10 The thief enters only to steal, kill, and destroy. I came so that they could have life—indeed, so that they could live life to the fullest.
11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 When the hired hand sees the wolf coming, he leaves the sheep and runs away. That’s because he isn’t the shepherd; the sheep aren’t really his. So the wolf attacks the sheep and scatters them. 13 He’s only a hired hand and the sheep don’t matter to him.
14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own sheep and they know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. I give up my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep that don’t belong to this sheep pen. I must lead them too. They will listen to my voice and there will be one flock, with one shepherd.
Due to the much-loved Psalm 23 and to Jesus' image of himself as the good shepherd, there’s now a certain “halo effect” about shepherds. But in Jesus' day (and still in much of the Middle East), most people looked down on shepherds. So Jesus chose a somewhat daring metaphor when he called himself “the good shepherd." His main point was plain: a good shepherd always wants what is best for his sheep. Jesus came to offer us the best possible life, life “to the fullest.”
Lord Jesus, I want to “live life to the fullest”—the way YOU define that phrase. Plant the seed of your word in my heart, and grow it into a life that nourishes life in others. Amen.
* William Barclay, The Gospel of John—Volume 2 Chapters 8–21 (Revised Edition). Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1976, p. 60.
It’s really interesting to me that Jesus spends a lot of time in this passage drawing a distinction between the shepherd and the thief. The shepherd is the one who nurtures the sheep and cultivates the fullness of their lives; the thief is the one who comes to steal and destroy the lives of the sheep.
In this teaching, I am one of the sheep. A couple of disjointed thoughts stand out to me as I read the passage:
When we take on the call of being an “influencer,” as Pastor Scott has reminded us we are to do, we also take on the responsibility of leading people. It’s important that we lead them not to follow us, but to follow Jesus – we are representatives of Christ. We, like John the Baptist, are here to point others to Jesus, and we can’t do that if we’re not following Jesus ourselves.
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