Ye are Gods.”
As a fully realized spiritual being Jesus did not speak of his human nature as God; he did not identify his human ego as “I am God.” But rather, “I and my father are one.” Jesus and his father are not the same person, but they are one in essence and nature. His divine works also testify to this: “The works that I do in my Father’s name testify to me…” and “I have shown you many good works from the Father.” In Jesus’ manner of presenting himself, he manifested the realization of his consciousness as having derived from God. This is also exemplified in this statement: “I have come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” I take this line to mean that by knowing God our lives, our very Being-ness, becomes rich, deep, and abundant in the ultimate, spiritual, non-time oriented dimension, not necessarily so that we may live abundantly or richly or long in the historical dimension. Indeed, the truths that open from Jesus’ speaking with the consciousness of Christ seem to lead us deeper and deeper into God. This is truly abundant life!
When Jesus says, “My sheep hear my voice, I know them, and they follow me,” I recall that feeling of being roused by an internal voice, and at the same time seeing with a clarity I had never experienced previously. Hearing and seeing in this way left no doubt within me about the presence of spirit, of grace, of divinity surrounding me, and of a pure ”knowing.” Since that experience, I continue to feel compelled to listen for this voice, and to see with ‘pure eyes’.
Is Jesus God or a man infused with Christ Consciousness, the omniscient intelligence of God? I wonder if there is truly a difference. Divine nature shows itself in a multitude of ways – from qualities of inward light, including benevolence, innocence, wisdom, loving kindness, humor, and compassion in human forms, and within the millions of natural wonders of the universe.
As much as I enjoyed contemplating these concepts from these passages from John, I could also see the seeds of pejorative attitudes that have existed for centuries based on the way the scripture is worded. Anti-Semitism could be interpreted from the language regarding the “Jews,” false prophets, thieves and robbers, etc. For example, in the sheep pen, the shepherd is the gate. Jesus states that anyone who climbs into the sheep pen (followers) by some other way than through him (Jesus), are “thieves and robbers.” If Jesus is the only gate to God, all other faiths are discredited. Jesus also stated that “All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers; but the sheep did not hear them.” I had trouble with these passages initially. It reads in our modern language as though Jesus is dishonoring other religions, as well as Abraham, Moses, Elijah, Buddha, John the Baptist, and other great spiritual leaders who preceded him. However, it is possible that he is referring to teachers who claim, by elevating their own egos and seeking devotion by followers, are robbing followers of the devotion meant for God. Ignorance or spiritual blindness is really the thief, in that this prevents people from having a life of true spiritual grace in God. Based on the essence of his teachings, Jesus would not have discredited great prophets and seers who delivered such similar messages about the presence of Divinity within.
When Jesus says, “I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They, too, will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd,” I believe he expands his vision, and unifies all spiritual teachings to one voice, one God.
Still, there is a lot in these passages that harm if taken literally, and unfortunately damage the message of Christianity.