This Sunday our services focus on Jesus as our Good Shepherd from John 10. And in an odd bit of comedic timing, this video popped up in my social media feed. You’ll want to watch it.
I bet you can relate to that sheep as much as I can. And here are a few other timely lessons we can learn from sheep, and from our Good Shepherd.
1. JESUS PROVIDES
It turns out sheep don’t like to drink running water from a stream. They prefer water that is not moving. A shepherd will then take his staff to momentarily dam the river, to create a pool of still water for the sheep to drink. No matter how much your life may feel like a frenzied rush of roaring water, you can find rest, provision, and stillness in the presence of Jesus (Psalm 23:2)
2. JESUS KNOWS YOU BY NAME
In the Ancient Near East, it was not uncommon for shepherds to name their sheep. Much like we name horses, dogs, and cats, shepherds called sheep by name. No matter how lonely or disconnected you might feel, you can listen for the voice of Jesus, who calls you by name and leads you forward. (John 10:3)
3. JESUS IDENTIFIES WITH THE OPPRESSED
Shepherds were despised in Greco-Roman culture. One Jewish midrash on Psalm 23 says, “The pious were forbidden to buy wool, milk or meat from shepherds. Civic privileges were withdrawn from them as from the tax collectors. No position in the world is as despised as that of the shepherd.” As our Good Shepherd, Jesus identifies with any way that you feel downtrodden, oppressed, and helpless.
4. JESUS BECAME THE SACRIFICE
In biblical times, shepherds eventually sacrificed many of their sheep, providing the means through which people could restore their relationship with God in the Temple. Without shepherds, there would be no sheep, and no sacrifice, and restoration with God.
That’s why the most surprising lesson we learn about Jesus as our Good Shepherd comes from John 10:11: “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” Jesus did not lead his sheep to slaughter, but saves his sheep from slaughter. This Good Shepherd does not allow us to die; he came to die in our place.
Join us this Sunday as we continue our worship series as we learn to follow our Good Shepherd.
Grace and Peace,
The Rev. Magrey deVega
Senior Pastor, Hyde Park United Methodist
PRAYER FOR OUR COUNTRY
We join in prayer with others around the country in the wake of the verdict of Derek Chauvin’s trial, in the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis last summer. I offer the following word from my friend and clergy colleague Rev. Tom Berlin, pastor of Floris United Methodist Church in Herndon, Virginia:
The announcement of the verdict in the Chauvin trial is an important moment to me that serves everyone in a society that honors the rule of law. I am grateful for the testimony of police officers about the standards of their practices, the number of eyewitnesses and video that helped the jury understand what happened, and a justice process that includes a jury of peers to both the victim and the defendant and the rest of the community as well. I am grateful for a Judge who upheld the order of legal proceedings and for the ideals of the Judicial branch of our government. There are no real winners here. One man is dead. Another’s life is inexorably changed. Trauma to citizens abounds. But a verdict that arrives after due process has been given and is consistent with the legal standards of the state where George Floyd was killed is critical in a time when we have so much information about the remarkable volume of past injustice towards people of color. The work of justice is ongoing, never-ending work in every society, and tonight I give thanks for those who care about justice and have the courage to ensure it. “Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute,” (Psalm 82:3)