Bansfield BeneficeDiocese of St Edmundbury & IpswichChurch of England Benefice Scenes Benefice Scenes Benefice Scenes Benefice Scenes

Church News Volume 3, Issue 7

Dear friends,

Jesus says "I am the Good Shepherd"

Perhaps because we live in such a mechanical age, where so many functions are taken over by machines and computers, is why the picture of the Good Shepherd has such an appeal. We look back to the days of pastoral simplicity when life was, we may like to believe, so much less complicated, so much more attractive. Even today in many parts of the country we can still see flocks of sheep with young lambs in the green pastures.

It all looks very happy, but ask any shepherd and he or she will soon tell of how hard the work involved in look after sheep still is! The Palestinian shepherd had fierce animals to contend with, the wolves we read of in the Gospels, always ready to sneak in and snatch away unwary lambs or a straggling sheep.

In the Bible the people of God are often spoken of as sheep. That doesn't mean that God regards His people as silly, but that we need a leader, a shepherd to care for us and lead us.

The Lord is my Shepherd says the Psalm, He is the one who knows His sheep. The Palestinian shepherd does not walk behind his flock from pasture to pasture; and knows each individual animal and its ways and temperament. Each is a precious investment, and not one is to be lost or stolen or strayed, if the shepherd can prevent it.

On the other hand, a hired shepherd will obviously not be so concerned about the flock as will the man who actually owns the sheep. Here is the distinction which Jesus makes when He talks of Himself as The Good Shepherd.

"I am the Good Shepherd" said Jesus, "and I lay down my life for the sheep."

His words remind us of His laying down His life on the cross Jesus was foretelling His crucifixion; but we must also remember that He foretold His resurrection. He was not simply a martyr, in the sense of giving His life in an attempt to protect the flock-He was saying that He was the eternal Good Shepherd. Through His suffering on the cross, He was raised and glorified by the power of His Father, to become filled with new life and to be the perpetual 'Head Shepherd' as St. peter says in his letter. Jesus "holds dominion for ever and ever."

It is this that enables Jesus to say "All that the Father has given me will come to me" (John 6:36) and that there will be one day, one flock and one shepherd.

The meaning is simply that Jesus is Lord of all humanity, that all souls have been entrusted to Him by the Father. In that wonderful world to come, all our divisions will be swept away; there will no longer be different parties, different churches, different organisations. We will then be able to understand, as we are unable to understand now, just what are God's loving intentions for us. We shall indeed find safe pasturage; and although we may have had to traverse the valley of the shadow of death, our true Good Shepherd will indeed be with us, to be our guide and our comfort.

May I wish you all a very happy Easter.

Rev.Ian M. Finn

News Letter Archive.

Last Modified Wednesday 25 May 2011