Today’s passage from John focuses on Jesus the good shepherd (John 10:11-18). The imagery is iconic, with our Lord described as the guardian shepherd. Jesus repeatedly uses the metaphor of shepherds and sheep to emphasize the way in which he cares for us.
Jesus is not just any common shepherd. Instead, our Lord describes himself as the one who is willing to die for his sheep. Flocks are valuable assets. So in one sense it is not surprising that shepherds will do what they must to protect their investment. And yet Jesus is no ordinary shepherd and we are more than monetized possessions. Jesus’ commitment to us is such that he will pay the ultimate price to ensure our well-being.
Do you feel sheepish about your faith? Does some reluctance impede you such that you don’t feel Jesus’ support? Given the challenges of Jesus’ earthly ministry, it is not surprising that our Lord went to great lengths to comfort his disciples. There’s nothing wrong when we admit how challenging it is to feel God in our lives.
We’re reminded that God has not abandoned us. We are still being watched over. Through the enlivening presence of the Holy Spirit (God’s essence) we are sealed with a divine promise. We are forgiven and redeemed. With life’s hectic nature we don’t always recognize or feel the marvelous ways in which God looks after us. Often, are attention is bound in distractions that tempt us to stray from the fold as if we’re wayward sheep. Our free-ranging nature leads us into spiritual peril where we can nonetheless call for God to lead us to safety.
My prayer is for us to place ourselves more fully into God’s care. Even when we have friends and family, there are times when no amount of earthly help will suffice. Jesus our good shepherd stands ready to apply resurrection power and rescue us from all types of dangers. God also enlists us to help find other sheep. There are many lost people who need our assistance. Hence, a great privilege is our outreach to souls in peril, those who have not yet responded to God’s call. Often, those persons most at risk don’t realize what they face until a catastrophe. And yet even after a disaster we can be there to give aid and comfort in God’s name. Through outreach we can share the gospel and help those who may not recognize how far they’ve strayed.
–Reverend Larry Hoxey