“I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep.” vss. 14-15
Shepherds were a familiar sight to the people of Jesus’ day. Someone had to watch the thousands of sheep that wandered the rocky hills around Jerusalem, and everyone knew that some shepherds didn’t give a rip about the sheep. They would lead the sheep out to pasture and then spend their day messing with the first century equivalent of smart-phones, anything to avoid the tedium of caring for the flock. And if there was trouble, their first thought was for their own safety. They were bad shepherds! Jesus was a good shepherd. He knew his sheep by name and they knew him–and he was willing to die to save them! That metaphor stuck in the early church. Some of the earliest representational Christian art, found on the walls of the catacombs, shows Jesus as a shepherd carrying a lamb across his shoulders. We like that image too–even if we’ve never seen a live shepherd in the fields. For us it’s the perfect image of sacrificial love, the kind of love that God has for us, and that we are to have for one another. We may be smarter than sheep, but we can still get lost, and we know what it feels like to be known by name, embraced, and carried home. And so it will one day be for us all!
Thought for the Day: A time I was shown sacrificial love.