“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep." John 10:11 NIV
Before this, Jesus has healed the blind man on the Sabbath, infuriating the Pharisees. What follows is the discourse with the Pharisees on what it means to be a good shepherd. We know that Jesus here is talking about himself and his willingness to die for us. But we can also hear his invitation to move from being more than sheep but shepherds.
In Jesus' teaching moments, like this one, he demonstrated to his followers -- his sheep -- all that was important. Knowing he would lay down his life, he taught them everything they needed to know to carry on his ministry. He groomed them to become shepherds who would lay down their own lives for the gospel and the sake of Jesus' other sheep.
Jesus extends to us the same invitation today. He desires us to move from being sheep that merely leads to shepherds who will guide and protect. Many lost sheep in this world need to hear Christ's message of love and hope. This message may not be popular, but it is critically important. We may even suffer humiliation and persecution, but we will be given the strength we need to persevere. As Paul writes, “For to me, living is Christ and dying is gain.” (Php 1:21)
Our good and protecting Shepherd, we give you thanks. Thank you for laying down your life for us so that we might have salvation. Please help us in accepting your invitation to be shepherds. Embolden and empower us today so that we may share your good news with the world. Make us be the shepherds you want us to be. Amen.