“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 is not the owner of 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 is not concerned about the sheep. I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd. For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again. No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father.”
Granted, this picture may just look like some sort of cave to you. However, it is a sheepfold in Israel. A sheepfold that protects sheep, and there in front, in the open is where the shepherd would reside. He would protect his sheep from animals, thieves and prevent them from wandering away, away from the shepherd's safety.
A good shepherd will lead his flock, they will know his voice and they will follow at the sound of it. A hireling, the hired hand, walks behind the flock. He uses force to get the sheep to move, and the sheep do not know his voice. The hireling will not protect them and will certainly not risk his life for them.
We have one, a Good Shepherd, who beckons us, "Come, follow me." The Good Shepherd who longs to protect those who are wandering alone, those who have gone astray, those falling prey to evil's grasp. This Good Shepherd who chose to be the sacrifice in order to rescue the flock.
That is the God whom I serve.
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