Saturday, August 4, 2018
14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep 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 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. 17 The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. 18 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.”
Think of the 23rd Psalm: “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.” Jesus is our good shepherd. Think about the episode from chapter nine about Jesus healing the man who was blind from birth. Jesus is not like thieves and robbers; he is not like the Pharisees who threatened to throw the formerly blind man out of the temple. Jesus knows his sheep and his sheep know Jesus, just as the blind man came to believe Jesus was the messiah.
Jesus knows his sheep, as does his Father. Jesus will lay down his life for his sheep. God loves Jesus because Jesus’ love for us is great enough to choose to sacrifice his very life for us. That is truly the definition of a good shepherd! The more I contemplate this passage, the more I am filled with gratefulness and praise.
Jesus feels I am worthy enough to lay down his life for me. Jesus loves me enough to give up his very life. This is his decision – self-sacrifice. But more than simply sacrifice, God has given Jesus the authority to both lay it down and take it up. Think of this in contrast to Pilate, who thought he had the power to take Jesus’ life from him (John 19:11) Jesus reminded him that his authority came only from God. Jesus chose to give up his life – for you and me.
How amazing is that, Gracious Shepherd, to consider how deeply you know me, how much you love me! Some days I hardly think I am worthy of such love, much less the sacrifice of your life, laid down for me. It makes me love you all the more, for you see in me much more than I see in myself. Let me be committed anew to doing such good as will honor you, choosing to live in ways that give you the praise. Let me listen today to your voice, for I belong to your flock. Amen.