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The Good Shepherd

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
- John 10:11

Imagine a lion leaping over the wall of the sheep pen. Its mane is matted with dirt and sweat. The lion tears into the flock. The hired hands run away. They scramble out of the pen. But the good shepherd runs toward the lion. He tries to scare the lion away first (because a good shepherd isn’t a crazy shepherd). And if the lion won’t leave, the good shepherd will fight for the sheep.

A hired hand runs away when trouble arises because a hired hand can always look for another job. The life of the sheep isn’t worth much to the hired hand. But a good shepherd stands firm. He stays with his sheep, even in the face of danger because his life and his livelihood are tied to his sheep. If they don’t make it, he doesn’t make it.

Jesus is our Good Shepherd. He doesn’t run away from us when the going gets tough. He stands with us. When we are attacked, he’s attacked. When we suffer, he suffers. And he takes the worst of it on himself.

We who live under the shepherd’s watchful care don’t fully know the lengths the good shepherd has gone to in order to protect us. We sleep and miss his night watches. We eat and don’t notice his skipped meals. We ride on his shoulders when we’re injured and don’t see the wound on his heel. Every day the good shepherd cares for us at his own expense, knowing that we’ll never fully understand or appreciate what he does for us. And he’s okay with that.

Our good shepherd gave up heavenly privilege for us. He faced mockery and isolation for us. He died on the cross for us. He conquered sin and death and the devil for us. He lives today to the glory of God and we benefit from all of it.

Take a moment today to list out ways that you know Jesus has given up his life for you. Use what you know about his life and look for ways he sacrificed comfort and privilege. Make a list. And, at the end of the list, write “And more than I’ll ever know.” Keep those words near you today to fuel your gratitude for him.

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