Many churches throughout the world use a Bible reading schedule called a "lectionary." It's just a fancy word meaning "selected readings." Posts like this reflect on the readings for an upcoming Sunday or other Church holiday, as found in the historic one-year lectionary.
In John 10:11-16, Jesus draws a sharp distinction between the person who is actually responsible for the good and future of a work (the shepherd) and the person who is merely hired to do a job (the hireling). I don’t know quite why this is, but many in our culture seem to have confused the situation, thinking that the bosses/owners/CEO type of people are those who pillage and plunder, leaving everything to go to ruin, as opposed to the lower level employees who supposedly actually know what is best, and will do it.
The leaders, particularly in business and industry, have a vested interest in the long-term well being of their companies. At least they should. After all, if you should run a business which not only can make you financially comfortable or even wealthy, but which also provides for the needs of those you employ, for the good of the community, and delivers good products or services at a fair price, allowing for many others to thrive, there’s a good deal to take pride in. We all know of an employer in our community for which people will say, “That’s a good place to work.” We also know of some that inspires responses such as, “Really, you don’t want to end up there.”
Jesus says that the true shepherd, the one who is responsible for the long-term good of the business (in this case, oviculture), is going to be diligent. He takes it as an assumption which all his listeners would share. The others, who happen to work for the shepherd, will flinch and run away when under pressure. In the final analysis, they don’t do what is best.
Jesus presents himself as the good shepherd. He is the one who lays his life down for his sheep, his people. He is the one who would work from sunup to sundown, and beyond, to care for his people. He is the one who shows mercy and kindness even to those who hate him, who would fight against him. He is the shepherd who insists the sheep get their medicine even when they don’t want to take it. He is the shepherd who interrupts his sheep in their pleasure to bring them to a place of safety when he sees danger approaching.
Have we arrived in a world where the sheep will insist on ruling? I hope not. It will not be a good world. Jesus, the good shepherd, knows what we need and how to guide us to those places we need to be. He gathers us together into one flock, following one shepherd, a shepherd who is able to provide all we need.
If this brief meditation was helpful to you, I hope you will check out the other materials on our website at www.WittenbergCoMo.com and consider supporting us.