‘I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand, who is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away—and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. The hired hand runs away because a hired hand does not care for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep.‘
— John 10:11-15
Jesus says, “I am the good shepherd.” He says, “I’m not the hired hand.” It is fascinating to think of the true shepherd and the hired hand. It seems the hired hand is halfway offering what the sheep need. It’s like Jesus is saying there are two kinds of shepherds – one that is good, and who really cares and acts like an owner, and one who is more like a hired hand, just in it for the money, not ultimately good.
I think if we are honest, we could say that our whole lives we are searching for a shepherd. Our entire lives we are looking for someone or something that will take care of everything. That will take care of us, that will make things right.
We thought (or maybe we still think) our parents were to be our shepherds. Or, we got married thinking our spouse would be our shepherd. We work hard to vote in so-and-so as the next leader hoping that they will be our shepherd. Sometimes we get into a church and hope that the leaders there will be our shepherd. We hope for the one that will take care of everything in our troubled hearts and world.
Or, for some of you who are kind of natural born leaders, you’ve maybe decided, “I’m qualified to be my own shepherd. With enough drive, experience, education and connections I can be the guide of my own life. I can take care of everything myself.”
Jesus says, “I am the good shepherd, and you are the sheep.” The metaphor that scripture invites our minds to live in is this: We are sheep in desperate need of a Shepherd. No one else can be your shepherd except this one good shepherd.
There is no father or mother love that is deep enough. There is no spousal love that compares. There is no friend love wide enough. There is no professional accomplishment, praise or acclaim that will sustain.
Jesus says ‘I am the good shepherd. There is no one who can guide you like I can, there is no one who can provide for you like I can, there is no one who will be with you always like I am, there is nothing that can fulfill you like I can.’ Scripture is saying that this shepherd is a particularly good shepherd — one who will lay his life down for you.
You can have other shepherds, and you will, but what you will find in the end is that every other shepherd you seek to shepherd you will somehow let you down. Your parents most likely gave you the very best that they had, most parents do. And guess what? It still wasn’t enough. It can’t be, because the hole inside of you can only be filled by the one who created you.
May we be shepherded by the only wise one today.