Sunday 29 April 2012

Bible Book:

"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." (v. 12)

John 10:11-18 Sunday 29 April 2012

"I am the good shepherd," says Jesus in verse 11 - one of hismost famous sayings. Those of us who have read this passage and Psalm23 over and over again, instantly think of "still waters" and"green pastures", which are beautiful images, and it may be thatyour life is busy and stressful and you want to stay with the imageof the God who "restores [your] soul" (Psalm23:3). But for many of us these images have been used again andagain and, for those who live in cities at least, may feel farremoved from our everyday life.

What we do not always notice is that Jesus is describing acontrast with the "hired hand" who runs away, leaving the sheep tothe tender mercy of the wolves, and in doing so is joining hisvoice to that of the prophet Ezekiel (chapter34) who bitterly complained that the "shepherds of Israel" (Ezekiel34:1) had fed themselves but had abandoned the sheep. In verse4 Ezekiel accuses them, "You have not strengthened the weak, youhave not healed the sick, you have not bound up the injured, youhave not brought back the strayed, you have not sought the lost,but with force and harshness you have ruled them". Israel had beenlet down by the very people meant to care for the people. It is nocoincidence that, immediately before this passage Jesus was inconflict with the Pharisees over a blind man (John9) and immediately after the Jews are divided and there is anattempt to stone him (John10:19-39). Jesus is addressing those who have been damaged byfalse shepherds.

And to people who have been used and abused by those supposed tocare for them, Jesus promises a new kind of shepherd, who choosesfreely to lay down his life and to take it up again.

To Ponder

  • What examples of false shepherds can you think of, and whatdamage have they done?
  • What difference (if any) does it make to hear this promisethrough the ears of someone damaged by false shepherds?
  • What are the marks of a true leader for you?


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