By Rev. Eric Brown
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”- John 10:11
Jesus being a shepherd is a familiar idea. It shows up all over the place in the scriptures, in some of the most familiar passages (the 23rd Psalm), or alluded to with some of the most famous people (King David was a shepherd). And yet, when Jesus says that He is the Good Shepherd and begins to explain what that means, it sort of throws us for a loop.
“The Good Shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” Really? The Shepherd dies for the sheep? It doesn't seem like it should work that way. Isn't the Shepherd worth more than the Sheep? You might praise a shepherd who protects the sheep, but to lay down your life? That seems a bit much.
Yet, that is who your God is. Jesus is the God who would rather lay down His life so that the sheep, even we sheep who so often wander and go astray, would live. When Jesus looks at you, He doesn't size you up and place a value upon you because of your utility. There is no cash or market value He puts on you. He simply loves you, and He will do whatever it takes to keep you safe and rescue you from sin, death, and Satan.
A sling wasn't going to take down the gigantic weight of our sin. That old snarling wolf the Devil wasn't going to leave the flock alone. So Jesus, because He loves you, does what He needs to do to see you save. Whatever He needs to do. And so, He takes up your sin and lays down His life, jumps right into death to rip it apart from the inside.
For you. A sheep. And not to manipulate you. Not to lay a guilt trip on you. Not to use you for wool and mutton. Nope. Jesus does this simply to make sure that you remain His forever. You're not a commodity or resource to be used up by Jesus, you're simply more precious to Him than His own life. Because you're His sheep and He's the Shepherd – the Good Shepherd.
Rev. Eric Brown is pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church in Herscher, Illinois and the co-host of the HT Gospeled Boldly Podcast.
Created: April 25th, 2017