Lenten Reader | Day 26

The Good Shepherd

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.

“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. I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”

John 10:11-18
This is a passage about the way Jesus loves his people. Unconditionally – without fail. Even if…even when it costs him his life. He loves us like that. Sometimes it is hard to accept that or believe that, but it’s true. He loves us and sticks by us no matter the consequences. And that stands in opposition to the “hired hand.” The Pharisees. Religious leaders who are Bad Shepherds and abandon their people when things get messy. 
That’s obviously good news, but what of the “other sheep that are not of this sheep pen?” In this context, Jesus is referring to the Gentiles – those people not of Jewish descent who, up to this point, have been excluded from God’s family. He is hinting to his Jewish followers that the Gentiles will soon be brought into the sheep pen. They will be included in God’s family – in this work of the redemption that Jesus is up to. 
And that’s good news too. Good news for all of us. Because God doesn’t want to leave people outside of his loving protection. He wants to bring all people in – all people who will have him.  
Have you ever felt outside? Have you ever felt other? I think we all have at some point in our lives, and I’m guessing that a lot of us feel that right now. This is one of the ways that people hurt each other. We exclude and make people feel less than to satisfy our own brokenness. 
But Jesus doesn’t do that. He’s the Good Shepherd. He welcomes all who will come. He will teach us to listen to His voice. He loves us and lays down His life for us so that we can be part of His family. In Christ, we all belong. You belong. You are loved. 
Erik Allsop