“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 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. The hired hand runs away because a hired hand does not care for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own 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 do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again. I have received this command from my Father.”
Food For Thought:
This is by far one of my favorite passages of Scripture. Several years ago, when I was in seminary, I took an amazing course on the Gospel of John. In that class, I studied this Scripture in detail and I came to understand the deeper layers of meaning contained in it. Now, I know that we live in the 21st century, so we don’t understand these pastoral (shepherding) passages as well as those who lived in the 1st century. But I have come to understand this passage as a beautiful way for John to illustrate that Jesus is the Good Shepherd and he willingly laid down his life for us. Think about Jesus’ sacrifice. Think about the sacrifices that you have made for others (a spouse, a child, a parent, a friend). Think of another sacrifice that you can make for the good of another.
Shepherd of all,
by laying down your life for your flock
you reveal your love for all.
Lead us from the place of death
to the place of abundant life,
that guided by your care for us,
we may rightly offer our lives
in love for you and our neighbors. Amen.
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