“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also… and there shall be one flock.” (John 10:11,16)
Christ is risen! He is risen indeed; Hallelujah!
There could be no better season to remember ‘the Good Shepherd’ discourse than Eastertide: on Good Friday, he literally laid down his life for the sheep! The innocent man was loaded with insults, was whipped and spat on, was betrayed and crucified in broad day light and displayed for public shame – paying the ultimate price in the place of the guilty sheep. Apostle John uniquely quotes seven ‘I am’ statements of Jesus Christ which do not appear in the synoptic gospels:
I am the bread of life… never go hungry (6:35)
I am the light of the world… never walk in darkness (8:12)
I am the gate for the sheep… through me they will be saved (10:7)
I am the good shepherd… I know my sheep (10:11,14)
I am the resurrection and the life… live and never die (11:25-26)
I am the way and the truth and the life… come to the Father (14:6)
I am the true vine… apart from me you can do nothing (15:1,4)
Each of the seven is pregnant with a reviving message; but in the center of the list is the statement that evokes memories of Psalm 23 and breathes peace to every sheep that comes to full awareness that her caretaker is the good Shepherd.
I read a sad quote about earthly shepherds: ‘The sheep lives all its life worrying about the wolf, only to be eaten by the shepherd!’ In the restaurant he calls it lamb, and really enjoys his meal. This is a poignant illustration, but should not make you guilty of eating what God has provided and declared clean. On a more serious note, Ezekiel, in a hot message warning both political/civil and spiritual leaders, accuses princes and officials of tearing their prey – they devour people to make unjust gain (Ezek 22:24-29). Officials in today’s governments and organizations have come to spotlight severally being accused similarly. We are not short of examples of bad shepherds who feed on the very sheep they should be protecting.
Our Lord Jesus Christ is the Good Shepherd. He never eats his sheep. He left His Father’s throne above, so free so infinite his grace; emptied himself, and bled for Adam’s helpless race. He is interested in you; to learn His voice, listen and follow Him, that you may find good pasture and be nourished today, and tomorrow reign with Him in life eternal. The extent of his love reaches the Jews, the Samaritans, the Gentiles, the rich, the poor, the Christians, the Muslims, the Hindus, the Chinese, the straight and the skew – whatever label. As you listen to his voice and follow, He will teach you and transform you to be the good sheep; your roll is only to come to Him. He is indeed the Good Shepherd.