Jesus is the good shepherd, and in this world of trouble and suffering how important it is to hear the voice of the good shepherd. There have been many shepherds and leaders who have been good up to a point; for example, David, Solomon, Elijah and Hezekiah, but they have been far outnumbered by worthless shepherds.

Our thoughts travelled along these lines as we read the Zedekiah chapter 11. Verse 12 has that intriguing reference to those “who weighed out my wages thirty pieces of silver”. Those who readily paid over the money to Judas Iscariot were extreme examples of worthless shepherds, who were blind to the good shepherd. The one who received the 30 pieces of silver was the worthless one among the disciples whom Jesus were training to be shepherds to continue his work after he left the earth. Do such shepherds exist today?

The final verse of Zechariah 11 says, “Woe to my worthless shepherd, who deserts the flock …”. Worthless shepherds, like the scribes and Pharisees, think they are serving God. They have existed in every generation. John, in his old age, wrote of a church leader called Diotrephes (see 3 John:9,10), who was such a person. 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 whether small or not, there is a common factor says Jesus. “The world …. hates me because I testify about it that its works are evil” (John 7:7). Do we avoid reading God’s word because it pricks our conscience? Diotrephes might have thought he was serving God, but those who constantly read and absorb God’s word learn to be in awe of God, and so progressively develop an attitude that fits them to be seen by God and His Son as worthy shepherds.

In the process of this they learn what it is to endure. This brings a concluding thought from Revelation chapter 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). 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.