O God, whose Son Jesus is the good shepherd of your people: Grant that when we hear his voice we may know him who calls us each by name, and follow where he leads; who, with you and the Holy Spirit, lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
5 The next day the Jewish rulers, the Jewish elders, and the teachers of the law met in Jerusalem. 6 Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, John, and Alexander were there. Everyone from the high priest’s family was there. 7 They made Peter and John stand before them. The Jewish leaders asked them: “By what power or authority did you do this?”
8 Then Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit. He said to them, “Rulers of the people and you elders, 9 are you questioning us about a good thing that was done to a crippled man? Are you asking us who made him well? 10 We want all of you and all the Jewish people to know that this man was made well by the power of Jesus Christ from Nazareth! You nailed him to a cross, but God raised him from death. This man was crippled, but he is now well and able to stand here before you because of the power of Jesus! 11 Jesus is
‘the stone[a] that you builders did not want.
It has become the cornerstone.’ Psalm 118:22
12 Jesus is the only One who can save people. No one else in the world is able to save us.”
1 John 3:16-24
16 This is how we know what real love is: Jesus gave his life for us. So we should give our lives for our brothers. 17 Suppose a believer is rich enough to have all that he needs. He sees his brother in Christ who is poor and does not have what he needs. What if the believer does not help the poor brother? Then the believer does not have God’s love in his heart. 18 My children, our love should not be only words and talk. Our love must be true love. And we should show that love by what we do.
19-20 This is the way we know that we belong to the way of truth. When our hearts make us feel guilty, we can still have peace before God. God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.
21 My dear friends, if we do not feel that we are doing wrong, we can be without fear when we come to God. 22 And God gives us the things we ask for. We receive these things because we obey God’s commands, and we do what pleases him. 23 This is what God commands: that we believe in his Son, Jesus Christ, and that we love each other, just as he commanded. 24 The person who obeys God’s commands lives in God. And God lives in him. How do we know that God lives in us? We know because of the Spirit whom God gave us.
11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives his life for the sheep. 12 The worker who is paid to keep the sheep is different from the shepherd who owns them. So when the worker sees a wolf coming, he runs away and leaves the sheep alone. Then the wolf attacks the sheep and scatters them. 13 The man runs away because he is only a paid worker. He does not really care for the sheep.
14 “I am the good shepherd. I know my sheep, and my sheep know me, 15 just as the Father knows me, and I know the Father. I give my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep that are not in this flock here. I must bring them also. They will listen to my voice, and there will be one flock and one shepherd. 17 The Father loves me because I give my life. I give my life so that I can take it back again. 18 No one takes it away from me. I give my own life freely. I have the right to give my life, and I have the right to take it back. This is what my Father commanded me to do.”
I was watching a reality program the other day and the host was working various jobs that were hard or tough to do. This particular job was on a sheep ranch, and as part of the job they had to collect lambs that had just been born and make sure they were feeding, walking and generally just healthy. The rancher told the host about all they had to do for the lambs and sheep to keep them alive. My wife asked me how the sheep survived in the wild before they have ranchers and shepherds to do all these things for them. I simply replied that they don’t survive in the wild. So time for a little history lesson. Domestic sheep have been raised by humans since about 11,000 years ago. That means by the time of Jesus, she had been domesticated for 9000 years. While there are wild animals in the sheep family today, they are not much like the domestic sheep that we get wool from, the same type of sheep that Jesus spoke about so much.
So why did Jesus talk about sheep so much? After all, his father was a carpenter or a laborer, Jesus did not grow up as a shepherd. Well, Jesus talked about a lot of different types of jobs when he was teaching people didn’t he. He told Peter and Andrew, who were fishermen, that he would make them fishers of men. He compared people to potters clay, and even referred to himself as the cornerstone of a building. These were all images and comparisons that the people Jesus was teaching would understand. They were things that the people were familiar with, either through their own daily work, or from seeing others work with them. Jesus may not have grown up the son of a shepherd, but he almost certainly had friends who were shepherds’ sons, and definitely would have seen flocks of sheep being tended, as would the crowds that were gathered.
What these people knew was that sheep, domestic ones anyway, are pretty much reliant on humans for their survival. Sheep had been protected, tended, bred, fed, groomed, and just generally cared for by humans for thousands of years, they had grown completely dependent on humans. It was really up to shepherds to watch over their flocks, to know what each animal looked like and how they acted, to see if one was sick or lost, and if needed to stand between the flock and danger, be it a wolf or a thief. This utter dependence, the need for a shepherd, is something that people who live in cities do not know about. It is assumed that because a dog or a cat can get out of the house and survive, that all animals can, but for sheep this is just not true. Jesus is a shepherd, the good shepherd, because we are all like sheep. We cannot protect ourselves, care for ourselves, or survive without his help.