The Good Shepherd
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”
This Sunday is called “Good Shepherd Sunday”. It occurs every year three weeks after
As you might guess, the Sunday emphasizes Jesus as the Good Shepherd. The
assigned Psalm for this Sunday is Psalm 23 which begins with the words, “The Lord is
my Shepherd, I shall not be in want.”
Each year the assigned Gospel reading is from the Gospel of John, chapter 10. This is
the “Good Shepherd” chapter.
Over the course of three years, Good Shepherd Sunday emphasizes three different
aspects of the Good Shepherd. The first year emphasizes the Good Shepherd as the
Gate to the Father. The third year emphasizes the Good Shepherd as the giver of
This year, the second year, emphasizes the theme of ‘sacrificial love’. The Gospel
reading begins with the words, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down
his life for the sheep.” The second reading from 1 John 3 begins with these words, “We
know love by this, that [Jesus Christ] laid down his life for us—and we ought to lay down
our lives for one another.”
‘Sacrificial love’ sounds like a good thought but it is an unpopular practice. Yet John
continues with these words, “Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in
truth and action.” We are called to not just ‘talk the talk’ but also to ‘walk the walk’.
If these words seem confrontational to some or even condemning to others, John goes
on to remind the reader whenever our hearts condemn us, God is greater than our
The point is simple. We can not love with the sacrificial love as we are encouraged to
do. However, we are the sheep of the Good Shepherd. He loves us with his sacrificial
love. His love transforms us as we grow in the love with which he loves us.
Have a blessed Good Shepherd Sunday.
Peace Lutheran Church
Mill Valley, California