Wednesday 02 August 2017

Bible Book:

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” (v. 11)

John 10:11-21 Wednesday 2 August 2017

Psalm: Psalm 80


'Shepherd' is a term familiar to readers of the Bible. It isused widely, including in relation to significant characters(David, for example), but in the Old Testament there are manyexamples of bad shepherds too. In this passage Jesus declareshimself to be the "good shepherd" but, although he does not flee atthe first sign of danger, he does not say that he will fight offthose who wish to harm the sheep either, so understandings of whatmakes for a proficient shepherd begin to fall apart.

Jesus gives a different kind of content to his claim to be a'good' shepherd. He says that he knows his sheep and they know him(verse 14). They belong to him and he claims to know them as theSon knows the Father (verse 15), indicating an intimacy andprofound depth of relationship, insight and understanding. Inreturn, the sheep know the shepherd. They do not just know abouthim, but know him through personal experience and relationship. Theidea of a deep, instinctive knowing backed up by experiencecontinues from yesterday's passage (link). Jesus is the shepherdwho shows love and concern for those under his care. The focus ofhis energy is directed towards the well-being of the flock. Unlikethe thieves or bandits or hired hands whose motivations for leadingthe sheep may be more suspect, Jesus seeks their well-being andleads them to fullness of life. Indeed, Jesus is willing to laydown his life for them.

This laying down of life is more than an allusion to physicaldeath. Jesus gives his whole self to and for his people. He iswilling to put his life on the line for them. Just as the Fatherholds nothing back from the Son, so Jesus knows who the people areand what they can be, and he gives himself for them.

There is more: Jesus does not just lay down his life, but hasthe power to take it up again. The laying down and taking up oflife enables this mediation and outpouring of self-giving love. Itis from Jesus' life laid down that eternal life arises.

To Ponder

  • 'Shepherd' is an image that is often used for when exploringideas of leadership. What might this passage contribute to yourunderstanding of leadership?
  • Which leader might you follow, and whose leadership might youreject, if the criteria for judging their suitability was whetherall they do is for the well-being of those for whom they areresponsible?

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