Our Gospel lesson is John 10:11-18, taken today from the New International Version (NIV).
“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. I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”
Jesus taught us about His role in the kingdom and our relationship with Him using examples from life we could understand. One He used frequently was that of a shepherd and the flock. It gives us a picture of how much He loves us and how much we need His care.
He tells us “the good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (v. 11), a distinct reference to what He has come to do for us. Jesus was fully aware of how God’s plan for salvation would work and that it would result in His death. However He loved God and us so much He was willing to obey.
We may never be called to lay down our lives for God and others, but we must be willing to make the everyday sacrifices necessary. Jesus calls us to change our hearts and lives and help others find the courage to do so as well. Following the path Christ has shown us is the only way we can be saved.
Gracious God, we are thankful for the gift of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Help us to be strong in our faith, sharing the truth of the resurrection with all Your children. Amen.