As we listened to the reading from John 10, I misheard what was being said. I thought it was “the hard man” – not “the hired man” who sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep. Why would a “hard man” run away? Surely he would be tough enough to send the wolf packing! Yet he is hard in a different sense.
Jesus is often seen as the “soft man” – meek and mild. Yet he was the one who went all the way for the sheep – laying down his life to die for us; rising from the dead and returning to find us – yet again.
This is how Fred Bruner translates the passage in his commentary on John’s gospel: “The hired hand who is not the shepherd and to whom the sheep do not belong, sees the wolf coming, leaves the sheep in the lurch, and runs for his life.” But love does not leave others in the lurch. We love because God first loved us; he showed us what love is all about.
Love and the Hard Man