The Good Shepherd

John 10: 11-18
Acts 11: 1-18 / Pss 42, 43

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.
(John 10:14-15)

Strengthened by Your staff and rod,
We serve as shepherds for Your Word,
Fully trusting our loving God --
His promise of a king’s reward.

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own 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.” (John 10:11-18)

Reflection

The religious leaders of the Jews were well-versed with Scriptures, especially the Psalms and the writings of the prophets, and they knew that the word “Shepherd” referred only to Yaweh God, as they recalled Psalm 80:1: “Hear us, Shepherd of Israel, you who lead Joseph like a flock” (Psa 80:1); the prophet Ezekiel: “You are my sheep, the sheep of my pasture, and I am your God, declares the Sovereign Lord.’ (Ezek.34:31) Or in the Book of Isaiah: “The Lord tends His flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them close to His heart; He gently leads the ewes with care.” (Isa 40:11) Hearing Jesus refer to Himself as the “good shepherd” must have sounded like a blatant blasphemy that deserved being stoned to death. But what the Jews failed to see was that the Scriptures of old were also foretelling a Shepherd who was to come, as prophesied by the prophet Micah (among others): “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times. . . He will stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God. And they will live securely, for then his greatness will reach to the ends of the earth.” (Mic 5:2,4) And Jesus was telling them (and us) that He was (and still is) indeed the fulfillment of those prophecies.

King David, a shepherd himself in his youth, may have been writing about the Messiah as well when he wrote his Psalm 23: “The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside restful waters, He refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of darkness, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” (Psa 23:1-4) When Jesus began His mission, He taught His followers that with Him as their shepherd, they lacked nothing (Mt.6:25-34). Twice He made the thousands lie down on the grass as He multiplied the bread and fish to feed them. He calmed the raging waters of the sea, (Lk.8:24), baptized in the river Jordan (Jn.3:22), and turned water into wine to refresh the wedding guests at Cana (Jn.2:7-10). In all His travels, He taught His disciples to obey the commandments of God and to repent of their sins, and to follow Him as the only Way to the Father. It is for His name’s sake that we are called Christians. And because Jesus has conquered death with His resurrection, we are no longer afraid of the darkness of sin. We are empowered by His Word, the Bible (His rod), and the traditions of His Church (His staff).

Lord Jesus, You are our faithful Shepherd, who was also God’s Sacrificial Lamb Who offered Himself for the remission of our sins. In gratitude for all that You have done for us, may we also follow Your example, and be a shepherd to others who are still in darkness, to lead them to the faith for Your name’s sake. Amen.

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