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“I am the Good Shepherd”

“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

A couple of years ago my husband and I brought home a 12 year old ex-working border collie called Skid for his retirement. He was pretty legendary and an award winning champion in the sheepherding community. At home with us his herding work ethic didn’t leave him and he followed me everywhere, to the bathroom, to the kitchen and then always made sure I was herded back to the safety of my seat. He was a really good boy but interestingly he didn’t much care for the sheep themselves. It was a job and he was really good at it. However, Skid to us was more than just another border collie sheepdog, and that was down to the loving personal relationship we developed.

This passage of Jesus as ‘the good shepherd’ is on another level of shepherding and focuses on the special connection of a shepherd who deeply cares for His flock. The emphasis here being on ‘the’ (set apart, one-off) rather than just ‘a’ (doing a job). A shepherd has an important job to do to look after the sheep and this can sometimes be on behalf of the owner. Like most of us at work shepherds will want to do a good job but perhaps only up to a point. A ‘good’ shepherd will perhaps show a bit more attention and care for the sheep than a shepherd simply doing their job to get paid. Jesus as ‘the good’ shepherd is something unique, different and personal. He cares, He protects, He nurtures and He was willing to lay down his life to save His flock.

This Thought was written by Ruth Mackie