“The good shepherd gives his life for the sheep.”
It is a powerful and familiar image. It speaks to us about care, of course, but it does so in the deeper context of sacrifice. It is about something more, though not less, than hugs and squeezes, far more, though not less, perhaps, than the comforts of pharmacare as wonderful as those can be.
We forget that this image so popular and familiar belongs to the pattern of death and resurrection and the way that pattern informs our lives of sacrifice and service. For centuries upon centuries the Gospel of Christ the Good Shepherd has been read in the Easter Season. Christ, the only Son of God, has been given to us as “both a sacrifice for sin, and also an example of godly life.” These are powerful and profound theological concepts that relate to the quality of our lives in faith. There is something quite suggestive, important and necessary about connecting the image of the Good Shepherd to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
There is the strong theological idea that God can make something good even out of our evil and the philosophical idea that attends it, namely, that the power of the good is always greater than all and any evil.
We forget, I think, that Christ the Good Shepherd is also the Lamb of God. We forget that the care of the Good Shepherd has cure in it, the cure of the radical dis-ease of our souls because we are so wrapped up in ourselves that we no longer know how to live beyond ourselves and for one another. We can’t on the strength of our own power. We can only through the power of Christ living within us. But that means precisely dying to ourselves and living for God and for one another, the very thing that God shows us as belonging to his very nature.