The good shepherd lays down his life ...

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.

Jesus paints such a stark picture here. It is hard to read about the contrast of shepherd and hired hand and not think about King David when he was just a boy. Consider what he said to King Saul just before he fought the giant Goliath:
“Your servant used to keep sheep for his father. And when there came a lion, or a bear, and took a lamb from the flock, I went after him and struck him and delivered it out of his mouth. And if he arose against me, I caught him by his beard and struck him and killed him. Your servant has struck down both lions and bears, and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be like one of them, for he has defied the armies of the living God.”
When I read this and think of what it takes to lay down your life I think about courage. Often this quality is not considered when we speak of laying down our lives. I don't know about you but I sometimes define faith in very safe terms. Yet in these passages we see that faith is really not safe at all. I sometimes think that "risk" is the best synonym for faith.

To lay down your life.. to deny yourself and your safety.. is to risk the familiar for the unknown. To lay down our lives means that we lay down our reputation, our relationships and sometimes our livelihood for the sake of another. When we lay down our lives there is no assurance that things will be the same afterwards. It is an issue of genuine faith.

I want a safe faith Lord. Help me to embrace the courage of genuine faith.

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