Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Good Shepherd

John 10:11, 14-16
"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

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