Sheep can be very trusting creatures, dumb but trusting. All the more reason these words of Jesus to his disciples, recorded in the tenth chapter of John’s gospel, are so interesting.
Jesus has already used this analogy to warn his followers of outsiders who might try to snatch them from his care. Those who have read and meditated on his words, however, will be mindful of his voice and reject those who don’t speak in ways the Good Shepherd would.
As the one who cares for his flock, Christ drew the illustration of himself as the gate for the sheep. Once we are his, no one can take us away.
How good it is to be in the care The Good Shepherd. Listen to these verses:
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.*
Just like he talked about the difference between himself and thieves and robbers, Jesus now contrasts his care with that of a hired hand. What’s the difference?
The Good Shepherd lays down his life for his sheep — dies for them, puts the life of the sheep above his own, sacrifices on their behalf.
The hired hand is quickly scared by predators. He abandons the sheep at the first sign of danger. He leaves the sheep open to attack. He doesn’t care for the sheep.
What makes this difference? Jesus tells us: The hired hand is not the owner; the Good Shepherd is.
When you own something, you take better care of it, because you’ve paid the price for it.
Have you been abandoned by someone you thought cared? Did you trust them to help you find your way in life, but then, at the first sight of trouble, get abandoned and left to wander?
That’s because you put your trust and hope in something or someone who had no stake in your welfare.
Jesus has paid the ultimate price for our lives — he gave his on the cross. He’s got real “skin in the game” — literally.
Who will you trust your life to? Someone who’s only involved because of what he can get out of it, or someone who’s paid to make you his?
Jesus is worth your trust.
Grace and Peace
*John 10:11-13 (NIV).