December 16, 2012
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. John 10:10-11
A thief and a shepherd.
Last Friday a thief and a shepherd entered Sandy Hook Elementary School.
First-grade teacher Victoria Soto had gone on record as saying she loved her "little angels." When the shooting at Sandy Hook School began, she showed exactly what those words meant to her. Rather than being sensible and trying to save herself, she hid the children in the classroom closet. When the gunman entered her room, she didn't cower and she didn't hide.
Victoria Soto, teacher and shepherd, looked the murderer in the eye and said her students "were in gym class." Victoria Soto died, but all of her children lived.
Today the media is calling Victoria a "hero." Without question that word describes the young teacher. But she is more than a hero. She is also a caring shepherd, who gave up her life to save her children, her flock.
In a week we will be celebrating the birth of God's Son, our Savior. More than 2,000 years ago Jesus entered this world to confront and conquer sin, death and devil -- the thieves who had stolen the souls of humankind. Common sense says Jesus should have run away from those enemies, not toward them. Logic says He should have saved Himself.
That's not what Jesus did.
Read through the Gospels and you will see a description of the conflict that took place between the Good Shepherd and the thieves. You will hear how, in a seemingly one-sided battle, those well-armed and up-until-that-time undefeated forces of evil laughed at God's Son, mocked Him, rejected Him, tortured Him, and saw Him nailed to a cross. Anyone who was there that day would have said the Good Shepherd had lost, and the thieves had won.
Of course, last Friday those same folks would have said first-grade teacher and shepherd Victoria Soto had lost.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Take a look at the procession of first-graders who left Victoria's classroom, and you will know the shepherd won the great victory. Similarly, stand at heaven's gate and see the hundreds of millions of souls, once doomed and damned, which have been rescued by the Savior's sacrifice.
The Good Shepherd has won. His resurrection from the dead has defeated death and devil, has sent sin scurrying in defeat. The Good Shepherd has laid down His life for the sheep and because He did we are saved.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, You are the Good Shepherd of the sheep. So we might be saved and safe You offered Yourself as substitute and sacrifice. May we be grateful for Your love, Your grace and Your heroism. And, dear Lord, may we be thankful for other human good shepherds, who have made sacrifices for our earthly welfare. In Your Name. Amen.
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries