I am the Good Shepherd
I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— just as the Father knows me and I know the Father —and I lay down my life for the sheep. (John 10:14-15 NIV)
Last week we looked at how Jesus is the Gate for the sheep and how he protects them but also releases them into the freedom of the pastures. Here is another saying from Jesus - he is the good shepherd. A shepherd is responsible for the flock of sheep and it is his job to keep them safe, to ensure that they are healthy and well fed. He keeps the wild animals away and may even have to fight them off. As we know from another parable of Jesus, a shepherd is always counting the sheep to make sure he hasn't lost any.
In describing himself as a shepherd, Jesus is showing us how he looks after us. He longs to keep us safe, to ensure that we receive the food we need and to keep our heart safe, providing us with all that we need. As we come to him, in weakness and vulnerability we can allow ourselves to be gathered in his arms (Isaiah 40:11).
In the time of Jesus, it was very common for the shepherd to be employed by someone else who was the owner of the sheep. The shepherd stewarded the flock but, very often, he cared for the sheep as if they were his own. So it is with Jesus, he looks after us on behalf of his Father. Ultimately this Good Shepherd laid down his life for the sheep, he put them before himself because he was primarily concerned with doing the work of the one who sent him, his Father.
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