John 10:11, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep.”
As Westerners, I think we generally understand the concept of the relationship between sheep and shepherd, but I still think it’s mostly lost in our culture. After all, shepherds aren’t exactly common these days as they were in biblical times. The few shepherds—or farmers—we do have also take care of a variety of other animals on their farm. I myself do not understand all I can about shepherding, but I do understand more than I would were it not for my father and stepmother’s farmette. They have a small pasture where they keep their sheep and lambs. If there’s one thing I soon learnt about sheep, it’s that they are incredibly stupid.
My dad and stepmom had planted some apple trees in the pasture in order for them to grow large enough to provide some shade and shelter for the sheep in the summer. The sheep, for some reason, liked the taste of the bark and would bite the bark and kill the young trees. The sheep, in their stupidity, did not know that what my father was providing for them was good for them; they didn’t know any better. So, they had to build a small wired fence to keep them away from the trees whilst they grow.
In the same way, Christ came to this earth for us and we, in our stupidity, killed Him (indeed, He had to die to pay the price for our sins). In spite of our spiritual stupidity, Christ chose to lay down His life for His sheep. And still today, many humans are too spiritually stupid to know any better. Still today, people mock Him, slander Him, and hate Him. They don’t know that Jesus died for their own good; even worse, they do not believe it.
But for we who have faith, we’re not as stupid, though we still do many stupid things. Nevertheless, we know and believe Christ has died for our own good. In His death and resurrection, we know He has sheltered us from sin, death, and the Devil. Therefore, we know we can run to Him whenever we need shelter (Psalm 46; Matthew 11:28-30). “So then, you are secure, and the devil along with his hell must leave you alone, for he certainly cannot get anything from Christ, who has already overcome him” (from the Church Postil, sermon for Easter 2 on John 10:11-16, Luther’s Works 77:185).