“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep. A hired hand will run when he sees a wolf coming. He will abandon the sheep because they don’t belong to him and he isn’t their shepherd. And so the wolf attacks them and scatters the flock. The hired hand runs away because he’s working only for the money and doesn’t really care about the sheep. I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me, just as my Father knows me and I know the Father. So I sacrifice my life for the sheep. I have other sheep, too, that are not in this sheepfold. I must bring them also. They will listen to my voice, and there will be one flock with one shepherd. The Father loves me because I sacrifice my life so I may take it back again. No one can take my life from me. I sacrifice it voluntarily. For I have the authority to lay it down when I want to and also to take it up again. For this is what my Father has commanded.” – John 10:11-18NLT
The first US Presidential election I remember really having any kinds of thought about was when I was in middle school. I remember the controversy in our country at that time, and the middle school rhetoric floating around about who should be president. In retrospect, it was mostly parroting of opinions we heard around our dinner tables at home, as most of us were still rolling dial-up internet from home (if we had it at all). Similar scenes repeated in high school for President Bush’s second term election, perhaps with a little more diverse opinions from our parents, due to increased maturity and high speed internet access.
But the election I really remember was when President Obama was running for his first term. I was on a large, public university campus. The election seemed like the end of the world, with battle lines drawn and angry debates across the quad throughout the spring and fall. There was so much stock placed in what would happen during that election. Both sides predicted the end of America if the opposing candidate took the Oval Office. Each presidential election since then has produced the same kind of language…and I suspect similar ideas were spread in elections long into the past. Those opinions just didn’t have the internet to spread them like wildfire immediately after they were expressed.
We seem to expect so much from our leaders, as though we believe if we can just pick the exact right person, the inevitable spiral of corruption can finally be stopped and even reversed. It’s as though we expect them to save us, to keep the “wolves” at bay and perhaps even lead us to greener pastures. Yet in verse 12 of John 10, Jesus says, “A hired hand will run when he sees a wolf coming. He will abandon the sheep because they don’t belong to him and he isn’t their shepherd. And so the wolf attacks them and scatters the flock.” In other words, the leaders of this world, whomever they are and however they come to lead us, cannot live up to the standards we place upon them. They are doomed to fail to “deliver” us. Under the right conditions, they will break and run, no matter how honorable. They are human. Like all humanity, they have a failure point.
In contrast, Jesus calls Himself the “good shepherd.” Unlike the “hired hands”, He “sacrifices [his] life for the sheep”. And He doesn’t do so out of a sense of obligation or external pressure. Instead, He says, “I sacrifice it voluntarily.” Jesus runs into the danger, offering His life that His sheep may survive.
We are those sheep, and He is the leader in whom we can trust for salvation from the wolves. Presidents and judges, bosses and managers, even pastors and elders…they cannot save. While we can love them and support them and call them to higher service…we cannot trust them to save this world. But we can trust the one who made the world; who crafted it with His own two hands. We can trust the one who “know[s] [his] own sheep.” In other words…the one who knows us inside and out and still choses to step into the wreckage of our lives and fend off Satan and the sin that tears us apart. He is good; He does not give up; and He is coming again.
- What people or things do you tend to put your trust in to make your life better? Make a list.
- Why do you find yourself trusting these people or things?
- Have these people or things always succeeded in earning your trust? Why do you continue to trust them for security if they have failed you?
- Challenge for the week: Spending some time every morning talking to Jesus about why you struggle to trust Him with certain parts of your life. Ask Him to show you how to trust Him more.