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I Am the Good Shepherd

April 25, 2021

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.” – John 10:11-13

Just prior to these words of Jesus, he worked quite a miracle. Remember the man who was born blind? As Jesus and his disciples were about to pass by this man, the disciples asked whose sin caused the man’s blindness – his or his parents. Jesus responded that neither this man nor his parents caused his blindness but that his blindness was an opportunity to see the work of God displayed. Jesus spit in the dirt, made mud, and anointed the man’s eyes with that mud. Then Jesus told the man to wash in the pool of Siloam. True to the words of Jesus, the man came back with his sight fully restored (John 9:1-7). God’s power over blindness was clearly displayed through this healing.

This kind of miracle often would bring joy and celebration to those who knew the one who had been healed. However, the Pharisees were not rejoicing with him in this case. They were upset because Jesus had healed him on the Sabbath. Surely a man who was sent by God would honor the Sabbath! In following the man-made rules of the Sabbath, the Pharisees missed the work of God.

When Jesus picked up on the theme of the good shepherd, he was speaking directly to these Pharisees and the leaders of the nation of Israel. They were raised up to care for the people entrusted to them. Instead of caring for them and nurturing them in God’s Word, the religious leaders laid heavy burdens upon the people. Instead of encouraging the Hebrews to honor the Sabbath by worshipping God and resting in him, they created thirty-nine extra rules for how to honor the Sabbath. These rules led to legalism and not to worship or rest.

Jesus, on the other hand, did not come to lay heavy burdens upon his people. Jesus came to free them from their burdens, to heal them from their infirmities, and to demonstrate the love of God to them. Jesus, the incarnate God who came to dwell among them, perfectly cared for the sheep. He faithfully taught the Scriptures and modelled what it meant to live a life of perfect love.

Jesus, as the Good Shepherd, would go all the way to the cross to demonstrate his love and care for his sheep. There could be no greater love than that which Jesus showed on the cross. Now, Jesus longs for his sheep to enter in the sheepfold through him, to find their rest there, to receive their nourishment, to know his care, and to live in his perfect love.

Are you living as a sheep who is being cared for by the Good Shepherd?

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