January 23, 2013

“I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.” John 10:14-15

Convenience store

Convenience store (Photo credit: wilhelmja)

There are three convenience stores along my route to work.  Their name fits them very well.  They are convenient.  However, I do not want to work at a convenience store.  Convenience stores get robbed.  Convenience store robberies account for approximately 7% of all robberies.  Job-related homicides in the retail trade account for approximately 48% of all workplace homicides.  The highest shares of those homicides are in convenience stores.  The problem is that convenience stores are convenient for robbers also.  That makes it a dangerous occupation for employees.

The US Department of LaborOccupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued a bulletin, “Recommendations for Workplace Violence Prevention Programs in Late-Night Retail Establishments”.  This bulletin gives a lot of recommendations on hazard prevention and control.  However, there is no recommendation for employees to be trained to lay down their lives.  The recommendations are actually the opposite.  Employees are to cooperate during a robbery such as turning over money or valuables without resistance.

There is an unspoken assumption in these recommendations.  The life of the employee is worth more than the cash in the register.  The life of a person is worth more than a case of beer and a couple of packets of jerky.  No one should sacrifice their life to protect a tank of gas and a couple cartons of cigarettes.

OSHA would have a significant problem with any company employee handbook policy that says:

You shall lay your life down for the store.

You shall lay your life down for the cab.

You shall lay your life down for the tools.

You shall lay your life down for the truck.

You shall lay your life down for the kiosk.

That sort of policy makes no sense.  Can you imagine a sheep rancher instructing his shepherds, “if anything bad goes down, thieves or wild animals, I want to you do everything you can, even give your own life if necessary.  I want you to bring all of those sheep back or don’t come back yourself”?


Sheep (Photo credit: James Good)

That sounds so unreasonable because they are sheep.  You do not sacrifice a human life for a sheep’s life.  We eat sheep.  We don’t give our lives for sheep.  Those of us who have grown up in the Church have heard this verse many times, “…and I lay down my life for the sheep.”   We may be prone to think that this is what a good shepherd does.

No, they don’t.

There is no shepherd willing to sacrifice his own life for sheep.  If you spent any time around sheep, you would understand that they are not worth that sort of sacrifice.

Jesus is No Regular Shepherd.

Likewise, we are regular sheep.  Another tendency is to think that we are so valuable that we warrant the sacrifice of the shepherd.  We don’t.  The distinction between the Son of God and us, sheep, is greater than the distinction between a human shepherd and real sheep.  Jesus’ sacrifice as the good shepherd for us rebellious sheep makes no sense .

This fact should astound us.

Jesus’ sacrifice is a treasure – particularly for us sheep.  However, there is so much more.  Jesus is fulfilling 500-year-old prophecies from Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Isaiah.  Jesus’ sacrifice is in obedience to a covenant keeping God.  Jesus’ sacrifice is for those who are His – fellow heirs of God, children of the most high.  Jesus is the good shepherd that became like the sheep; laying his life down for those sheep because that was the only way to save them.

Jesus is the incredible shepherd of an incredible God.  Our Father showed us mercy and grace beyond imagination.  The words, “I lay down my life for the sheep,” should boggle our minds.  Jesus’ sacrifice raised us from mere sheep to heirs.  How can that be?  It is an act that cannot be  based on our worth.  It is an act that can only be based on the abounding grace and mercy of our glorious God.

May we live in a way that the joy and astonishment of our salvation never diminishes.  There is nothing in this world greater than our “good shepherd.”

PRAYER: Lord, thank you for saving me.  Thank you for being my good shepherd.  Forgive me for so often living in a way that takes your sacrifice for granted.  Forgive me for not being in awe of you.  Thank you!  You are truly wonderful and abounding in love and mercy.  Amen


  1. […] OSHA RECOMMENDATIONS FOR SHEPHERDS – Jan. 23 (boyslumber.wordpress.com) […]

  2. you have such a unique and uniquely accessible take on applied christianity. Wonderful to read.

    • Thank you very much. I am just glad that my writing makes sense to you. Maybe, my odd way of looking at life has finally found a niche. Thanks for the encouragement.
      God Bless!

  3. I think many times the differences we debate about are Symantec differences only. Jesus’ sacrifice is amply described in the gospel and elsewhere in the new testament. We are never going to agree totally on what that means, but we all agree He gave all for us and surely set the example for all of us. Peace be unto all of you.

    • Amen!

  4. Thank you for bringing scripture alive, for offering us a modern view on an eternal truth.

    • You are very welcome; it is my pleasure and priveledge. I am very glad it was encouraging.
      God Bless!

  5. OK, that does it..now I have to publish the message I preached last week…sheep are all over it, and when the Spirit gets on a theme, I have to pay attention, Thanks for the prompting! Come check it out on my blog, if you get a chance.

  6. Jesus did not sacrifice anything, for if he did, that would prove something of more value than Life Itself. And of course, there is not.

    • Jesus did not sacrifice anything in the sense that I believe that you are using. However, He was the sacrifice. He layed down His life for us – sacrificed Himself – to pay the penalty of our sin. He humbled himself by taking on sinful flesh in order that He would be the sacrifice. (And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. Eph. 5:2)

      • thank you for your reply. i shall study it before replying. for uou to take the time for such a thoughtful response is appreciated greatly.

  7. Yes, I feel a sense of joy and astonishment after reading your beautifully written blog. God is using you and your talent of writing. Thank you so much!

    • You are very welcome. thank you for the kind and encouraging words. They are greatly appreciated.
      Soli Deo Gloria (Glory to God Alone)

  8. Although I am grateful for the emphasis on Jesus and His precious gift being the ONLY one who can lay His life down for the sheep. Also the spot light on things having no value to people.
    I think something gets “missed” as we are called to lay down our lives as followers of Jesus, for His sheep. Our lives being a reflection of His, while we can not die and save another soul in physical form. We do die in many others, our wants vs. another’s; our needs vs. another’s; our feelings vs. another’s…and so on. This principle of “turning the other cheek” is a sort of dying, but not that WE can save, but that HE may save in us, and them.

    Convenient stores are a target, yes, but mostly because they are “open” longer and exposed to more “convenience” of harm. Also because they often lay along the most convenient route both for innocent travel and escape :-). Makes one wonder if “convenience” is worth it, eh?

    • Amen!

  9. thanks. i emjoyed the article. Blessimgs,
    Daryl Stewart

  10. One ilk of society has always irked me; those who are employed in service to others in most cases are the lowest paid and often the most abused. Jesus being the prime example. To Him we owe our all.

    • And often those who contribute the most to the degradation of society make far more money, making destruction more attractive in some ways than service, ie: drug dealers, pimps, Li’l Wayne, etc… vs. police officers, teachers, social workers, pastors, etc… If this life was all there was, it would be hopeless and no one would serve. Perhaps that’s the difference between the two groups. One believes this is all there is, the other doesn’t.

    • We owe all that we are and it still would be insufficient.
      God Bless!

  11. This is such a wonderful reminder. I pray to God not to ever let me take this precious gift for granted.

    • Amen!

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