Lectio Divina – The Good Shepherd

January 16, 2015
by Pat Bell

A few weeks ago, the leader of our Bible study group took us through an experience of Lectio Divina (Latin for "divine reading") using the Scripture passage where Jesus speaks of Himself as the Good Shepherd in John 10:3-15.

Lectio Divina is an opportunity to hear and respond to a Bible passage where the leader reads the passage aloud three times, and the listeners have a different task with each presentation.

First reading: Listen for a word or a phrase that is impressive, then hold the word or phrase in your thoughts.

Second reading: Connect that impressive thought with a present life situation to which the Scripture relates, and give a silent prayer.

Third reading: Reflect on the personal invitation from God in the Scripture, and respond with prayer or writing.

Here is the reading from that evening. As you read it today, stay tuned for the word or phrase that is impressive to you. If you can, do the second and third readings and tasks. Jesus is speaking:

    John 10:3-5,7b,9b-12,14-15 – The watchman opens the gate for [the shepherd], and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger's voice.

    I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

    I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand is not the shepherd who owns the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it.

    I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me — just as the Father knows me and I know the Father — and I lay down my life for the sheep. (NIV)

When "He calls his own sheep by name" was read aloud at my Bible study, I came to attention as if I had heard my name. God invited me during that Lectio Divina experience to place complete trust in Him. He reminded me of who He says I am and His powerful love for me. I took it right to heart and put some uncertainties out of my mind.

When we come to Scripture, let us open ourselves to hear God's invitation for us in that moment. Let us give the words a few moments to sink in. I find that it pays to let the Word work like yeast in my life.

Prayer: Father in heaven, in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, we seek the full life that He came to bring. Help us to keep our hearts open to hear His voice. Amen.

About the author:

Pat Bell <llebpat@gmail.com>
Owen Sound, Ontario, Canada

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1 Comment

  • PresbyCan Feedback says:

    Amen Pat.


    What an eye-opening devotional, Pat. Thank you.


    Thank you Pat.
    Best wishes throughout the New Year to you and your loved ones.


    Right on Pat. Here is a quote I received yesterday, thought it was more than true. Most Moms think their children walk on water. Mary’s Son Actually did.


    Thank you Pat for sharing the Lectio DIvina way of studying Scripture. I’ve never heard of it before until now. It makes studying the scriptures become more alive!


    Hi Pat, Thanks for sharing this challenging reading. I found I was surprised by the immediacy of one sentence and how it tied in so well with my current and future plans.
    Bless you and please keep sharing.


    Hey Pat,
    Enjoyed your devotional toddy.
    It sounds like a great way to acquire ideas for devotionals.
    Thanks, write more of these.


    Dear Pat:
    Thank so much for sharing this with us. I did read it the three times and did as you suggested. What a blessing and comfort!
    God bless you and please keep writing.


    Pat: Thank you for the substance that composed this day’s Devotion. It had depth and meaning and I shall introduce by suggestion its format to the Bible Studies groups in our congregation.
    God’s blessings upon whatever lies within your future.


    Hi Pat:
    I was reading the devotion this morning and thought, hey, our minister did that too. But then I said to myself, I wonder who wrote this and sure enough it was you and we’d heard the same minister giving the same message!
    Thanks for this. I needed the assurance of God the Good Shepherd and that he is ALWAYS with us.


    Dear Pat,
    What a wonderful exercise in assisting us to meditate on His Word!
    I also took to heart that He knows my name and thanked Him for that. Present situation: I am recognized readily because He gave a beautiful name. The third step for me was that I am known by Jesus just as God and Jesus know each other. I ended by thanking Him for my eternal security in Him. Wow! Thank you for giving us such a blessing!


    Pat, This is a wonderful passage on which to apply lectio divina!
    As I pondered over the words, another picture came into view, one drawn from my childhood farm memories: I see a heard of cows and calves in a pasture in springtime. The calves frolic about. But they always return to their own mothers for nurture and protection; and the mothers always know which calves belong to them. It’s amazing. It’s the sense of bonding which I see expressed in the John 10 passage. Oh the privileged of being bonded with Christ. It keeps me from being lured towards wrong voices.


    Thanks for sharing. This will provide a different approach for Prayer and study groups! I did it once before in a group and was thankful for the reminder! I have kept the outline.


    Hi Pat,
    We did the same thing this past summer. I also found it to be very meaningful. I love reading the Word and listening for what God has to say to me. Be blessed.


    Dear Pat,
    This sounds like a good idea to try out for a few times, though I think it could become too much to try to do this many times in a row with the same Bible Study group.
    Our group likes to use lessons from a book that each person has a copy of, so she can read over the section of the book at home in preparation. We recently began to use Rick Warren’s “The Purpose Driven Life,” and like it.
    I pray for God’s blessings to continue with might for you.
    Keep writing.


    Amen to your prayer.

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