By Christin Ditchfield Lazo

A Reading from the Gospel of John 10:1-18

1 “Very truly, I tell you, anyone who does not enter the sheepfold by the gate but climbs in by another way is a thief and a bandit. 2The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. 3The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4When he has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. 5They will not follow a stranger, but they will run from him because they do not know the voice of strangers.” 6Jesus used this figure of speech with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them. 7So again Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. 8All who came before me are thieves and bandits; but the sheep did not listen to them. 9I am the gate. Whoever enters by me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. 10The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. 

11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12The 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. 13The hired hand runs away because a hired hand does not care for the sheep. 14I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep. 16I 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. 17For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. 18No 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.”

Meditation

The disciples just didn’t get it. So Jesus said it again — and again — and again. He used (what would have been to them) familiar imagery and illustrations from daily life, so they could see. He wanted to prepare them for what was coming and help them understand its deeper meaning.

Jesus was about to be arrested and crucified. In a matter of days, he was going to die. He knew this. He wanted his friends to know that he knew — and that it was his choice. It wasn’t an epic surprise, a catastrophic collision of fates, or merely the tragic unraveling of circumstances beyond human control.

No, it was his deliberate, purposeful, sacrificial choice, to lay down his life, every day, and to the very end. Jesus put himself in the hands of his Father, and nothing is out of the Father’s control.

He called himself “The Good Shepherd” and explained why he would die: to rescue and protect his sheep — his people — from the evil one. No matter what it took, he would save them and heal them and restore them, to bring them safely into the fold! There they would find true love, true joy, true peace, true life.

Jesus also wanted them — and us — to know his motivation. It wasn’t a sense of duty or obligation. He wasn’t going to suffer and die because it was his “job.” As he pointed out, you can’t pay someone enough for that. Hired hands don’t care that much.

But he does. Because we belong to him. We are his. He knows us. And we know him. We have learned to recognize his voice — the voice of Love. And we follow him, wherever he leads us. Even to Calvary.

Christin Ditchfield Lazo, Th.M., is a best-selling author, conference speaker, and syndicated radio host, passionate about calling believers to a deeper life of faith.

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Daily Devotional Cycle of Prayer

Today we pray for:

The Diocese of Ballarat (Anglican Church of Australia)
Saint James School, Hagerstown, Md.