Jesus is the good shepherd – and in this world of sin and death it is important to find and hear the voice of the good shepherd. There have been many shepherds over the centuries that have been good up to a point; for example, David, Solomon, Elijah and Hezekiah. But they have been outnumbered by worthless shepherds – and sadly is our experience today?

Our thoughts travelled along these lines as we read Zechariah 11. Verse 12 has that intriguing reference to those “who weighed out my wages thirty pieces of silver”. Those who paid over the money to Judas Iscariot were extreme examples of worthless shepherds, blind to the “good shepherd”. The one who received the thirty pieces of silver was the worthless one among the twelve Jesus was training to be shepherds to continue the work. Do such shepherds exist today?

The final verse of Zechariah 11 says, “Woe to my worthless shepherd, who deserts the flock …”. Tragically worthless shepherds think they are serving God – the scribes and Pharisees are outstanding examples of this. They have existed in every generation; John, in his old age, wrote of a church leader called Diotrephes (3 John 9,10) who was such a person and John adds, “whoever does evil has not seen God”. Our minds must have spiritual vision to “see” God.

Doing evil starts in small ways, but there is a common factor says Jesus. “The world … hates me because I testify about it that its works are evil” (John 7:7). In contrast, those who read and absorb God’s word, learn to be in awe of God, and progressively develop an attitude that fits them to be worthy shepherds, or as sheep that genuinely seek to “hear” His voice. In the process of doing this they learn what it is to endure – a point which this brings us to our concluding thought in Revelation 13. Verse 8 tells us of “the book of life” and those whose names are not written there. How tragic! But then comes the challenge – “If anyone has an ear, let him hear … here is a call for the endurance and faith of the saints” (verses 10,11). And as we try to endure we can add a parallel thought, ‘if anyone has an eye, let him read’ and, as a result, really follow in the footsteps of the good shepherd.