By John Blase
I don’t know any shepherds. And if I were a betting man, I’d bet you don’t either. Shepherds are long gone. Sure, we hear about them at Christmastime, or we might catch a late-night PBS special on their pastoral ways, but other than that shepherds have no hold in our 2022 lives.
So when Jesus says, “I am the good shepherd” (John 10:11), that phrase poses a challenge for men today. We either tap the brakes and go back to a bygone era in our minds and see Jesus in that same vein (somewhat removed from today), or we hit the gas and speed up to hopefully imagine something more relevant for right now. But what if we focused on the adjective in that statement instead of the noun? Not that the noun isn’t important, because it is. But today’s text doesn’t compare a shepherd to a government official, but rather a good shepherd to a poor excuse for one.
“I am the good shepherd.” Whether you lived in ancient Palestine or you currently reside in Texas, that word “good” rings a bell.
Just so there’s no confusion, Jesus does us a favor and clarifies things. The Shepherd who is good is the one willing to lay down his life for the sheep. The Good Shepherd puts the sheep before himself. He is ready to sacrifice his own life for those in his care.
Men, in a world that wants and rewards awesome and epic and great men, I challenge you to live and one day die a good man. And to do so by taking your cues from the one and only Good Shepherd who calls and knows His sheep by name, and laid down His one and only life for them. Whatever vocation you find yourself in day by day, you have the privilege of living your life in the footsteps of Jesus, the Good Shepherd.
And just so there’s no confusion, let me be clear: the name of the game here is nothing less than sacrifice. It’s not that you and I are trying to be Christ, but that we’re trying to be Christlike. The reality is that you’re simply a man trying to do the right thing, the good thing, the thing that Jesus would do if He were in your boots or your cap-toe oxfords or your Converse.