‘I am the good shepherd,’ says the Lord. ‘I know my own and my own know me.’ John 10:14
Jesus, good shepherd of the sheep,
by whom the lost are sought
and guided into the fold:
feed us and we shall be satisfied,
heal us and we shall be whole,
and lead us that we may be with you,
where you live and reign with the Father
and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
- Acts 4:5-12
- Psalm 23
- 1 John 3:16-24
- John 10:11-18
- Acts 8:26-40
- Psalm 22:26-32
- 1 John 4:7-21
- John 15:1-8
A Thought to Ponder
Easter 4 – John 10:11-18
“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 . . .
“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.”
Jesus’ figure of the good shepherd is not an idyllic, serene image. Palestinian shepherds were held liable for every single sheep entrusted to their care; “good” shepherds, motivated by a sense of responsibility rather than money, considered it a matter of honour to lay down their lives for the sheep in their charge, taking on every kind of wolf, wild beast and bandit in defence of the flock.
While the shepherd/sheep metaphor is well-known throughout Scripture, Jesus’ vow to lay down his life for his sheep is something new. It completes Jesus’ break with the mercenary religious leaders of the Jewish establishment who care little for the flock they have been entrusted to serve.
Christ calls us to the vocation of being “good shepherds”: to seek out and bring back the lost, the scattered and forgotten; to enable people to move beyond their fears and doubts to become fully human; to willingly pay the price for justice and mercy for all members of the “one-fold.”
The Gospel image of the good shepherd calls us to look beyond our own expectations, needs and fears in order to become “shepherds” of reconciliation, compassion and charity to others.
To be a disciple of Jesus is not to be simply a “hired hand” who acts only to be rewarded; real followers of Jesus realise that every person of the “one-fold” possesses the sacred dignity of being children of God and rejoice in knowing that in serving others we serve God. In embracing the Gospel attitude of humility and compassion for the sake of others – in “laying down our own lives” for others – our lives will one day be “taken up again” in the Father’s Easter promise.
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