Devotional: April 22, 2020
“I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd puts the sheep before himself, sacrifices himself if necessary. A hired man is not a real shepherd. The sheep mean nothing to him. He sees a wolf come and runs for it, leaving the sheep to be ravaged and scattered by the wolf. He’s only in it for the money. The sheep don’t matter to him.
“I am the Good Shepherd. I know my own sheep and my own sheep know me. In the same way, the Father knows me and I know the Father. I put the sheep before myself, sacrificing myself if necessary.
John 10: 11-15 The Message
Sacrifice- giving up something for a greater good- is what most of us are called upon to do, at some point our life. Currently we are sacrificing things we normally take for granted: freedom to go places, time with friends and family, jobs and financial security. Why are we doing so? So we will not risk of our health. Sometimes it is easy to give something up. Other times it is very difficult, or even dangerous.
Life demands sacrifices. If you want to earn a wage, you have to go work. If you want to earn a degree in higher education, you must sacrifice time not only your time and effort, but finances as well.
It can be tempting to compare our sacrifices with the sacrifices of others. We might be jealous of those who sacrificed much less. Alternatively, we could feel guilty over those who had to sacrifice more. But comparisons with others rarely make us healthier or happier.
Instead, it may be most helpful to remember Jesus, the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd is good precisely because He is willing to make sacrifices. He is shepherding because He loves the sheep, not because He is paid to do so. The Good Shepherd sacrifices His own safety in order to defend the sheep. He is dedicated to his sheep, not just during the day, but all the time. In other words, He takes the time to really get to know the sheep, and for them to get to know Him. That’s how a flock and Shepherd know one another: by spending huge amounts of time together.
As Jesus talks here about the Good Shepherd, the last words listed here are prophetic- “sacrificing myself if necessary.” It turns out that our Lord’s sacrifice was necessary. Good Friday was the day when our Good Shepherd became the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world. We rejoice that through Jesus’s resurrection, we are now able to be with the Good Shepherd always. Because of His sacrifice, we are offered eternal life! May we always be grateful for the Good Shepherd, and for His unconditional love, which makes Him the Great Shepherd!
Loving and holy God,
Thank you for your care for us, and for all of Your sheep. We know that we can always count on You, for You will not abandon us. Help our hearts to be filled with gratitude and thanksgiving for Your love, and Your willingness to sacrifice everything for us. Thank you for Your deep, deep love. We pray this prayer in Jesus’ name. Amen