“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” (John 10:11) These words of Jesus, taken from the gospel of John, are among the best known of the New Testament. However, what do we understand when Jesus says “I am the good shepherd” ? Through this word, what role does Jesus wish to occupy in the lives of believers?
To be a shepherd is to be the guide and the protector of a herd. Its role is to lead, monitor and provide the necessary care to the animals under its responsibility.
Jesus, presenting himself as the good shepherd, tells us that he knows each of his sheep and gives them everything they need. Jesus is the good shepherd, the one who is really interested in the lives of those who follow him and shows them the right path, the one that leads to life.
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep 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 are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.” (John 10:10-16)
As humans, we have the power to choose who we want to follow. For some, it is the ambitions and the thirst for glory or wealth; for others, it is the opinions of loved ones. When we follow all these things, it is to find a happy life. However, Jesus tells us that he alone is the good shepherd, it means that he knows the way to come to life. When it is Jesus who leads us, he assures us that we will have life, life in abundance and that our joy will be perfect. So we have the choice to listen to his voice and follow him or to continue on the path that seems to us to be the best.