“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” (John 10:11)
I am reminded that Jesus asked Peter to feed “his sheep.” If Peter loved Jesus. Three times Jesus asked and Peter answered, “Yes Lord, I will feed your sheep.” At this writing I am turning over an issue and dilemma in my mind, trying to discern the best thing to do. I know what I probably should do, and it is not that it would be a difficult thing to do. However, according to “worldly standards” it would be a foolish thing to do. And yes, I hear the words of the apostle Paul speaking about wise and foolish things. This thing I think I should do makes as much sense as, well, laying down your life for a sheep!
“The hired hand, who is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away–and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. The hired hand runs away because a hired hand does not care for the sheep.” (Verses 12 – 13)
Granted, I do know that shepherds, sheep, and hired hands are metaphors and do not exactly correspond to normal animal husbandry. There is enough correlation, however, that I have to pause and consider what lessons might be here for me.
“I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own 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 do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.” (Verses 14 – 16)
This passage is often used to encourage leaders, ministers, and lay people who have responsibility for setting an example and caring for those who look to them for guidance. Part of my thinking and discerning process is what sort of an example would I be if I made a poor decision in this instance. But I also have to remember that I am one of the Lord’s sheep and as such I need to trust that the Divine will take care of me in all circumstances. That has also been a part of my thinking.
“For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again. I have received this command from my Father.” (Verses 17 – 18)
I was thinking too, that I was never told or realized how hard it would be to live a pure and accountable Christian life. Not just in the big things, but in the small ones too. Every aspect of daily life and interacting with others. I am realizing we do not get a “pass” – that we aren’t able to get away with doing something simply because others around us would react in a worldly/secular way in certain situations. We are to take the “high road” and go through the “narrow gate.” I admit I am not overly tempted to go the low road, the easy way, and the wide gate. It almost feels against my nature to give into base temptations. And I wonder if I am expecting too much of myself.
It is not an easy path. I was not going to say anything about it. And I may be stretching the meaning of this passage in applying it to myself in this way. But it is on my mind, and it sways my thoughts.
May you, beloved reader, place yourself within the flock of the Good Shepherd. And if you have “sheep” that have been assigned to you by the Divine to care for, may you tend to them as the Divine tends to you! Shalom & Selah!