Contemporary English Version (CEV)
Jesus Christ is our Shepherd, the one who cares for the sheep, who sacrifices for the sheep, who freely gives of his own life so that the sheep may thrive. Jesus talks about the difference between a shepherd and a hired hand -- when the going gets tough, the hired hand gets going. He flees to save himself, while the true Shepherd commits himself to the sheep because he loves them. He will risk all to save them.
You are a sheep. It means we are vulnerable to outside threat and disease. We can get confused, scared and lonely. We worry about what lurks beyond and what lurks within. We know we are not invincible, and we know our own weaknesses (often to the point that we fixate on them.) But we also are stronger together, and we are charged to live in community, caring for one another and watching out for each other. We have gifts to share.
Through it all, the shepherd is near. You may sometimes wonder if he has run off, but He assures us that he never will, that he will abide with us, lingering near, watching over us, leading us to still waters and green pastures. The life that is truly life is found in him, so may we follow where he leads, accepting his correction, and thriving under his care.