The Good Shepherd
During my years at seminary, I was very poor and always looking for work to earn money. I was very fortunate to get hired on with a landscaper.
My first day on the job we went to the house of a retired physician. This guy was a serious gardener and took a lot of pride in his yard. Our job was to move a huge mountain of wood chips and put them all over the hill behind his house. The work was hard, and I wasn’t used to the heavy lifting. I thought I was going to die.
As this retired doctor gardened with his golf gloves on suddenly he looked over at me and said, “What is your name again?” “Chuck,” I said. “Well, Chuck, if you step on one more flower I’m going to kill you.” I looked down and sure enough there was a sad flower bent under my hiking boot.
I was no gardener. I cared nothing for his flowers. I was very ignorant about plants at that time. But a true gardener knows his plants. They can see instantly what is a weed and what is a flower. They know them all because they planted them all, they care for them and never would step on one. I was clumsy and couldn’t tell the difference between weed and plant.
Jesus illustrates this as well talking about the difference between the shepherd and the hired hand. The hired hand cares nothing for the sheep but abandons them at trouble. The shepherd loves his sheep and would even lay down his life to save them.
God knows us, cares for us, and watches over us. He knows us each by name. Our job then is to also know his voice and understand the difference between the shepherd and the thief who only comes to steal kill or destroy. Jesus wants to lead us because he knows each one of us, and we are to respond faithfully to the voice of the good shepherd.