Sacrifice Is The Fruit Of Love
Jesus proclaimed His identity: the Shepherd of Israel. This would have been understood as being the true King of Israel (because the Old Testament prophets rebuked the unfaithful kings for failing to be shepherds: as in Ezekiel chapter 34). The shepherd was not just the authoritative leader and protector of the flock; the shepherd was so responsible that if there was danger, he would risk his own life (1 Samuel 17:34-37).
That sacrificial commitment to the sheep was absent in those who were hired just for a day or a week. They did the job for what they could get out of it - they cared more for themselves than for the sheep. Jesus was speaking about the religious leaders who loved the honour and praise of the people, and the power which they could exert over them, but did not have God's heart of love to sacrifice themselves and their own interests for God's people.
If a parent will sacrifice so much for a child, even being willing to go between the child and any dangerous threat, surely God has an even greater commitment to His people. He proved that when Jesus willingly went to the cross, sacrificing Himself to pay for our sins. But there are still many religious people who like to have the honour and power of their position and yet cannot sacrifice themselves for the souls of their people even if they wanted to. Sacrifice is the fruit of love and that is why Jesus is the Good Shepherd who has laid down His life for the sheep ... because He loves us. What is our response? Firstly, gratitude. Secondly, when He gives us the responsibility to shepherd others in His Name, we must love them and be willing to sacrifice ourselves for them. Anything less is not worthy of Him.
© Dr Paul Adams