“I am the good shepherd, who is willing to die for the sheep. When the hired man, who is not a shepherd and does not own the sheep, sees a wolf coming, he leaves the sheep and runs away; so the wolf snatches the sheep and scatters them. The hired man runs away because he is only a hired man and does not care about the sheep. I am the good shepherd. As the Father knows me and I know the Father, in the same way I know my sheep and they know me.
And I am willing to die for them.” John 10:11-15
We have all grown up with art work depicting the Good Shepard as a gentle Jesus cuddling a little lamb. That is hardly the scene Jesus presents in John’s gospel. In this scene, the shepherd is standing between his sheep and a hungry wolf baring his teeth and he does not run away. He lays down his life.
The message for us is that apart from Him–apart from Jesus–we are wolf food.
That’s the point of Easter. Easter is the celebration of Christ’s victory over death. Easter is the victory of the Shepherd from heaven over the wolf from hell. And the prize is you and me. But the victory comes at a heavy price. We need to let go of the pretty picture of a gentle shepherd surrounded by His adoring sheep. And see that Jesus is the Shepherd who stands between us and the wolf and gives his life to save us.
If this were any other story than His Story, this would be total disaster. If a shepherd lays down his life for his sheep and he dies, he leaves them in a terrible situation. The death of the shepherd means the death of the sheep. But in this story – our story – the death of the Good Shepherd means life for the sheep. Because ...
Christ is risen!
He is risen indeed!
Our Shepherd lives to defend us forever.