Blog # 184 The Good Shepherd Of the various images we have used to identify the Person of Jesus and His life and work among us, such as Savior, Teacher, Son of God, Prophet, and Truth, the image of Shepherd stood out in a special way in the minds of the early Christians. In the very first Christian cemeteries and worship places we find crude but definite artistic expressions of the depth and meaning this particular image had for Christians in the very first century of the Church's history. Images of Jesus as the Good Shepherd appear on the walls of the earliest churches and often as decorations on the tombs of Christian martyrs. Jesus Himself used the image of Shepherd to identify Himself and His mission on earth given Him by the Father. "I AM THE GOOD SHEPHERD." I can easily imagine how the image of Jesus as their Shepherd was for the early Christian communities a source of inspiration encouragement spiritual strength and challenge. I think that with a little thought and reflection upon it that image would be a source of a similar gift to us. Jesus came to reveal to us the truth about God, that God is love, totally loving and totally lovable. He did this all throughout His life, but most emphatically and clearly when He lay down His life in total unconditional obedient love of the Father on the hill of Calvary. To love means to give. The more we love the more we give. You cannot love anyone more than to lay down your life for that person. You will have given all that you have. Jesus lay down His life on Calvary for love of God, and in that love for love of us. God was worth that much to Him and in God's love we were worth that much to Him. You might find the following Gospel readings useful as a starting point in your effort to appreciate more fully what it means to have Jesus as your Good Shepherd. No one ever did, or will, or can love us more than He, God, in Jesus, giving all that He had on earth to give. What does this mean? What is our response? Mat. 9:36; 12:11,12; Mark 6:24; Luke 15: 4,6; Jn 10:2,11,14.