The good Shepherd, John 10:11-18
24th Mar 2019
There are many references and images to the idea of the Good Shepherd in Art and Literature. I am a great fan of C S Forester and his many naval stories including Hornblower. A lesser known book is “The Good Shepherd”, a story based during the War of the Atlantic. In it “the shepherd”, Commander George Krause of the US Navy is the captain of the destroyer Keeling, his job is to protect his “sheep”, an Atlantic Convoy of thirty-seven ships and three thousand lives, from the “wolves”, the German U Boats. At the end of the story he handed over thirty; seven had been lost. “Heavy losses, no doubt, but convoys had known even heavier than that.”
Christ is the Good Shepherd and the image that I like of The Good Shepherd is that portrayed by Del Parson. In it he shows the shepherd carrying his sheep when they are struggling whilst at the same time still leading the rest of his flock.
The image reminds me of the poem Footprints in the Sand by Mary Stevenson.
One night I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord.
Many scenes from my life flashed across the sky.
In each scene I noticed footprints in the sand.
Sometimes there were two sets of footprints,
other times there were one set of footprints.
This bothered me because I noticed
that during the low periods of my life,
when I was suffering from
anguish, sorrow or defeat,
I could see only one set of footprints.
So, I said to the Lord,
"You promised me Lord,
that if I followed you,
you would walk with me always.
But I have noticed that during
the most trying periods of my life
there have only been one
set of footprints in the sand.
Why, when I needed you most,
you have not been there for me?"
The Lord replied,
"The times when you have
seen only one set of footprints,
is when I carried you."
© 1984 Mary Stevenson, from original 1936 text, all rights reserved)
Finally, we must all remember that Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd gives his life for the sheep.” At the end of Lent, we remember that great sacrifice of the Good Shepherd.