Easter Four - The Good Shepherd
I am sure that we think of the image of Christ as the Good Shepherd as something very comfortable, or comforting, and almost a little sentimental. The image of Christ carrying a lamb on his shoulders, nursing the lost sheep, is a very appealing one.
But there is also something very hard about this image. No doubt the life of a shepherd was a tough and quite dangerous one. The safety of his sheep might be brought at the risk of his own safety. And the good shepherd is the one who leads down the right pathway. There is one gate to the sheepfold, though there are many who would try and deceive the sheep.
There is something very un-modern about this. We try to be tolerant. We try to live and let live. We even try to give respect to the beliefs of others. All of this is good. But it is not good if it suggests that all beliefs are the same, all paths are just as valid, all roads lead to the same goal. Belief is not just a matter of choice or preference or taste or even upbringing. Life choices are not like preferences for food, or football teams, or holiday destinations.
Some choices are right and some choices are wrong.
I am the gate. - Christ says -
Anyone who enters through me will be safe:
he will go freely in and out
and be sure of finding pasture.
… I have come
so that they may have life and have it to the full.
To think of Christ the Good Shepherd is indeed comforting, and consoling - because he is the way, the truth and the path that leads to life. Follow the way.