Road to Easter — Week 4

Mar 20

Would you willingly sacrifice your own life in order to save the life of a smelly, stupid, four-legged, bleating, trash-eating mound of wool?  I am not talking about a sweet Easter-basket dwelling, glorified stuffed-animal version of a sheep but the real deal.  It sounds laughable until you remember that in God’s economy comparing us to sheep is extremely generous.  We are the sheep, and Jesus is our shepherd and to say that we have gone astray is an understatement.  And yet, not only does that shepherd find us and lead us to wherever we need to go, but ultimately, he does the unthinkable, giving up his infinitely more valuable life in order to save ours, stupid sheep that we are.

 

This fourth week of Lent, the topic is: “I am the Door and the Good Shepherd…Jesus as Leader and Protector”.

 

I am the good shepherd.  I know my own and my own known me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father.  And I lay down my life for the sheep.” — John 10:14-15

 

(+ John 10:1-18)

 

{James as a would-be shepherd — Claremont (Pomona), CA 2009}

 

I’ve only had a few experiences with sheep in recent years, one was at the Farmer’s Market in Claremont, CA, which was near Casa Colina.  James was always attracted to the petting zoo, and despite our attempts at “shepherding” him to other areas, we wanted to give him the experience of these animals up close and personal, in hopes that the intense smell would prevent him from ever wanting one as a pet in his future years.  We’ll see if it made a lasting impression.  Anyway, during that extremely heavy time in our lives, the interactions with the sheep somehow always provided some levity.  These little guys just could not have been much dumber or more comical–literally falling into the feed buckets, trying to climb on top of each other, chewing on children’s hair, and of course, using the bathroom in any and every undesired place.

 

As I read this passage today, I can’t help but be reminded at how the Lord must often view us, as so dirty and ridiculous and yet somehow smile-inducing and even quite precious.  Nonetheless, I could not ever really fathom giving my life so that the life of a sheep could be spared.  Thankfully, the Lord finds our inherent value to be worth saving.

 

{Me as a would-be shepherd — Pomona, CA 2009}

 

Not to compare my wife and child to sheep, but perhaps in my own way, I was given the opportunity to glimpse the perspective of the shepherd as I led my family through a time where they were basically as vulnerable as sheep.  Clearly it’s not quite as hard for me to imagine laying down my life for them because I gladly would, and maybe I did, to a certain degree.  I’m hardly a “Good Shepherd”, and I know I have not always led my little flock in the most perfect way, but I have been given the chance to sacrifice in a way that has enabled life for my flock.  My shepherding experience might be hard to relate to for some, almost like the shepherd’s sacrifice for his sheep, and yet we are all called to recognize our ongoing place as the sheep while always striving to give all of ourselves to our flock, like the shepherd.

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