“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. (John 10v11-13)
I took this photo four years ago. It was at the start of the 100 year commoration of the First World War and a ceramic red poppy was placed in the moat area around the Tower of London to represent each life lost during that conflict. A truly poignant pictorial representation of all the lives lost.
On the day I attended, the approximate count of poppies placed was somewhere in the region of 800,000 with more to be added. Can you imagine it? Eight hundred thousand people dead? Each one with parents, siblings, spouse and friends, all left to grieve their violent passing. A terrible tragedy affecting millions upon millions of people. (Even worse, the war to end all wars did not do as predicted with 45 wars more wars since that time).
So what has all of this to do with Jesus as the good shepherd?
Well, the Christian belief is that Jesus has won a battle that makes people free from the shackles of death, decay and darkness. Long before young men and women were cut down in the prime of life, Jesus came to earth to die and be resurrected, determined that the wolf should not have the final victory over humanity. Hence, Jesus’ response to the dying thief on the cross who petitions him to show favour after he dies. Jesus’ reply answers the ageless question of what exists after death:
“Truly I tell you: today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23v47)