MOTIVATED BY LOVE
Rev Emmanuel Aggrey-Ogoe (Superintendent Minister: Canterbury and East Kent
During the 17th century, Oliver Cromwell, Lord Protector of England, sentenced a soldier to
be shot for his crimes. The execution was to take place at the ringing of the evening curfew
bell. However, the bell did not sound. The soldier’s fiancé had climbed into the belfry and clung
to the great clapper of the bell to prevent it from striking. When she was summoned by
Cromwell to account for her actions, she wept as she showed him her bruised and bleeding
hands. Cromwell’s heart was touched, and he said, “Your lover shall live because of your
sacrifice. Curfew shall not ring tonight!” (Our Daily Bread).
Dearly beloved, this is what love can do. John 10:11-18 talks about Jesus as the Good shepherd.
In John chapter 9 Jesus heals a man born blind on a Sabbath and when this was reported to the
Pharisees, they questioned the man that had been healed. Because they were not happy with
his answers, they threw him out. This led to a conversation between Jesus and some Pharisees,
resulting in Jesus’ claim to be the shepherd. It all began with an act of love shown by Jesus to
one of Abraham’s descendants.
Beloved, “How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the world’s goods and sees a brother
or sister in need and yet refuses help?” (1 John 3:17). Jesus was in a position to restore the sight
of a man. But he was faced with blind obedience to the law that prevents work on the Sabbath.
He chose the healing/restoration of the life of the man over blind adherence to the law.
He is indeed the Good shepherd whose motivation to shepherd the flock is not based on what
he stands to benefit from the animals in his care, but solely the love he has for them. His love
for His flock is beyond comprehension. Samuel Wesley write: “Behold the Saviour of mankind
nailed to the shameful tree! How vast the love that Him inclined to bleed and die for thee!”
The Good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.
The behaviour of the Pharisees could be compared to what Jesus describes as hired men, who
ran away and leave the flock at the mercy of wild animals. They are motivated by selfpreservation instead of love. Though they claim to follow Moses, they failed to acknowledge
the love that motivated Moses to dissuade God from destroying the Israelites in the wilderness
and make him a great nation.
My sisters and brothers, what is your motivation? Is greed and selfishness driving you to alter
the climate, pollute the sea and engage in avoidable wars? Or is the love of God motivating
you to care for nature and be at peace with others?
The Apostle John calls us to love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action. And by this
we will know that we are from the truth and will reassure our hearts before God. In the words
of Michael Forster, “let us accept each other’s incompleteness and share the joy of learning to
be whole…” Amen