Wednesday, April 22, 2009
́Τιθημι is the Greek word translated as “lay down” in “lay down my life.” In some form,
αἴρει is Greek for “take up.” It is present tense, not aorist, meaning it was not a one time over and done with deal. Because
γινώσκω, translated, “I know,”is used four times in this pericope.
ἀκούω/φωνή--listen/voice (v. 16) is another significant phrase in the pericope. When used in John’s gospel, it is for hearing God’s/Spirit’s/My/shepherd’s/bridegroom’s voice. The result is joy/life/being led. The other sheep hear
Picture from the catacombs.
John 10:15, 17-18
"...just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. 17 For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. I have received this command from my Father."
Although the Father is not a character in this passage in the same way as the shepherd, sheep etc., he is referred to frequently by Jesus. This is family talk about Father and Son. They know each other. Jesus is obedient to his Father. If taken one step further, it suggests Jesus' divinity. Jesus' status is one of divine privilege being one with the Father (John 10:30).
Since all the references to God the Father concern relatedness, what kind of intimacy and openness do we have to God's will? Is this a relationship we're nurturing in such a way that we can hear God? Are we listening? How else is it possible to be a leader in God's church?
"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" (John 10:12).
Set against the good shepherd and the sheep are the hired hand and the wolf. The shepherd and sheep are good and innocent, while the same cannot be said for the hired hand or the wolf to whom the hired hand exposes the flock.
As the antagonist of the sheep, the wolf imagery suggests violence and rapaciousness. Wolves are predators. Friberg refers to the wolf "as a fierce beast of prey..." When used metaphorically, he says it refers to "a person with dangerous pretenses, such as a false prophet, false teacher, or false leader vicious person, fierce person."
Are we taking care to protect our people from such "wolves?" Are we educating them to discern for themselves between good and bad teaching, between fads and eternal truths? What about our own hearts? Are we feeding off our sheep or feeding them God's Word and the sacraments? Don't we need to guard our own hearts to be sure we don't have some wolf in us?
12 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. 13 The hired hand runs away because a hired hand does not care for the sheep.The status of the average shepherd wasn't that great, but as the owner, at least he had a vested interest in his sheep. A hired hand, however, was working simply for the money, not caring about the sheep. If shepherds were not especially trustworthy, then hired hands were even less so. Some certainly did not do the one job they were hired to do--guard the sheep!
The hired hand leaves them when trouble, in the form of a wolf, comes (verse 12). The hired hand runs away in fear. Unprotected, left alone, the sheep are scattered when the wolf approaches.
There used to be a blog entitled "You've Really Got to Love Your People." This name runs through my mind frequently, especially when we speak of healthy and unhealthy congregations. Are we as leaders abdicating responsibilities of love and care for all God has called us to? Are we loving our people, whoever, wherever they may be? Or are we just in the job for the money, the prestige? Are we being good shepherds or hired hands?
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
John 10:11-18 tells us just a little about the sheep. In verse 14, they know the shepherd. γινώσκω (I know) in some form, is used four times in the pericope. The level of knowledge is compared to that between the Father and the Son; an intimate knowledge.
Jesus speaks of "other sheep" (verse 16) that he will bring into the fold. In Jesus' time, these others were likely Gentile Christians. Who do you think may be the "other sheep," the other people today? How can they be brought in? Jesus, the good, ideal shepherd was able to unite disparate peoples into a band of followers. How can we so unite God's people?
As sheep, since leaders are also followers, as the sheep in their vulnerability, needed shepherding, so do we.
Shepherd Me, O God - Marty Haugen
"I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 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.There is a veritable cast of characters in our passage. The first we'll look at is Jesus as the good shepherd. In fact, the passage opens with Jesus' statement that he is the good shepherd.
Old Testament echoes abound in Jesus' proclamation. In Ezekiel, God upbraids the religious leaders for not caring for the flock. God contrasts God's self with them as the good shepherd (Ezekiel 34). In Ezekiel 34:11-16, God as a shepherd, restores the flock. Ezekiel 34:23 promises that a member of the Davidic line will function as a shepherd. In Ezekiel 37:24, the prophet declares there will be one shepherd over the people of Israel.
In Psalm 23, the role of the shepherd in the life of the sheep is poetically shown us. Here the shepherd provides for the sheep: food, protection, a place for rest, comfort. In John 10:11-18, Jesus shows himself to be that kind of shepherd.
The good shepherd's characteristics in the pericope are: laying down his life for the sheep, protection, provision, he knows the sheep and is knowable by them. Jesus is indeed the model or ideal shepherd. Gingrich in Bibleworks 8 suggests the meaning of "good" could be, “useful, free from defects.”
The shepherd also gathers the sheep. He is able to do so because he has protected them. He loves the sheep. He is willing to lay down his life for them. Jesus is concerned about the sheep and leads them. Because of the above reasons, the sheep respond--hearing his voice and following him.
So what do shepherds and sheep have to do with church leadership? Pastor is just another word for shepherd. Do we show this type of concern and love for those God has entrusted to our care? Are we willing to lay down our lives?
We need to look at this passage through the good shepherd's lens. Now let's look in the mirror. How do we compare?
shepherd leading sheep
This blog will consist of a series of posts regarding John 10:11-18, the Good Shepherd passage. Cultural symbols abound: shepherd, sheep, hired hand, and the wolf. For most of us, these are not part of our daily life as they were in first century Palestine. What do they have to say to us today about leadership in the church and the qualities good leaders must have?