Bible Verses of the Week

The Good Shepherd

11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 The hired hand, who is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away—and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. 13 The hired hand runs away because a hired hand does not care for the sheep. 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. (NRSV, John 10:11–16)

Jesus was often compared to a shepherd (Matthew 2:6, 25:32, Hebrews 13:20). A shepherd was absolutely responsible for the care and protection of his sheep. He might have to risk his life to protect them from wolves. Like a good shepherd, Jesus gave His life on the cross to save us from sin.

In contrast, some shepherds were merely hired hands who cared nothing for the sheep. When danger appeared they would run away and leave the sheep defenseless. Like bad shepherds, many of the religious leaders of Jesus' time cared little for the people they led. Even today, there are some religious leaders who are motivated by wealth and power instead of true concern for the "flocks" they lead.

Exclusiveness is a hard thing to unlearn. The Jews of Jesus' time thought of themselves as special to God and did not associate with Gentiles. But in verse 16 Jesus made the point that God's love is for everyone of the world. Instead of associating only with people of our own race or nationality or social status, we are called to be a "light to the world" (Matthew 5:14-16 ) to show by our love what it means to be Christians (John 13:34-35, 1 John 3:14-17).