The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. -John 10:10-12 NRSV
I wonder if folks hearing Jesus speak these words were reminded of the Shepherd of Psalm 23? Did they understand that David's divine shepherd, the restorer of souls, stood before them? Could they have imagined how he would lay down his life? When I think of Jesus as my shepherd, my mind flashes back to a vision I had in 1993. Here is my story.
At thirty-nine years old my first wife, Ellen, had heart and kidney failure. At the brink of her death I found myself begging God to not let her die. I could not accept her situation or the possibility of her death. Three and a half years later after praying almost daily for her healing I found myself again faced with the possibility of her dying. Driving to work one day, racked with the agony of thoughts of a world without Ellen, I began to pray. I saw a picture in my mind. In this vision I saw myself standing on a mountain looking down at a valley. Somehow I knew it was the valley of the shadow of Ellen's death. As I looked into the vision I saw Jesus come to my side, take my hand, and walk with me into the valley. It was a comforting picture. God was trying to tell me that he would be with me when Ellen died and that I would be okay.Jesus is the good shepherd. He promises to be with us both in sunny green pastures and in dark valleys. The presence of this Good Shepherd comforts and encourages me yet today. I pray that you will sense his presence today.
... this devotion is part of an ongoing series on the Gospel of John.