Our Gospel lesson is John 10:11-18, taken today from the Christian Standard Bible (CSB).
I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand, since he is not the shepherd and doesn’t own the sheep, leaves them and runs away when he sees a wolf coming. The wolf then snatches and scatters them. This happens because he is a hired hand and doesn’t care about 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. I lay down my life for the sheep. But I have other sheep that are not from this sheep pen; I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. Then there will be one flock, one shepherd. This is why the Father loves me, because I lay down my life so that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down on my own. I have the right to lay it down, and I have the right to take it up again. I have received this command from my Father.
Jesus says something very interesting about His sacrifice for us in verse 18: “No one takes it from me, but I lay it down on my own. I have the right to lay it down, and I have the right to take it up again”. Jesus was fully aware of the choice He was making and chose to endure this for us. It is hard to understand that He died for our sake, and harder yet that He died for all.
That’s the part that trips me up sometimes. Jesus dying to forgive me is one thing, that His sacrifice was for even those who executed Him is something else completely. Yet we hear His words “Father, forgive them, because they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).
Jesus teaches us a double lesson here – He died for the whole human race and we have no say in who is forgiven. Jesus promised salvation to any that believe in Him, no strings attached. Our opinion has no bearing on this fact.
Gracious God, You sent Jesus to save any who confess Him as Lord. Help us to share the joy of our salvation with the world that all may know Your saving grace. Amen