Thought For Today: The Good Shepherd
Through the course of John’s Gospel Jesus makes seven very specific statements to describe himself:
"I am the bread of life"
I am the light of the world"
"I am the gate for the sheep"
I am the resurrection and the life..." "I am the way, the truth, and the life..." - "I am the true vine..."
“I am the good shepherd”
The reference to ‘good shepherd’ is probably the best known, and also brings to mind Psalm 23, ‘The Lord’s my shepherd. ’What is your image of Shepherds? Do they have a beard? Wear woolly jumpers and have a shepherd’s crook in their hands? Perhaps if you watch ‘Country File’ on a Sunday evening you can picture Adam and his sheep dogs. Certainly a shepherd is someone we might admire for their skills and hard work.
But at the time of Christ shepherds were despised and treated as outcasts. A shepherd was considered unclean and anyone who came into contact with him would also be considered ceremonially unclean. Shepherds were not allowed to be witnesses in court nor were they allowed to be part of the elders who sat in judgement. Amazing then that God the Father choose shepherds to be the ones to whom the birth of the Messiah would be announced first. So, when we come to Christ Jesus saying ‘I Am the Good Shepherd’ we should first and foremost realize that it was a scandalous ascription to place on oneself. Yet Jesus here speaks of Himself as the ‘Good Shepherd’ and of the voluntary laying down of His life.
What are to learn from Christ when He says ‘I Am the Good Shepherd?’ I believe that the significant thing about this Shepherd is that He is also the Lamb of God slain to take away the sins of the world. He voluntarily went to the cross for you and for me so that we might hear His voice and answer His call. He laid His life down that He might take it up again and so defeat death, giving the gift of new life for us. I think that that this leaves each one of us confronted with one question: Is the Lord my Shepherd?
No one but you can answer that today. He came and laid down His life for you. He rose again that one day you too might be raised from death to life eternal. Do you know Him as the Good Shepherd and does He know you as one of His flock?
He calls each one of us not only to follow him but to do so in the context of a personal relationship.
This is a call to make him more than your belief, it is a call to make him your daily reality. A reality that is embedded in your heart and lived out in your life.