On my desk sits a wooden nutcracker. It is there all year, even though we typically associate nutcrackers with Christmas. I found it this past winter at a local Christmas market, one of those that masquerades as an authentic German Christkindlmarkt, when in reality it’s nowhere close. In spite of its inauthenticity, though, the excursion wasn’t a complete bust, because I returned with my nutcracker…my shepherd nutcracker.
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 is not the owner of 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 is not concerned about the sheep. I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd. For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again. No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father. (John 10:11-18, emphasis added)
What a picture! What a caring, tender, sacrificial Savior we serve! Jesus Christ is the Good Shepherd. He lays down His life for His sheep. Moreover, He knows His sheep. He is not a faraway god, high and lofty and out of reach. Yes, He is high and lofty and mighty and all-powerful, but He also is near, caring for His own, and knows each of His sheep. He knows their flaws and imperfections, their trials and joys, their conflicts and triumphs.
So as I sit at my desk and type, looking at my feeble and frail reminder of this great and glorious Good Shepherd, I am struck by His immeasurable goodness, His unwavering faithfulness, and His unfathomable love for a poor, wretched sinner like me.
- Hey, that’s the same way I would answer that question!
- No, just…no. Seriously, no. Never. Don’t. Men, please…don’t. I mean it. No.
- “Disciples are made and strengthened through the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
- I wrote this research article about contemplative prayer back in 2012, but I think it’s still a helpful resource today.
- I had spaghetti for dinner last night and, as often happens, I thought of this.
- The Church and her message: