Good Shepherds in the model of Christ

I’ve been reading through John lately.  I love John’s perspective on Jesus.  All the authors of the gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) emphasize different aspects of Jesus’ life and ministry.  In John we find themes like the word, light, and love.  For John Jesus was light and love and contrasted this with the religious leaders of his day.

He addresses these leaders directly on more than one occasion.  Here is one

"I tell you the solemn truth, the one who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs in some other way, is a thief and a robber. The one who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. The doorkeeper opens the door for him, and the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought all his own sheep out, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they recognize his voice. They will never follow a stranger, but will run away from him, because they do not recognize the stranger’s voice." Jesus told them this parable, but they did not understand what he was saying to them. So Jesus said to them again, "I tell you the solemn truth, I am the door for the sheep. All who came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the door. If anyone enters through me, he will be saved, and will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come so that they may have life, and may have it abundantly. "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand, who is not a shepherd and does not own sheep, sees the wolf coming and abandons the sheep and runs away. So the wolf attacks the sheep and scatters them. Because he is a hired hand and is not concerned about the sheep, he runs away. "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 come from this sheepfold. I must bring them too, and they will listen to my voice, so that there will be one flock and one shepherd. This is why the Father loves me — because I lay down my life, so that I may take it back again. No one takes it away from me, but I lay it down of my own free will. I have the authority to lay it down, and I have the authority to take it back again. This commandment I received from my Father."
(Joh 10:1-18 NET.)

At first this parable can be kind of confusing because Jesus is two different things in the parable.  He is the good shepherd and He is the door (or the gate).  There is a lot here to consider.  Jesus is addressing the Pharisees and some metaphors work at more than one level.  At one level he is addressing the Pharisees directly.  At another he is giving us principles we can apply throughout the ages.

Jesus contrasts good shepherds, thieves and hirelings.  All those leaders that came before Him were robbers and thieves.  In one sense this is because Jesus is the door.  Before Jesus there was no door.  Now for us Jesus is the door.  A good shepherd will enter through the door.  They will point people to Christ.  They lead the people through the door, through Christ to find pasture.  The thief has no intention of leading people to Christ, just to steal, kill and destroy.  The hireling may indeed offer some comfort and guidance to the sheep until a greater threat emerges.  When the hireling faces a choice between protecting him or herself and those of the sheep they abandon the sheep.  A good shepherd will lay down their lives for sheep.

Is your pastor a good shepherd in the model of Christ, a thief or a hireling?

Good shepherd in the model of Christ False shepherd
Leads you to Christ Leads you circles and takes advantage of you
Listens to the voice of Christ with you Forces you to listen to them
Calls you  gently.  You respond because you feel safe, and loved and you trust the pastor. Drives the you around through fear, manipulation and force.  Expressions of love are proven empty
Is concerned about all the “sheep.”  Shows care and concern for each person based on their inherent worth in Christ Abandons the people that aren’t with the program, stubborn or wounded
Leads you to life in Christ Sucks the life out of you
Knows and cares for each of the people.  In turn the people know the character and integrity of the pastor. Doesn’t care to know anyone that doesn’t further their agenda.  People have no clue what the pastor is really like.
Will risk conflict and will sacrifice themselves for you Will abandon you at the first sign of trouble. 

Things to consider:

  • Are you being lead to Christ?
  • Are lead to hear the voice of Christ directly?
  • Are you being lead gently or harshly?  Are you treated unsparingly?
  • Are church members abandoned or ostracized when they have problems that prevent them from participating fully?
  • Do you have more life in Christ or less?
  • Does your leader know you?  Do you know the leader or is just a game of appearances?
  • Are you being taken advantage of to further a religious  or personal agenda?
  • Will you leader stick up for you and abandon you when they conflict arises?