John 10:11–18 NRSV – “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 10:12 The hired hand, who is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away—and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. 10:13 The hired hand runs away because a hired hand does not care for the sheep. 10:14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 10:15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep. 10:16 I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. 10:17 For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. 10:18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again. I have received this command from my Father.”
Summary – In the previous chapter Jesus healed the man born blind and chapter 10 is His continued explanation of His care for people vs the Pharisees’ lack of care. Jesus is the Good Shepherd, not the hired hand. He will defend the sheep against wolves even if it costs His life. The true sheep in God’s pasture hear the voice of Jesus, even those not in the Jewish fold. There are sheep from every nation for which Jesus will lay down His life. Even more, as we celebrate the season of Easter, He will lay down His life “in order to take it up again.” No one takes the life of Jesus, but rather He yields it up, Himself, and has the power to “take it up again.” This foreshadows His death and resurrection.
Insight – The beautiful words of this chapter remind us that Jesus cares for His people. He stood against the hire hands who were fleecing the sheep, namely the Pharisees and Sadducees. Finally He engaged the ultimate enemy of the sheep, the wolves of sin and death. In laying down His life on the cross He conquered sin and death. Just because of this victory through death, He had the power to “take it up again” – He was raised over death. Jesus is both the Shepherd and the Lamb, both the sacrifice and the priest. Since Jesus provided salvation from sin and death, so we must follow His example and give of ourselves for others, whether this means simple acts of service like setting the table, washing the dishes or sharing with others; or whether we risk our jobs, our reputations or even our lives to help others. Just as Jesus had the power to rise again (through the Father and the Spirit),, so too all who give of themselves in Christ, find that they are renewed and have life in Him.
Child Catechism – Who is Jesus? Jesus is the Good Shepherd.
Discussion – How does Jesus death and resurrection give us the basis for serving others? In what ways are we called to follow Jesus’s example of “laying down our lives”?
Prayer – Good Shepherd of the Sheep, our Savior Jesus Christ, we thank you for your acts of courage and care in giving your life for the life of the world. We rejoice that you were raised victorious over death. Grant to us the grace to follow your example, being made right through your atonement and empowered by your Spirit. Help us see the ways that we may please you in serving, loving and sacrificing for others. In Christ’s Name. Amen.