The Good Shepherd: Part Two
In part one, we explored some of the themes of the Good Shepherd parable throughout the Old and New Testaments. Today, let's touch on three reflections of the parable:
To most of us, the job of shepherding if completely foreign. And yet, when told well, a simple story of a lost sheep and a loving shepherd can bring us to tears. We see ourselves as the helpless sheep, lost in the wilderness, crying out in desperation for he shepherd (repentance). The Good Shepherd seeks the lost by entering the wilderness (incarnation) and pays a high price to get the sheep back (atonement). When this happens, there is restoration, joy, and celebration in heaven.
As the picture above shows, a sheep pen is a roofless structure made of stones that keep the sheep in and the wolves out. Sheep pens are scattered throughout the countryside as shepherds move from place to place seeking grazing lands far from home. With no door, the only vulnerable spot is the entrance. And this is where the shepherd will sleep. The shepherd literally becomes the door. Consider this picture as you read what Jesus says in John 10: "Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep." And again, "I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture."
Have you ever wondered if it was sensible for a shepherd to leave the entire flock to save a single lost sheep? Isn't it too risky to leave 99 to save one? While we may be burdened by this dilemma, the Good Shepherd is not. By going after the one, he gives the rest of the flock an incredible sense of security. The flock is reassured that if they should get lost, the Good Shepherd will come after them too. Alternatively, if the shepherd does not go after the one, then the 99 will live in constant fear of getting lost because if they do, they're as good as dead. Perhaps this is a picture of a works-based faith in which salvation is up to the sheep and not the shepherd. But the story of the Good Shepherd is not at all about the resilience of the sheep. It's about the unmerited, costly love of the Good Shepherd.
- Brian Causey, Teleios Board Member