“I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd puts the sheep before himself, sacrifices himself if necessary.” – John 10
Have you ever stopped to watch the ants work in and out of an ant hill? They way they selflessly follow each other in and out. Either taking sand out of the hill or bringing food items in – they are always following one another. Even more fascinating is when they get into your house and the follow the leader they create up and down your walls and across your floor. Back and forth in perfect unison. Amazing actually. How they distinguish each other, their jobs, and know exactly how to get back home again.
We have now reached chapter 10 in John. This story is broken into two parts. It is called He Calls His Sheep by Name and today I use the word follow to describe it. This story is Jesus describing to the people exactly who he is using a simple story of the shepherd and the sheep.
“I’ll be explicit, then. I am the Gate for the sheep. All those others are up to no good – sheep stealers, every one of them. But the sheep didn’t listen to them. I am the Gate. Anyone who goes through me will be cared for – will freely go in and out, and find pasture. A thief is only there to steal and kill and destroy. I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of.
“I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd puts the sheep before himself, sacrifices himself if necessary…”I am the Good Shepherd. I know my own sheep and my own sheep know me. In the same way, the Father knows me and I know the Father. I put the sheep before myself, sacrificing myself if necessary. You need to know that I have other sheep in addition to those in this pen. I need to gather and bring them, too. They’ll also recognize my voice. Then it will be one flock, one Shepherd.”
This is a pretty scary world right now that we are living in. COVID-19 and all that comes with it. I take personal comfort in the first part of this story. Jesus is telling us exactly who he is: he is the good shepherd. He will care for us, protect us, and guide us. We are a part of his flock and we can safely follow him. He knows our name and calls us by it. He wants us to follow him.
This week as things get fired up around our country over COVID-19, we can be like the ants and follow selflessly those running around in fear. We can go back and forth over the fear based what ifs. But those ants will never lead us back home. Following those ants will lead us to further anxiety and will destroy our peace of mind.
Or this week we can be like the sheep and follow selflessly those running after Jesus. He will care for our fears, protect us in our fears, and guide us through our fears. We are his flock and following him will lead us home. He will call us by our name and love us through this crisis. He is the Good Shepherd and I will follow him for peace amongst the chaos. I will follow him home.