Monday, April 23, 2007

Savior, Like a Shepherd Lead Us...

"My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me."
- John 10:27 (ESV)

"The LORD is my shepherd..."
- Psalm 23:1 (ESV)

This week's lectionary readings refer to the images of sheep and shepherds.

Many Christians are captivated by the image of Jesus as the Good Shepherd. The shepherd, after all, cares for the sheep...leads them to water and guides them to tasty pastures...protects the sheep from danger...shears the sheep of excess wool, helping the sheep to remain healthy and comfortable...and seeks out those sheep who have strayed. What a lovely, warm image, and it contains some precious truths.

But there are other aspects of the shepherd's role we don't like to talk about in polite company.

The shepherd also slaughters the sheep, and the Good Shepherd is no exception. In Biblical times, sheep were slaughtered for both religious sacrifice and food; even shepherds have to eat! Are you an acceptable sacrifice? Or do you taste a bit gamey?

Are we always ready to die? Certainly, some are called to physically die and suffer martyrdom for Christ. But all sheep are called to follow the Shepherd to some kind of slaughter. How is it that the Good Shepherd might be calling you to die (at his hands) today?

Jesus is our Good Shepherd, and we must try and follow his voice, wherever it is he leads us. But we must also remind ourselves that, as Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote in The Cost of Discipleship, "When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die."

Do we really mean it when we gruesomely sing...

"Have thine own way, Lord! Have thine own way!
Hold o'er my being absolute sway..."
(Adelaide Potter, 1902 - UMH 382)


Randy Roda said...

Good thought...when the world calls one a sheep, they mean someone who is easily led, stupid, lacking individuality, doing what the crowd is doing and who is easily taken advantage of.

If that's the case I'll be led, fed and foolish for Jesus Christ!

Randy Roda said...

By the way...Robyn is sooo lucky. You do look sexy in clericals.