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The Good Shepherd and the Bad Ones

John 10:9-11 "I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. "The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.

In John 10, Jesus uses a well known Old Testament image to portray His relationship with His people, for Yahweh as the Shepherd of Israel is a major theme (Gen 49:24; Psalm 23:1; Psalm 78:52-53; Isaiah 40:10-11). Old Testament leaders were also described as shepherds, some of them good (i.e., Moses, Numbers 27:15-18; David, 2 Sam 5:2-4), but many of them bad (Ezek 34).

In Jesus’ own day, there were a number of rather bad shepherds, the foremost of whom were the Sadducees and the Pharisees. More particularly we see a very clear example of poor shepherding when the Jewish leaders cast the man out of the synagogue in John 9. These false shepherds were in positions of authority for one reason and that was to serve their own interests at the expense of those over whom they ruled. Jesus calls such leaders “thieves and robbers” who set out to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:8-10). Those types of leaders were themselves blind, as Jesus clearly implied in John 9:41).

We see alarming examples of this type of "shepherding" in our own day. Hypocritical governors impose arbitrary regulations (called "executive orders") upon the citizens of their state regarding the COVID crisis but neglect to keep their own rules (consider especially Michigan and California). The city of Chicago has had some pretty lousy mayors, but the current one tops the list. On her watch, hundreds of lives have been lost due to shootings. The governor of New York is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of elderly people in his own state. The mayor of New York City is so feckless and incompetent that he can't walk and chew gum at the same time. We have a "president" who has no regard for the safety of the citizens he is supposed to protect by letting people flow into the country illegally from the south. Some are criminals and terrorists. Cities de-fund police departments for political reasons, leaving their citizens defenseless! We could multiply other examples over and over again. Unless we elect leaders with the hearts of true shepherds, our country will quickly pass from history.

However, our great encouragement comes from the unassailable truth that our Lord in heaven is the Good Shepherd. He demonstrated that by giving His life for His sheep. His loving oversight over their welfare is His main concern, for He knows each of them by name. He gives abundant life to them. He binds up their wounds. He heals their diseases. He forgives their sin. He provides for their every need. He watches over them for their good. He protects them from all manner of harm by warding off all predators. He leads them to places of abundance and prosperity. Praise God for such a wonderful Lord!

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