Entering into the Goodness of the Shepherd and Allowing the Goodness of the Shepherd to Enter into Us


What makes a shepherd good?   I think this is a fair question.  Jesus answered it very clearly.  The good shepherd is one who is willing to lay down his life for his flock.  Jesus will ultimately do this by the shedding of His blood on the cross for our sins.  He also spoke in today’s Gospel about voice recognition.  He says “my sheep hear my voice.”  That knowing of the voice of the shepherd is important.  As we enter into the goodness of the shepherd, we realize His voice is one of love and gentleness.  It is one of understanding and forgiveness.  The goodness of the shepherd is in contrast to a shepherd who is a hired hand.  Jesus tells us that when a wolf comes, those hired run away and seek their own safety, but the good shepherd will stay and protect his flock.  Beyond the images this evokes is the reality that Jesus lived it out in His own life.  He took upon Himself the sins of the world.  He took upon Himself the sacrifice so that we could have union with the heavenly Father forever.  Goodness comes from the truth of the shepherd.  He spoke it and lived it.


Do we feel we are good?  Do we doubt that a Savior could love us?  Allowing the goodness of the Shepherd to enter into us is a difficult challenge.  In our core, we sometimes struggle to believe we are forgiven.  When Jesus told the story about the lost sheep and He said the shepherd would go and find the lost one, He was speaking to each one of us.  This may be hard for us to accept, yet to allow the goodness of the Shepherd we must allow ourselves to get found in the sin of our lives.  We must allow ourselves to be found even in all of the messiness and everything that makes us feel unworthy and makes us doubt that we can be forgiven.  Even in this place, the goodness of the Shepherd can pick us up, lead us home and actually carry us home.  The goodness of the Shepherd is pure and divine; the goodness of the Shepherd is perfect goodness.  This goodness, when it enters us, changes us forever.  When the grace of forgiveness is enabled to take hold, we can run to the voice of the shepherd and know we are loved and we are home.

In my office I have a few carvings of the Good Shepherd.  One is from my travels to Israel and one is from the missions.  Both show Jesus carrying the sheep on His shoulders.  For me, these carvings are powerful.  They remind me I am found, I am loved and I am forgiven.

May we all allow ourselves to stay still long enough for the goodness of the Shepherd to carry us to our eternal and heavenly Father.

Reverend  John J. Ouper