“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.” (John 10:11)
The news reports came today. A Navy Seal, identified as Nicolas D. Checque from our area was killed over the weekend. He died during a mission to rescue Dr. Dilip Joseph from the Taliban in Afghanistan. President Barack Obama said, “He gave his life for his fellow Americans, and he and his teammates remind us once more of the selfless service that allows our nation to stay strong, safe and free.”
Most of those fellow Americans the president referred to will mourn this brave young man’s death. He is of that great fraternity amongst our citizenry, whether soldier, law officer, firefighter or anyone else who runs toward whatever trouble or threat exists while the rest of us run in the opposite direction. It is understood by anyone who joins this courageous company of people that they may be called to lay down their life for others. They truly deserve our deepest appreciation, unwavering support, inordinate respect and due honor. I’m sure Dilip Joseph will always feel that way about the soldier who willingly gave his life for him.
Many centuries ago, at the appointed time, an even greater rescue mission took place in our world. A far greater oppressor than the Taliban held all humanity captive. All mankind – past, present, and future wore chains unto death: Lost sheep under the sway of the wolf, eventually to be scattered and devoured. (v.12) But the good shepherd defeated the wolf, even unto the cost of His life. He gave Himself willingly to save the sheep. He said, “Therefore, My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again…” (John 10:17, 18)
How has mankind responded to their Rescuer? To the One who put His life between them and the wolf and lay it down – for each and every single soul ever conceived? Well, in many, many cases we know the sad answer to such an inquiry. Many have chosen to remain in chains unto death. Others have even cast their lot with the wolf and are eventually scattered and devoured. In contrast, a few, a few have held out their hands to Him and seen the chains fall at His feet, the wolf trampled beneath His heel. (Genesis 3:15)
He has come to your rescue. He put His life between you and your assured death and He lay it down. How have you responded? Have you offered up your very life in return, and will you lay it down for Him?