JESUS LAID DOWN HIS LIFE FOR US [JOHN 10:22-30]
For the past couple of days, we’ve talked about Jesus’ parable of the good shepherd, and we want to look at it again today. While it may seem repetitious, it is really worth spending time pondering images like this one because of their ability to reveal numerous dimensions about who Jesus is and how deeply He loves us.
Because of the amount of time shepherds spent with their flock, it would not be uncommon for a shepherd to know every detail of each sheep in his care – its markings, its habits, even its personality. Similarly, the sheep knew their shepherd and became very attached to his voice. The mere sound of a stranger’s voice could startle them and send them scurrying.
During spring and summer, when a flock might spend months grazing in the countryside, the shepherd would gather his sheep in a hillside sheepfold for the night. This sheepfold had walls but no gate or door, just an opening where the sheep could come and go. Once the animals were within the walls, the shepherd would act as a door, lying down at the opening to guard his flock. In other words, he would literally lay down his life for his sheep!
Jesus knew that parables like the good shepherd would help His hearers (and us as well) understand His love more fully. He knew that vivid images would help transform abstract concepts into concrete terms that people can understand. Jesus laid down His life for us, and no one can snatch us from His hand (John 10:27-28). His promises are as trustworthy as a good shepherd’s commitment to his flock. When we enter His “sheepfold,” He will keep us close to Him and protect us from all harm.
The next time we (you and I) encounter a parable, let us make it a point to learn more about the images Jesus used. Let us do some background reading. Let His words sink into our hearts. Let us also use our imagination to draw a picture in our minds. Through this kind of study, prayer, and contemplation, the Holy Spirit can open up new avenues of understanding to strengthen our faith and make our love for Jesus burn even more intensely.
Jakarta, 13 May 2014
A Christian Pilgrim