The author of the fourth Gospel, in the passage we read today, places on the lips of Jesus His description of Himself as “The Good Shepherd”.

This metaphorical description of Jesus is a bit unusual for we urban Christians living in 2018. Nevertheless, for ancient rural communities such a metaphor was perfectly understandable.

The image of a shepherd and his sheep was very familiar to the Israelites. It indicated a relationship in which a person cares for, and is devoted to, someone else. In the pre-Christian era it was used by the Jewish people to describe the relationship between God and his chosen people. For example in Psalm 23 we read this: “The Lord is my shepherd and there is nothing that I want”.

The implication of this image is that Jesus is the “Good Shepherd”. With Jesus as our shepherd there is absolutely nothing more we will every need. We have been cared for so magnanimously by the Son of God, Jesus, we, in our turn, have every reason to be magnanimous to each other.

If we really understand what Jesus has done for us, we have no option other than to look after one another. We are invited to care for one another
in the manner that the “Good Shepherd” cares for His sheep.

Rev Fr Tom Stevens