Daily Devotion 12 January 2021
John 10: 14-18 ‘Jesus the Good Shepherd’
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. 17 For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord.
We once drove out into the countryside at lambing time so our little daughters could see the lambs frolicking in the fields. We drove miles, to no avail – all the farmers seemed to have pastured their sheep away from the roads. Then finally success, we found a field full of sheep and lambs right alongside us and stopped to watch them. “Oh good, sheeps for Daddy,” said the elder daughter, as she carried on the game she was playing with her sister in the back of the car!
That lovely spring season will soon be here again and it always reminds me of Jesus’ precious words, “I am the good shepherd”. He gives three reasons for this.
First of all he says, “I know my sheep and they know me.” That’s a picture of relationship, of time spent together, of trust, of care, of interest in those under his watch and of personal knowledge of them, as well as their response to him.
Then, Jesus says, “I lay down my life for the sheep.” At night, the shepherd lay across the gateway of the fold to protect his sheep. Nothing, be it lion or wolf, went in without encountering the shepherd first. Lying there, he effectively put his life on the line for his sheep. Jesus makes it clear here in John 10 that he is laying down his life of his own accord – he’s choosing to give his life for the sheep, choosing to give his life for us.
The third reason for being a good shepherd, in Jesus’ words, “I have other sheep…I must bring them too.” The good shepherd is concerned for all the sheep, for every sheep in the world, not just the ones in his sheepfold. That means Gentiles a s well as Jews, of course, and we know that Jesus reached out to the outcast and the sinners, that he mixed with the fringes of society. But isn’t it possible too that the other sheep ‘not of this fold’ might include people of other faiths who reach out to God, the one God, in other ways? Could they not be among those that Jesus ‘must also bring’ so that they will hear his voice and that finally there shall be one fold and one shepherd?
The good shepherd cares for all sheep, not just the ones who are currently in his sheepfold. And God cares for every one of his children, not just for those who follow the same way as us. For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son (John 3:16).
God, our Father, we thank you for sending Jesus, the good shepherd, to show us your compassion and care for all your children.
Give us a deeper understanding of the needs of our suffering brothers and sisters in the world, and implant in our hearts your love of justice, truth and mercy.
Transform our complacency into concern, and our concern into action; and accept the service we offer in partnership with those in other lands as we seek to do what is right for your world. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Reflection and Prayer © 2021 Ann Caffyn.
Image freely available online.
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