The more you have invested in a project, the more
committed you tend to be. This would be true if you
had a large financial investment in a company or
organisation or a personal commitment to the people
involved. This feature is particularly noticeable when someone
owns a business, as opposed to merely being employed
by it. Although an employee may be extremely
committed, the mere fact of ownership probably ups
the stakes that much more, with the knowledge that
changing job means not just moving on, but closing
down. Again, for the employee, when the situation
becomes really difficult, the willingness to stay and make
sacrifices may- be judged to be too costly and the right
thing to do is to seek a more sensible position. The
owner, however, is much more likely to try, at all costs,
to maintain the business.
It is this distinction which Jesus makes between the
hired hand and the shepherd. It is not that he is
criticising the hired hand; more that he is illustrating
how committed he is as a Shepherd to us, his sheep.
He describes himself as the owner of the sheep,
knowing each one, and being the means by which sheep
find good food. Ultimately he is prepared to give his
life to protect and rescue those that he owns. It’s
workplace language from a rural society and another
era but the dynamic is the same.
Whatever you face in work today, there is an owner,
manager and mentor figure in your life who is so
committed to your wellbeing that he is prepared to
give his life for you. He will fight for your protection
when you are threatened, He knows you so well that
he is aware of your needs and he knows the business
of shepherding. In fact, he’s very good at it. Nothing
you face today will be too hard for him to enable you
to come through it. He has far too much invested in
you to pull out.
1″I tell you the truth, the man who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. 2The man who enters by the gate is the shepherd of his sheep. 3The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. 5But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.” 6Jesus used this figure of speech, but they did not understand what he was telling them. 7Therefore Jesus said again, “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. 8All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. 9I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture. 10The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
11″I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12The hired hand is not the shepherd who owns 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. 13The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. 14″I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me– 15just as the Father knows me and I know the Father–and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16I 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. 17The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life–only to take it up again. 18No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.” 19At these words the Jews were again divided. 20Many of them said, “He is demon-possessed and raving mad. Why listen to him?” 21But others said, “These are not the sayings of a man possessed by a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?”
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