I am the Good Shepherd

If the links don’t work for you, here is Chris’s video presentation Harvest, Counting on God and This is Amazing Grace.

Todays reading is John 10:11-30Open Link in New Window.

Here is today’s reflection by Amber.

Did anyone here have a part time job when they are in high school?

PART TIME JOB

One of my first part time jobs and was helping out in a pharmacy. Now if I’m honest this was a terrible first part time job for me! Firstly, I had no qualifications, so I couldn’t help any customers with their prescriptions. So all I do is I wander around the shop, and slightly tweak the cleaning supplies or toothpaste display. FOR HOURS ON END!

So one day I was finally bumped up from just rearranging to filling in the little PRESCRIPTION PILL packets. (you know the ones, that are set out for each day of the week.)

Now I tried my hardest at this job, but it was hard as I wasn’t familiar with the medications. I had no training and no experience. I would be given a list of the pills for each person and I would try my best to find the right ones and pop them in to the weekly pill packet but with no training I was basically winging it. And at the end of the day I would pack up my things, say a quick prayer and go home. And not give it a second thought.

Now I can see some worried looks. But don’t worry when I came back the next day my manager, the son of the family who owned the pharmacy, had done his job. He had stayed back after the shop had closed and checked the pill packets and sorted them to make sure they were correct. He cared. This was his family’s business and he was fully committed to his work and the people in his care.

In contrast I was only part time and when things got tough I went home and this is what we read about in our passage:

GOD IS THE GOOD SHEPHERD.

In Verse 12 it says: the hired hand is not the shepherd, it’s says the hired hand cares nothing for the sheep. They are not his responsibility.

I’m not going to pretend to know lots about farming, but it’s my understanding the hired hands were often those who were paid to look after the sheep in the evenings. After the shepherd had spent the day tending the sheep, caring for the sheep, taking them to lush pastures, feed them giving them water, he then takes them back to the safe pen.

It’s then the hired hands job to keep them safe overnight.

The shepherd has done the hard work, they just have to guard the sheep while he sleeps. But even this is too much for them. When the wolves circle, they run. When it get tough they are out of there. And what happens? The sheep scatter, they are unsafe and uncared for.

But Jesus states that he is the good shepherd, that he is committed. He is full-time. He’s not going anywhere. When the attack comes, he is our protector. It says he knows his sheep and his sheep know him. There’s a relationship here, trust between the sheep and the shepherd.

UNPACK THE SCENE: BLIND MAN

But lets unpack what going on around this verse and why Jesus is saying this.

In the chapter just before we have the story of Jesus healing a blind man.

Now at this point Jesus is being hounded by the religious leaders, in fact they are in such an uproar they were picking up stones to hit him. But he walks away, and on his way he meets a blind man.

This story is one of incredible faith. God sees this man amongst what must have been this crazy moment. Like: if I’m about to get hit with stones I’m running away, but he stops. He tends to the man’s needs and heals his sight.

The blind man is then beaming for the rest of the chapter, going around telling everyone about the amazing Jesus who healed him.

There is a simplicity and boldness to this chapter. This man knew it was a miracle and there’s this excitement that he can’t contain. He’s like: yes I know it’s amazing, my life has changed! And the religious leaders are trying to trick him and ask him all these questions and he’s like: guys, what more do you want? I was blind and now I see! It’s that simple, are you asking because you want to follow him also? What a bold statement!

In fact this man makes such a commotion about Jesus he is cast out of the city. But Jesus in his kindness goes out and finds him. He sits with him, the Pharisees are following, and in the presence of the man’s enemies, the ones who have cast him out, Jesus explains who he is, to the one who so desperately wants to hear. Sharing that he is the good shepherd.

He speaks to this man and says you see those people, the religious leaders behind me, the ones who cast you out, don’t worry about them, look at me, I am the good shepherd. I love you, I care for you.

When Jesus states he is the good shepherd, this isn’t a fluffy statement, it is a strong and powerful word about who Jesus is.

So GOOD

So, what does this teach us about who Jesus is? why is he so good?

Because he laid down his life for his sheep.

The amazing thing about this is that this isn’t done out of obligation, he wasn’t a robot who was programmed to do this. Jesus questioned it in the garden and chose to stay on the cross.

In these verses we see some awareness that Jesus has of what is coming. Verse 17. “I lay down my life that I may take it up again’. He knows that in order to be the good shepherd, the shepherd we so desperately need, there will be a cost and he is prepared to pay it.

Because you see, even the greatest shepherd here on earth will take care of their sheep, they will guide them and care for them, but in the end when its time to eat, even the most caring shepherd sends his sheep to be killed.

But the good shepherd, he sends himself. Taking our place, he becomes the lamb which is slain.

It’s this amazing picture of God loving humanity, and saying “I want you”, and then Jesus saying “I love you too, let me die for you. Not because God says I have to, but because I want to, because I am your shepherd and I love you!”

And then the father looks at the love Jesus has for us and is like: WOW! I love you for loving them like I love them. And it’s just this amazing relationship and circle of love. Jesus chooses to give up his life because he cares.

And all he invites us to do is to be the sheep

RESPONSE

So what is our response to this love, to the good shepherd?

Be the sheep.

If there is one thing I want you to take away for today it’s that Jesus is the good, kind, loving, trustworthy shepherd, and we are the sheep.

How often do we live our lives trying to lead, trying to make things happen. We get so used to leading and caring for others don’t we.

Do you feel like that, that duty to care for others? Perhaps a friend, a child, a relative.

But are we that quick to let our selves be helped?

I’ve realised this is something I really struggle with. Lately I’ve found myself lifting lots of heavy things, chairs, tables etc. And people often ask “do you want help with that.” And with out even thinking about it I go: I’m good, I’ve got this?

Maybe you’re the same. Or maybe you love accepting help!

But for most of us, why do we find it so hard to accept help? Is it our own pride. Not wanting to admit we need help? Or maybe it’s the desire to not burden others. We think: oh they didn’t really mean to offer help, I don’t want to put them out.

When was the last time you let yourself be cared for? Because guess what, you’re the sheep not the shepherd!

Thinking to Psalm 23Open Link in New Window, the famous psalm about shepherds,

When was the last time you let yourself lay by the clear waters, stretched out on the green grass and just enjoying the company of God.

Stripping away the to-do list, the musts and shoulds. When was the last time you were simply a sheep spending time with the good shepherd?

He’s so good that it says even in the midst of our enemies, of panic and chaos, Gods like: don’t worry, look at me, I’ve got you, look here I’m laying you a table, maybe he’s got some nice napkins, matching cutlery. And its not just a little quick picnic, no its this feast. Then after anointing your head with oil, he’s on your right, filling your cup, but it’s not just full, its overflowing.

This is how much care he has for you when you are his sheep.

Because Jesus isn’t a part time Jesus. He is the perfect shepherd, the shepherd that lavishes his love, his care on us. We just need to follow.

Are you following, are you letting yourself be led, do you let yourself be cared for? Because Jesus wants to lead you through and to these places of rest.

You are the sheep and he is the good shepherd

There will be a video version of the service and a podcast of the sermon.

Share this on Facebook