Good Shepherd Sunday

This week is the Fourth Sunday in Easter, and it is traditionally known as “Good Shepherd Sunday” because of the Gospel reading today in which Jesus describes Himself as the Good Shepherd. We’re all familiar with the images: Jesus standing, staff in hand, with the lamb across his shoulders. Or perhaps we think of Jesus sitting under a tree – a little lamb on his lap. These are beautiful images, but they are incomplete.  

For thousands of years, the Jewish people have used the Good Shepherd image to refer to God. It goes back to Genesis 49:24, where Joseph was saved “By the power of the mighty one of Jacob, by the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel, the God of your father…” Such imagery was used by Moses and most of the prophets. And it was used most familiarly by David in the 23rd Psalm: “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.”

So when Jesus described himself as the Good Shepherd, he wasn’t singling out the nicest herdsmen in the field. He was pointing to the prophecies about Himself.  He was revealing Himself as God!