John reminds us that Jesus is not only the good shepherd because he’s willing to die for his sheep but also because, in contrast to the hired hand, he’s invested in the sheep’s overall well-being. Jesus will not abandon the sheep when danger lurks.
If we reflect on the fact that this cosmic God, this manifestation of an invisible God, this compassionate, dutiful shepherd is invested in our lives and all that matters to us . . . well, isn’t that mind-blowing?
I would imagine we have all had jobs (paid or volunteer) that were tedious and laborious to the point that we couldn’t wait until our shift was over. Our only investment involved a paycheck or mere obligation. We’ve all played the part of the hired hand in some form or fashion in our lifetime. The part of the wolf, within the context of Jesus and his disciples, may have very well been the religious critics and his own people who had neither “ears to hear or eyes to see.” Because of their misunderstanding of Jesus’ mission, they attacked the sheep through words and deeds, causing them to scatter and lose hope. I’m sure we could list the wolves in our own lives and how they’ve attempted to strip us of hope, love, and faith. And yet we get a picture of what Jesus is not (a hireling) in order to assure us that his goodness comes from his desire to know us fully—to see us and accept us for who we are.
There is tremendous power in being known, especially in being known by the good shepherd: “I know my sheep and my sheep know me” (NIV). If the good shepherd is willing to lay down his life for us, then who could ever rob us of God’s gift of grace and peace?
God, protector and sustainer, thank you for investing in my life. Thank you for knowing me. Amen.
This week’s readings open with a confrontation in Acts between Peter and John and some of the religious leaders. Peter speaks in harsh terms to the leaders, stating that they had killed Jesus; yet by the power of Jesus’ name, a man who could not walk has been healed. By that same name spiritual healing happens as well. The other three passages employ the metaphor of the Good Shepherd. “The Lord is my shepherd,” the psalmist declares, and the shepherd cares for all our needs. In John’s Gospel, Jesus declares that he is the Good Shepherd who lays down his life for his sheep. First John repeats this imagery. Jesus proved his love when he lay down his life for us. If we truly love one another, we also ought to sacrifice in tangible ways
Read Acts 4:5-12. When have you gotten into difficulty for exercising your Christian faith and values? If never, why not?
Read Psalm 23. What is your first memory of hearing or reading this psalm? Has it had a significant role in your life of faith? If so, what has its role been?
Read 1 John 3:16-24. How do your actions reflect your love for God and for your fellow children of God?
Read John 10:11-18. What “wolves” have you faced in your life? How have you experienced the presence of the Good Shepherd with you as you faced these threats?
Respond by posting a prayer.
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
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