“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand is not the shepherd who owns the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. 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. The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”
Our Good Shepherd
The Bible is full of wonderful pictures that show us who Jesus is: he is the Light of the world and the Lamb of God. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. He is the vine. He is the friend of sinners.
But there is perhaps no more loved picture of Jesus than what we see in John 10. Twice Jesus calls himself the “Good Shepherd.” Many pieces of art depict our Savior and his sheep. Whether it is Jesus lovingly taking the lambs in his arms or vigilantly watching over the lambs gathered nearby, there is something tremendously comforting in that picture. Scripture is filled with references to the relationship between the sheep and the Shepherd and the message is clear: Jesus is there for us. He keeps us safe. He cares for us and supplies our need. He leads us home.
Is there a part of us that balks at that relationship? At times we like to think that we are in control and don’t need a Shepherd watching over us 24-7. We think that life would be better if we called the shots without someone looking over our shoulder all the time. We like to think that we are smart enough to handle what comes our way, so we tend to avoid praying to or leaning on our Shepherd.
Truthfully, we are all nothing more than sinful, wayward sheep. Sheep who wander off to do our own thing. Sheep who tend to think we’re doing just fine on our own and don’t fully realize the spiritual danger we are often in. In reality, because of our sins, our Shepherd ought to open the gate and let the wolf have open season on us.
Remarkably, that is not what our Shepherd does. Rather, we are told: “The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” Our Good Shepherd did not stop at simply giving us some food and taking care of us. He willingly did so much more. He gave his own life in our place and died so that we might live. His sacrifice in our place on the cross has washed away our sins and has opened the gate for us to go in and enjoy the green pastures of eternal life in heaven. As God’s forgiven people, we are happy to admit that we need a Shepherd and we are thankful to have one who loves as much as Jesus does.
Dear Savior, thank you for sacrificing yourself in my place and for being my Good Shepherd. Forgive me for the times I take you for granted and please continue to take such good care of me. Amen.