“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me. . . .” — John 10:14
In youth ministry we try to communicate the message of Jesus to our students in practical, meaningful ways. Sometimes examples from popular culture can work pretty well. But pop culture changes quickly. For example, if I use the phrase “where everybody knows your name,” people familiar with the 1980s and ’90s will immediately think of the TV show Cheers. But barely any of my students today have ever seen or heard of that show.
Today’s verse reminds me of that phrase from Cheers. Whether we admit it or not, we all like to be known. It can be heartwarming to walk into a room of people who know and appreciate us. It’s a setting without barriers and preconceived notions, where people can be themselves and build one another up in love. It’s a place of community!
Our good shepherd, Jesus, knows us, his sheep, and is willing to lay down his life for us. This is an incredible revelation in our journey of discipleship. We are not following someone who doesn’t know us. Our shepherd knows everything about us and loves all of us the same.
Our faults don’t drive him away. Our successes don’t make him love us any more than he already does. And above all, our shepherd shows his love by laying down his very life for us. There’s no place we can go and be known and loved as well as we are in the flock of Jesus.