In the story of the Good Shepherd, Jesus compares a shepherd and a hireling. He explains that a hireling is a person merely hired to watch the sheep. He cares little for the sheep and subsequently the sheep do not recognize his voice. When danger comes, the hireling cares more for his own safety and quickly flees leaving the sheep to fend for themselves. By contrast, the shepherd loves the sheep and knows each one individually. They, in turn, know his voice and follow him when he calls. When danger comes, the shepherd stays to protect the sheep, even laying down his own life if necessary to save them.
This painting was inspired by a story of one Christ-like shepherd whose love and devotion to the sheep saved a young boy. In his own words:
“I became involved in surfing competitions on Sunday mornings and stopped going to my Church meetings. One Sunday morning Brother Marques knocked on my door and asked my mother if he could talk to me. When she told him I was sleeping, he asked permission to wake me. He said to me, ‘Fernando, you are late for church!’ Not listening to my excuses, he took me to church. The next Sunday the same thing happened, so on the third Sunday I decided to leave early to avoid him. As I opened the gate I found him sitting on his car, reading the scriptures. When he saw me he said, ‘Good! You are up early. Today we will go and find another young man!’ After eight Sundays I could not get rid of him, so I decided to sleep at a friend’s house. I was at the beach the next morning when I saw a man dressed in a suit and tie walking towards me. When I saw that it was Brother Marques, I ran into the water. All of a sudden, I felt someone’s hand on my shoulder. It was Brother Marques, in water up to his chest! He took me by the hand and said, ‘You are late! Let’s go.’ When I argued that I didn’t have any clothes to wear, he replied, ‘They are in the car.’ That day as we walked out of the ocean, I was touched by Brother Marques’s sincere love and worry for me. He truly understood the Savior’s words: ‘I will seek that which was lost.’”