John 10:7-16 (NRSV)

7 So again Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. 8 All who came before me are thieves and bandits; but the sheep did not listen to them. 9 I am the gate. Whoever enters by me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. 11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 The hired hand, who is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away—and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. 13 The hired hand runs away because a hired hand does not care for the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.

Mark 6:34 (NRSV)

34 As he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things.

DEVOTION – Mark M. Redfearn (California)

Early one morning, I walked along a rural road, enjoying the cool air before the summer sun rose.  Suddenly, I became aware of a rustling in the pasture beside me.  I peered into the darkness and saw the dim outlines of perhaps a hundred sheep.  Apparently mistaking me for their shepherd, the sheep had decided to follow me.  As I strode along the road, the sheep trotted in the pasture beside me until a fence stopped them.  They could see me, bur they could no longer follow me.  I heard their plaintive growing fainter and fainter as I continued my walk.

The Bible often compares us to sheep.  Like sheep, we may go astray by following someone who is not our shepherd.  Like sheep, we are easily frightened when venturing into unfamiliar territory.  Like sheep, we need a shepherd to guide us, to protect us, to lead us to clean water and green pastures.

Christ is our shepherd.  He does not walk away from us, leaving us bewildered and forlorn.  He does not wait for us to come to him, but comes to us and teaches us his ways: kindness, compassion, and courage in the face of opposition and adversity.  Listening to Jesus, we find our way.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: Since Christ is my shepherd, I will follow him closely.

PRAYER: O Christ, our shepherd, guide us through each day.  Keep us from straying from the path you set before us.  Amen.