"I AM...the Good Shepherd...(John 10:11-18)"
A Good Shepherd:
✅ Seeks the sheep who have wandered off from the flock...those who've "transgressed" the Shepherd-Path as they wander off (Luke 15:1-7)...
✅ Goes anywhere necessary to return the sheep to His care, lovingly placing the sheep around His neck (close enough to hear the sweet, tender voice of the Shepherd)**...
And, oh the JOY that follows, because every! single! sheep! matters! to the shepherd!
Good shepherds don't want to lose even one from the flock.
And why so great a JOY? Well, there's this -
Repentance: a turning back, a complete change in direction.
The sheep is HOME!
I first saw the picture above in late 2020, and, simply could not dismiss it from mind.
I kept going back to look at it over and over again.
Something about it seemed to beckon me, to draw me into the picture.
Finally, it dawned on me why.
It happened about the time I sat reflecting on it AGAIN, and asked myself one simple question: Where do I see myself in this picture?
The answer: I reckon I'm the one taking the picture.
Then came another question: Why am I taking the picture?
Answer: I'm in awe of where the Shepherd had to climb; how far away from the rest of the sheep He trudged (BAREFOOT, no less, UP, DOWN, OVER ROCKS!); how intensely He looked for His lost sheep; how willingly He carried the sheep; and, how lovingly the sheep looked at the face of the Shepherd. I guess, in my imagination, I wanted to capture all of that in one photograph.
But, the more I looked at the picture, the more I realized how profoundly and fervently the Shepherd looks at me, the photographer.
In fact, here's the adverb I finally settled on: QUESTIONINGLY...
With His eyes Jesus is asking me:
Am I just going to be a benign picture taker? An on-looker?
Am I simply intrigued by the sacrificial work of the Shepherd, or am I willing to climb, trudge, look, love and chase after sheep with Him?
These are convicting questions.
They need pondering, for sure, but more: they beg to be answered.
Jesus waits for my response!
What will I do?
Will I be a silent onlooker, documenting the sheep going astray, and the few that are being rescued by the few willing to be the hands and feet and voice of Jesus in this world?
More and more, my heart is heavily burdened.
What I'm seeing is an out-flux of sheep leaving the fold of historic Christianity for what seems to be the "greener pastures" of progressivism.
What I know is I'm troubled...
Troubled, as in soul-discomfited...
My spirit is BURDENED.
I'm aware there's a new "gospel" contrary to the one Jesus died to give us; a "contrary" gospel; a "different" gospel...and like the apostle, Paul, in Galatians 1, I'm "astonished" by it.
AND YET, even having been a Jesus-follower for as long as I have (50 years, last Nov 24th), I don't feel adequately prepared to be a Good Shepherd.
My bare feet aren't hardened enough to climb up the mountain to go after the sheep that have wandered astray, reminding them of the REAL Good News.
My knowledge is lacking enough apologetics to be a solid voice of sound, compassionate reasoning.
And, to be honest, the fact that Jesus is looking at me with such questioning eyes, longing for a positive response to His call to be hands, feet, and voice is FRIGHTENING.
It's much more comfortable to stay silent, keep my feet in familiar territory, stay with the sheep who are in the "fold" (the ones who think like me, talk like me, believe as I do)...
Truth is I rather like "preaching to the choir..."
He's asking with His eyes.
And, I...I am only at the same place I once saw myself years back when I told that same Shepherd, who once asked me to leave my comfortable pasture to go to Kenya, "I'm willing to be willing to be willing...."
"Lord, make me more than willing..."
"Change my feet..."
Now then, might He be looking at you with the same question in His eyes?
The Lord needs more Good Shepherds...
Shepherds to do the HARD and HOLY work of going after the sheep gone-missing.
PS. ** In response to those who might have heard that the Shepherds in Jesus day would break the leg of a sheep to keep him close to his heart for a lengthy period in order to restore the sheep...this is a myth...to break a leg of a sheep would be to cripple the sheep permanently (I checked several sheep web-sites and looked at past history...not true).