LENT 2023 - Jesus Said: I Am The Good Shepherd, Part I
Friday March 3, 2023
Perhaps one of the most well-known "I Am"s of Jesus is: I AM THE GOOD SHEPHERD.
“I AM THE GOOD SHEPHERD.
The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep.
So when he sees the wolf coming,
he abandons the sheep and runs away.
Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it.
The man runs away because he is a hired hand
and cares nothing for the sheep.
I AM THE GOOD SHEPHERD;
I know my sheep and my sheep know me—
just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—
and I lay down my life for the sheep.”
Now, speaking of shepherds and sheep, although completely foreign to me, was nothing new to the Jews of Jesus’ day.
In fact, the shepherd vocation dates all the way back to Abel, the second son of Adam and Eve, who “kept flocks” - while his brother Cain worked the soil. (Genesis 4:2)
The Patriarchs were all shepherds, as was Moses. King David in many of his psalms (23,78,79,100,119) and the prophets Isaiah (53) and Ezekiel (34) often spoke of the people of Israel as sheep, and of God as their Shepherd.
“The idea of shepherding, and in specific the idea of God acting as the Shepherd of His people, is a motif found throughout the Bible, from beginning to end. In Genesis 48:15, as Jacob on his deathbed summarized his life, he declared that God had been his “shepherd all of his life to this day.” In Revelation 7:17, when the saints who come out of the tribulation are brought before God, John brings together two of the most striking images of the scripture by stating, "for the Lamb in the center of the throne shall be their shepherd and shall guide them to springs of the water of life; and God shall wipe every tear from their eye.”” (www.xenos.org/essays/shepherd-motif-old-and-new-testament)
“As we look at the characteristics of a good shepherd it will become clear that God chose this motif at least in part because His people are so apt to act like sheep. Scriptures like Isaiah 53:6 remind us over and over again that God’s people and sheep are very much alike and the connection is most often negative. “Sheep are not only dependent creatures; singularly unintelligent, prone to wandering and unable to find their way to a shepherd even when it is in sight.” The analogy is fitting. It is clear, because of our helplessness and our tendency to wander and get lost, we are in need of a Good Shepherd.” (www.xenos.org/essays/shepherd-motif-old-and-new-testament)
So, let’s spend a few moments looking at Jesus’ words: “I AM THE GOOD SHEPHERD.”
"I" - He always equated Himself with God the Father, who often stated that He was the Shepherd of His people Israel (Psalm 23, Ezekiel 34)
"AM" - not "was" or "will be”, but “am”: an eternal and absolute "AM"
"THE" - versus “a” and versus “one of many” - because there is only ONE, and Jesus is HE
"GOOD" - versus the "bad" religious leaders of His day (Matthew 23), and the “wicked” religious leaders throughout most of Israel’s history (Ezekiel 34)
"SHEPHERD" - versus "hirelings" or "hired hands”, who don't own the sheep and don’t care about the sheep - who work only for a salary, and not out of love
Join us here again in Reflexiones Para Vivir in ENGLISH next Monday March 6 to read LENT 2023 - JESUS SAID: I AM THE GOOD SHEPHERD, PART II.