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April 7 -- The Good Shepherd Is with Us and For Us"

One day a holy man was sitting on a riverbank praying. As he prayed he noticed a scorpion caught in the flow of the river. The river swept the scorpion downstream until it was able to catch itself on a branch. There the scorpion hung on for dear life, struggling to stay on the branch and not continue downstream to his death.

The holy man witnessing this event, got up and carefully worked his way out on the tree. When he was near enough, he leaned over to pick up the scorpion and save it. Instinctively, the scorpion stung the holy man. In pain the man almost fell off the tree. Regaining his composure, the holy man tried again, only to be stung a second time.

Two men happen to come to the river stream and watched as this man now swollen terribly from repeated scorpion bites continued to reach down in his attempt to save the scorpion. One of them yelled out to the holy man to quit trying to save the scorpion. But the holy man replied, “Just because it is the nature of the scorpion to bite, should I change my nature to serve and help?”

John, in his Gospel records these words from Jesus: “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 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. The hired hand runs away because a hired hand does not care for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep. 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. For this reason, the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again. I have received this command from my Father” (John 10:11-18).

The good shepherd does not run away from danger not even when threatened with death, because that is not who the Good Shepherd is. The Good Shepherd knows the sheep need his protection; without it, they will be lost. So, he does what needs to be done. He stands between the sheep and whatever threat there is, and if necessary will lay down his life in order to protect them. Please note the words of the good shepherd, “I lay down my life ... No one takes it from me, I lay it down on my own accord.”

When we read the painful story of the crucifixion, it is easy to get the impression that Jesus was nothing more than a victim. But the words carved on the wall in Melrose Abbey by an unknown monk speaks the real truth of Jesus’ sacrifice: “He suffered because He wills to suffer.” Jesus’ life was not taken -- it was given -- give to protect the flock, so that the flock might live and live forever.

The good news of Easter is that we find the Good Shepherd who did die for us sheep, rises from the dead, to continue to lead us and protect us. Yes, the Lord is our shepherd and we shall NEVER be in want of anything, nor shall we fear – not even death itself – for He is with us!

~ God bless, Dan

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