Rev. Rosemary Webb
7th May 2017
Jesus is our Good Shepherd

When I drive passed a flock of sheep I have to admit that I sometimes wonder why Christ equates us with them, not because I feel insulted but perhaps the opposite. They seem to understand the need to stay together, occasionally one or two may wander off but they seem to enjoy being together and when the shepherd calls they respond, because they know what is good for them.

I know I have said it on more than one occasion but as a child when I was staying with my granny in Scotland I used to love going to Sheepdog trials. I was fascinated by the way man, dog and sheep would work together, listening for the slightest command and then responding. The sheep might at times be a little slow but they did respond, they knew the shepherd was their guide and helper, they knew they needed the shepherd, that without him they would suffer.

In the Gospel reading we hear how the good shepherd is not only determined to protect his flock but also will lead them to the finest pastures.

Again and again in the Gospels Jesus equates us with lost sheep reminding us that God never stops loving us even when we turn away from him, when we become a lost sheep. Just as a shepherd will spend hours seeking for that one sheep which was lost, so God will never stop calling our name, will always hope that we will turn back to him, hear his voice and feel his love. For no matter how many times we stray from the path, no matter how often we give in to temptation God will always seek us out, wait for us and celebrate when we return to the fold.

Life is full of temptation, the media can make us think that all we need for happiness is money; so often if I ask a small boy what they would like to be they respond a footballer, but when I ask why, sadly it is more often that they will be rich rather than they are keen on playing football! Of course we need money to live on, but money alone doesn’t bring happiness.

One of the really interesting things about sheep is that like other animals they learn the voice of their shepherd, and once they have learned his voice they will not respond to another voice, they will not follow a stranger. They know that their shepherd cares for them, they trust him for they know that no one cares for them like he does. Isn’t that something we need to know not only for ourselves but also to teach others. Jesus is the only voice we should listen to.

The passage also warns us how thieves and robbers will try to find a way into the sheepfold, they will climb over the fence or hedge. They know the sheep do not belong to them, but they want to lead them astray, lead them to where wolves and other animals are laying low waiting for their opportunity to leap forward and devour them.

This Jesus said, is the same as people who try to lead others astray in their faith, they come with tempting promises, they tempt with words which sound believable but which are lies, they make promises they cannot keep – they are today’s false prophets. They have come not to bring us salvation but to bring themselves adulation, they want to be our false hero. But sadly we never learn when people shout loudly, ooze wealth they are tempters, still today so many are impressed, we do not always spot the falseness of their message. We know that Jesus wept over Jerusalem how he must weep for us still.

Jesus, the Good Shepherd, came to give us life, a life which we gain by entering into a full and loving relationship with him. To do this we have to give up earthly temptations, love God with all our hearts, love our neighbours and proclaim the glory of his kingdom.

Earlier I said how the good shepherd will not only protect his flock but lead them to good pastures, and so Christ came to protect us in our earthly life and then also to lead us into the good pastures of heaven. He came, was prepared to suffer for us, so that we might have salvation, and still people do not believe. What more do we want him to do?

Jesus said ‘I came so that they could have life – yes, and have it full to overflowing’, that was his message and is still his message.

John 10: 1-10