The work and the identity of a Shepherd.
John 10 v 22-34
22 Then came the Festival of Dedication at Jerusalem. It was winter, 23 and Jesus was in the temple courts walking in Solomon’s Colonnade. 24 The Jews who were there gathered around him, saying, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.” 25 Jesus answered, “I did tell you, but you do not believe. The works I do in my Father’s name testify about me, 26 but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. 27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.”
The work of Jesus the Shepherd that demonstrated his identity was definitely the miracle before these attacks, the healing of the blind man. A good work attacked by those who were offended in the way and the day it was done.
I have been given many titles in my life. Everything from Pastor, Apostle, Prophet, Father, Priest and the most recent one Daddy! But the titles do not testify about me, my works do, v25. I’m no miracle worker but along with you do the works of God. We are all shepherds in some form or another serving the Good Shepherd. But I have been privileged for it to be my primary profession since 1992. I have found the work to be varied to say the least!
The Bible calls for Shepherds to watch over the Church; to teach and preach the Word of God; to visit people in their homes; to pray for others; to resolve conflicts; pray for the sick; to be a counsellor; to be an advisor; to coach; to mentor; to co-ordinate volunteers; to create and organise events; to fundraise; to recruit people; to write articles; to manage and to represent the Church to the community. In all these works we need miracles and movements of the Holy Spirit.
Can a shepherd be good in all these areas? No. We are not perfect.
But there are times when there isn’t anyone else and so the shepherd does the work and the work testifies who they are.
Where does the complaints against the shepherds focus on? The works.
All under-shepherds are effected when their work is criticised because no matter if people say ‘don’t take this personally’ their work is so tied to their identity, they do.
It is difficult for those shepherds who retire and it has been their profession all their life. When their identity is integrated into the work and the work stops, the question is of course, ‘who am I?’ Leading many to reject the idea that one can retire from ‘ministry’.
There is a way through the complexity of the work and identity which I will hopefully discuss tomorrow because the answer is to be found in the verses we have read.
Being a shepherd is a job like no other! Pray for one today. They need it.