The Good Shepard

    May 03, 2020 | Stories

    “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber; but he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the gatekeeper opens; the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” This figure Jesus used with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them. So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers; but the sheep did not heed them. I am the door; if any one enters by me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hireling and not a shepherd, who’s own the sheep are not, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hireling and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd; I know my own and my own know me, as the Father knows me, and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.

    Last weekend Jeanette and I drove into rural Missouri to visit shepherds; sheep farmers.  I wanted to do that so I could interview them and gain some insight into Jesus’ words and His revelation as our Good Shepherd. Here are the questions I asked.

    • If there was one thing you would want us to know about sheep what would it be? 
      Answer: That they will follow your voice especially if you have a bucket of feed.
    • What is the most challenging aspect of being a shepherd? 
      Answer: Lambing season
    • What do you love about sheep? 
      Answer: We love to watch the lambs skip and jump and play.

    There are a lot of ways God could have revealed Himself to us.  He could have revealed Himself as a scientist or mathematician because He is all-knowing, omniscient.  He could have revealed Himself as all powerful like the Genie from Aladdin with phenomenal cosmic powers.

    But primarily God reveals Himself in a baby who becomes a man who can die for our sins and rise to give us life.  He reveals Himself in that love.  And along the way He chooses to reveal Himself as a vine and we are the Branches that draw life from that vine.  He reveals Himself as the bread of life.

    In this Gospel from John he reveals Himself as a door and as a gate.

    He Reveals His Love and Compassion.  As the door He is the way to pasture for the sheep by day and the way to protection and security by night.

    As the Good Shepherd He will be the one who will be the “way and the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except through me.”

    And by that Jesus means through me will be through the cross. Through the cross He will become the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”

    How good is the Shepherd?  So good that He lays down His life for the sheep. So good that the one who enters by the door. The one whose voice the sheep know. The one who knows His sheep by name. The one who leads the sheep and they follow. The one who came as baby in a manger. Who healed a man born blind. Who taught with authority. He is so good that He not only lovingly tends His sheep. He becomes one, becomes a lamb. And not just any lamb. A lamb without spot or blemish. The lamb that is the sacrifice for all sin.

    Coronavirus has caused a lot of disruption and brings with it questions.  Some have wondered if it is the punishment for sin. Coronavirus is not the punishment for sin.  It is certainly a consequence of how sin has diseased all of creation. 

    Jesus took the punishment for our sin

    The Good Shepherd came that we might have life and have it abundantly. That abundance will be fully revealed when we join the Good Shepherd.  Until then we live and are consoled in the valley of the shadow of death.  We need fear no evil for He is with us, The Lord who is my shepherd, who is our Good Shepherd, is with us.

    This Gospel also reveals something about us.  We didn’t need a scientist or a genie with phenomenal cosmic powers.  We needed a Shepherd…..because we have a lot in common with sheep….that oft times go astray, that can do some pretty stoooopid things.  We have the Good Shepherd.

    I am posing my shepherd questions again, but this time thinking about how Jesus might possibly have answered them.

    • If there was one thing you would want us to know about sheep what would it be?
      Jesus might say, “They are sinful but they are forgiven.”
    • What is the most challenging aspect of being a shepherd?
      Jesus might say, “Getting my Sheep to listen to my voice.”
    • What do you love about sheep?
      I love watching the ways in which they share my JOY in them in JOYful response by sharing that love in their homes and with their family and friends.

    May God ever keep you securely in the arms of your Good Shepherd.

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