Our verses this week in John 10 paint a vivid picture of Jesus as the Shepherd taking care of us and protecting us from the dangers in life. Since most of us, other than Jim and Jennifer Rewis, don’t keep sheep any more, we can relate this to the way we treat our pets.
We make sure our dog and cat family members have nutritious food, warm beds and the love and attention they need. We do our best to keep them out of the road and to make sure they are safe in the house or yard. Other than a cat who might catch a mouse for a snack, our pets, like the sheep in John’s passage, are totally dependent on us to survive. And when something bad happens to one of them, we grieve.
Out in the country where I live I often hear coyotes howling at night. When my little cat prowled in the woods behind our house, I was always afraid one of them would snatch him up and kill him. We also have dangers around us that want to pull us away from God. We read in I Peter 5:8 (The Living Bible):
Be careful—watch out for attacks from Satan, your great enemy. He prowls around like a hungry, roaring lion, looking for some victim to tear apart.
These attacks are often subtle – the immoral messages that come through the TV shows and movies we watch, the constant barrage of advertisements for us to live beyond our means, the pull of so many activities away from church. But like a gate, Christ is there as a barrier to keep us safe, because He loves us.
Wedged in between these wonderful verses about Jesus as our Good Shepherd, is one of my favorite verses in the Bible:
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. (John 10:10, RSV)
This verse sums up the Gospel to me – when I give myself over completely to Christ, my life becomes richer, fuller and more joyful. Instead of worrying about what attacks may come, I am able to rest in comfort and enjoy all the gifts He has given me, knowing Jesus is going to look after me.
Dear God, thank you for your love and protection in our lives and in the lives of those we love. Help us today to relax in that love and to experience the abundant life you desire for us to have. Amen.