John 10:15

At the beginning of every backpacking trip I’ve gone on, there’s a discussion about what to do if a bear comes into the camp. There are the normal suggestions of trying to make yourself look big, making noise to try to scare them away, and keeping in mind that bears are more scared of you than you are of them. I’m not sure how anyone could validate that last claim, but it makes us feel better. After those suggestions are given, I’d usually throw in one last piece of advice. “If a bear comes into the camp, you don’t have to be the fastest person in the group, you just can’t be the slowest.” Ha!

How terrible is that? To think or suggest that a guide would ditch people they were charged to care for and preserve themselves instead of defending the ones they are leading. Yet, we see this kind of activity all the time. We see those in positions of power using people to pad their own pockets or further their own agendas, rather than doing what’s best for those in their care. We see people split when times get tough rather than standing firm in the midst of trials.

This is nothing new. It happened in Jesus’ day too. Listen to the way Jesus talked about it in John 10. He said, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.” (John 10:11-13) Jesus was suggesting that the religious leaders had the mentality that they didn’t have to be the fastest person in the group, but they just couldn’t be the slowest. They were using people instead of serving people; taking advantage rather than giving themselves in love.

As the Good Shepherd, Jesus stands in stark contrast to the religious leaders of his day. He boldly declares that when trouble and threats come, he remains. He’s there when life is great and he’s by our side when life is hard. When the wolves and bears stroll into the camp of our lives, Jesus stands between us and them. Jesus is showing us in narrative form what the Apostle Paul taught in Romans 8:38-39 when he wrote, “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

I don’t know who needs to hear this today, but Jesus loves you way too much to leave you. Nothing you have done or could ever do would cause him to desert you. He’s with you today and he always will be; he’s The Good Shepherd.

Pastor Ryan Paulson

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