BY: Fr Livinus C. Igbodekwe



1. Two of the strongest themes in the Gospel of John are ‘believe’ and ‘life’. These, in a nutshell, show the power of the Gospel unto salvation. Christ preached first before He started performing miracles. He taught the disciples before serving them bread to eat, in order that their minds may know, understand and believe so as to make them capable of receiving the mystery behind the bread He will give them later. The message of the gospel is received in the heart/mind. This is why the devil labours to attack the minds of believers – both the shepherd and the sheep alike. If our hearts are open to receive and believe the gospel, eternal life follows. But if we fail to believe we are condemned to eternal death. The devil is sore afraid of this power of the gospel being activated in our minds. Therefore, he (the devil) can attack the preacher by raising oppositions and persecutors to intimidate him (Shepherd), that he may preach with fearful lips and not with a strong mind. An unconvinced preacher cannot win souls because his voice is not known by the sheep. It is not his eloquence that speaks the loudest but his conviction. Only his convictions can reach the deep recesses of the souls of men.

2. Paul and Barnabas are convinced shepherds. They preached in Phrygia in Antioch, a raucous city. The Jews there became ‘agents’ of the devil to draw away the hearts of the people, provoking them to riot against the shepherds of their souls. This still happens today. Whenever one objects to the demands of salvation or cause an internal rift between the shepherd and the sheep that the shepherd is attacked in any form, to stop him from announcing the gospel, such a one is an agent of the devil.

However, no matter the attack against a good shepherd, his convictions are not shaken by persecutions or attacks. A good shepherd will always bounce back to his preaching task, for he knows that he is in a battle with the devil over the souls of his flock. What a courage do we find in Paul and Barnabas that they came back, the next sabbath, to the place where they were rioted against. And they gained many followers to the envy of the opposition Jews. This is enough gospel in itself. Paul was once stoned and dragged outside the city of Lystra as dead. When he awoke, he went back to the city and preached, and succeeded in winning many to the Lord. The persecution and opposition couldn’t take away the joy of Paul and Barnabas. They were filled with joy in the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the support and source of joy for shepherds even up to this day.

3. The good shepherd must be willing to lay down his life for his sheep because he knows what awaits him when his work is done. The reward of those who win souls is priceless – eternal life, life devoid of tears and sufferings, for they have fought and conquered for Christ by their resilience even unto the shedding of their blood. Their robes shall be washed by the blood of the Lamb, and they shall have access to the tree of Life and the Living Waters in the Eternal City of their God.

4. Jesus is the good shepherd who comes to give His sheep eternal life. He knows that the devil will surely come after His sheep. That’s why He teaches His sheep to hear His voice that they may discern His own voice from the voice of the fowler. The devil may want to attack the shepherd that the sheep may scatter. Yet the Good Shepherd will rise again to gather back His sheep. He may want to steal the sheep but the shepherd is there watching over them. He may want to go through the window as a thief he is, but the shepherd who is the gate to the sheepfold will apprehend him.

Dear believer, make the Word of God your daily manna. Eat it until it becomes one with you. Only then can you get direction in life through the voice of the Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ. You too may be a shepherd depending on who or what God has put under your charge. Are you ready to suffer in order to care and protect them? How much do you love your wife and children, and how much do you sacrifice for their joy and wellbeing? A shepherd is either good or bad depending on how much he/she cares and loves the sheep. As we celebrate our Lord Jesus, The Good Shepherd of our souls, let us ask Him to increase our love for God and for humanity, that we may be able to stand to defend that which we are sent to protect – the souls of men.

Very happy Sunday to you!

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