I am the good shepherd. I know my own, and my own know me, just as the Father knows me, and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. -John 10:14-16
Dear members and friends,
The term “shepherd” was very special for the people in ancient Mesopotamia since the Sumerians built the first walled cities. The ancient Mesopotamians believed that the role of a shepherd to his sheep was the figurative role of the king to his people. As we know, Abraham is from Ur, the capital city of the last Sumerian kingdom, and the figurative role of shepherd is vividly expressed in the Old Testament. In Hebrew, the word that is translated as “shepherd” could also be translated as “to pasture.” The English word pasture is defined as “land covered with grass and other low plants suitable for grazing animals, especially cattle or sheep.” With these definitions, we could reach the conclusion that a shepherd in the Bible meant the person who is protecting the cattle or sheep while they graze!
In John 10, Jesus reveals a very inspiring truth about himself by saying, “I am the good shepherd.” According to Jesus, the qualification to be a good shepherd is to be willing “to lay one’s life for the sheep.” This is very inspiring for two reasons: 1. As the good shepherd, Jesus would provide all of us equal and fair opportunities for spiritual renewal and fulfillment; 2. Jesus would not do or even intend anything that would be harmful to humans. Having this in mind, I deeply lament all those Christian dogmas and theologies that hurt people rather than comfort them. The historical truth regarding those ideas is that they were written by men for themselves and their own gain, and definitely not for God or for the people.
In John 10, Jesus emphasizes the truth, “there will be one flock, one shepherd.” However, those who will be in the flock of Jesus should meet one condition: they are able to “listen to his voice.” As we know, there is a big difference between hearing and listening. Listening to the voice of Jesus means lowering one’s own voice in order to understand and acknowledge his voice. And what is Jesus saying? It is the same thing from the very beginning: “you should love your neighbor as you love yourself.”
My brothers and sisters in God, in light of the recent natural disaster in Turkey, let us have all the victims, their families, and their loved ones in our prayers. Then, let us find a way to support and help them as our Lord Jesus teaches us.
Blessings, Rev. Junchol Lee