I am the good shepherd.
The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
In our 21st century world, most are far removed from an agrarian lifestyle. We don’t grow our own food; it comes from the grocery store. And for those of us who are meat eaters, few have ever raised animals for food. We live in cities where somehow the food appears at the grocery store. We don’t give it much thought. I am not going to debate if this is a good or bad thing. I know you miss out on things with that life. I know I did.
In Jesus day, all would have understood his many references to shepherds. It was part of their everyday culture even if it wasn’t your family’s profession. Even if you didn’t personally know a shepherd, you knew about them. It would be like you not knowing that a Starbucks employee works with coffee. Even if you don’t shop there, you know that Starbucks sells coffee. Shepherds were part of their culture like Starbucks is part of ours.
Jesus used this common understanding to explain truths. We miss it because we don’t see the relationship between the shepherd and his sheep. I understand much more now that we raise sheep.
God works for good
Saturday night, one of our Great Pyrenes, Duke had a barking fit right outside our bedroom window. The window was open so he was loud! Since I was awake, I got up to go the bathroom. My muscles were so sore, everything hurt. My arms and legs were in pain. My back was on fire. It was the kind of sore you get when you exercise way too hard at the gym. You know the kind, where you don’t want to move for the next two or three days. I was in pain. On top of that, my allergies were acting up. I had my nose close to the wool of a sheep that lives outdoors. His wool was covered with oak pollen. I am highly allergic to oak. I was miserable.
I did my stuff in the bathroom and crawled back into bed. I pondered for a few moments before going back to sleep. I was sore and felt bad because of my allergies. And then I thought, “I wouldn’t change a thing. I am a shepherd. And shepherds take care of their sheep no matter what.”
Then I heard the voice of my Shepherd speaking in my head. “I am the good Shepherd. The good Shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”
I was surrounded by such love. I understood that he came to earth to be our Good Shepherd. He gave his life because he does not want any of his sheep to perish.
We tried the best we knew how to save Pie’s life. At that moment, it didn’t matter how much I was going to be hurting, I had to give it my all to try to save his life. That was my shepherd’s heart for a livestock animal. How much greater the love of the Good Shepherd for his children. I saw that Shepherd’s heart last night. I wish I could put into words the tender loving touch I felt from my Shepherd. He laid down his life to save mine and yours. It didn’t matter how much it was going to cost him because he loves us. I got a glimpse of that love.
Pie was a magnificent animal. We had plans to breed him. His offspring would have had a gentle personality with beautiful horns. But that was not God’s plan for his life. He was destined for something greater. His death showed me the love of the Good Shepherd. I would never have seen it without my involvement in Pie’s death.
I know people debate whether animals go to heaven. I have no Biblical basis for this, but I think they do. I think animals have a special understanding of the Father’s love that we as humans don’t. I think he welcomes them home when they pass. I believe that Pie is in heaven walking the Good Shepherd.
What about you?
Has God uses something hard in your life to show you his loves? I would love to hear about it in the comment section.