Jesus is the good shepherd. He lays down his life for the sheep when the wolf comes to snatch them. He dies for us to give us eternal life.
In John 10, Jesus describes a scene that is almost a competition between the shepherd and the world, Jesus and Satan, over the sheep. Jesus fights the wolf, and he gathers the sheep into one flock.
Today, Jesus sends his under-shepherds to point the sheep to the one, true shepherd. But the wolf and the hired hands can cause problems. Martin Luther, when writing a sermon on this passage, identifies different kinds of pastors with each.
- The wolves, he said, are the ways the Pope drove Christians to their own works, including indulgences.
- The hired hands were the bishops who only wanted the wealth they would gain by being bishops
- The faithful shepherds only pointed to Jesus, the true shepherd
Today, we have all of these. There are wolves who scatter the sheep and drive them away from the shepherd.
- The wolves who point us away from salvation to a gospel of health and wealth
- The hired hands who make church all about themselves, unwilling to deal with conflict or discipleship
- Those who get out of the way of their shepherd.
Spoiler alert! Your pastor isn't Jesus, so you need to help him stay faithful to the true shepherd.