“Following the Shepherd, Loving the Sheep”
So again Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and bandits; but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate. Whoever enters by me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.
“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. I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again. I have received this command from my Father.”
The fourth Sunday of Easter is known as Good Shepherd Sunday. As a result, each year on the third Sunday after Easter we read from the tenth chapter of John’s gospel. The other passage from the Old Testament that goes with the gospel of John is Psalm 23. The Good Shepherd Sunday texts, as I see them, has two parts. The first talks about the shepherd’s love for the sheep, and the second part contains loving the sheep.
The shepherd so loves and is so devoted to his sheep that he would give his life for the sheep. In other words, the good shepherd’s love is self giving and sacrificial. And the shepherd commanded us to love one another in the same way that he has loved the sheep.
You cannot follow the shepherd without loving the sheep. This assertion is stated over and over again in the Bible. To follow the shepherd is to care for and love the sheep. In John 13:35, it says, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” At another time, Jesus asked Peter, “Do you love me?” To which, Peter answered, “Yes. I do love you.” Jesus responded, “Then, feed my sheep.” Following the shepherd and caring and loving the sheep always go hand in hand.
Tezenlo Thong, Pastor
Simpson United Methodist Church