John 10:11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”
Back in 1969 the Jefferson Airplane sang “O Good Shepherd, feed my sheep.” If you are into 60’s rock you can google it. Even in the heart of the Woodstock generation there was recognition of this biblical image, however interpreted. Interestingly, at the end of John’s gospel, a section that some think was a later addition, this shepherd image is powerfully revisited. Jesus asks Peter three times, “do you love me,” probably echoing his three denials on the night of Jesus’ arrest. After Peter responds in the affirmative all three times, Jesus replies, “Feed my sheep” (John 21:17). This movement from sheep to shepherd seems to be what much of life is all about. As children our job is to learn trust, that there are those who care for us (including God) in all the practical and affective ways life demands. We’ve all seen or experienced what happens to people who don’t have this foundation. As we grow we learn to care for ourselves. There are areas where it is not good to remain dependent indefinitely. But self-sufficiency is not maturity. The goal of life is, at some level, in some way, to go beyond yourself and nurture another- to feed the sheep. It is this self-giving of God that resonates with us when we hear he is the Good Shepherd. It is this desire, by his grace, to be part of the process by which he continues to feed his sheep that expands and fulfills and completes the joy of life. How will the Good Shepherd feed you this week? How will you feed his sheep?