Let’s look further into John’s discourse on the Good Shepherd.
Integral to Jesus’s mission is his commitment to his disciples, the men and women whom the Father has chosen and given over to his charge. In his last prayer before his passion, “the Prayer of the Hour”, as it has been called, he prays specially for them, so that they may be steadfast and true.
The allegory of the Good Shepherd focuses on them as well – the “sheep” who hear his voice, and who follow him. “No one shall snatch them from my care,” asserts Jesus, “for the Father who has given them to me is greater than all, and no one can snatch them out of the Father’s care.”
The call to discipleship is not haphazard. Those who receive it are pre-destined in love.
It means that God chooses us from all time, places us in history and guides us along the path he has chosen. Even when we go astray “like sheep without a shepherd”, we are not out of God’s reach. He calls out to us and because we are his sheep, we listen to his voice, and allow ourselves to be picked up and returned to the fold.
The image of the Good Shepherd as a symbol of God’s abundant mercy and provident care, is one of the most powerful images in the Bible.