Jesus said, “Very truly, I tell you, anyone who does not enter the sheepfold by the gate but climbs in by another way is a thief and a bandit. The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. They will not follow a stranger, but they will run from him because they do not know the voice of strangers.” Jesus used this figure of speech with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.
So again Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and bandits; but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate. Whoever enters by me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” John 10:1-10
I was thinking back a few years when I had the opportunity to go to the family sheep camp with my friend Cornelia. One little lamb had a very crooked back and his mother refused to nurse him. Cornelia took an old coke bottle, filled it with milk and handed me the lamb and the bottle. I got to feed him who was all of a few days old. I marveled at how they cared for these sheep, even when the mother rejected a little one, they did everything they could. A while later, when visiting again, I found out his back was fine and he was healthy and spry.
Jesus talks about who he is to a culture that would understand all his metaphors. Sheep were embedded in their daily life and were a precious commodity. Jesus is the one who will give us abundant life, we seek us out when we are wandering, doing foolish things, and even nurture us to health when the whole world and all our loved ones have turned their backs on us. The good shepherd, who loves us so well and has laid done his life for each and everyone of us.
Today, I ask God to help me be full of the knowledge that I belong to God and we are each known by name. May we live with abundance and generosity, knowing we are cared for by a great shepherd who loves us all, no matter how far we wander.