John 10:7-14 (NIV)

7 Therefore Jesus said again, “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. 8 All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. 9 I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.  11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.  12 The hired hand is not the shepherd who owns the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. 13 The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. 14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me–   

1 Peter 3:18 (NIV)

18 For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit,

DEVOTION – Mark Wallace (Suffolk, England)

My wife, and I were on holiday a few years ago in a rural location, and the place where we were staying overlooked a sheep pasture.  The sheep were free to roam the fields and hills, but a fence kept them within the bounds of safety.

One morning we awoke and saw that someone had left the gate open.  Sheep were wandering about all over the place, and some were in danger.  Soon the shepherd came, closed the gate, and rounded then up until they were all safely within the enclosure.

Reflecting on the verses from John 10 above reminded me of the Good Shepherd, who came to bring us safely back to God.  He went to great lengths for us in suffering on the cross and dying as our substitute.  Only because of what Christ endured can we both know with confidence and enjoy the safety of the shepherd’s care and attention.

Following the Good Shepherd can be challenging.  But the words of 1 Peter remind us that Christ had experienced much human suffering even though he was not guilty.  Christ knows what we are going through.  Peter’s letter encourages us to keep living faithful lives for Christ.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: When we stray, the Good Shepherd leads us safely back to God.

PRAYER: Thank you, loving God, for the gift of your son who leads us safely back to you.  Amen.