The Good Shepherd
Bible Reading: John 10:1-18
Years ago, while driving back to the campground near Roseburg, I came across a distressing scene. In a pasture adjacent to the road a sheep had gotten its head stuck in the fence. I had no idea how long it had been there, but it was bleating away, having no idea how to get out of its predicament. Fortunately, we managed to find the owner who then rescued the poor creature.
The Bible repeatedly compares us humans to sheep. And there’s a reason for that. We, like sheep, tend towards making stupid choices which lead us in to trouble. Jesus once looked upon the crowds and “had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd” (Matthew 9:36). Things haven’t changed much, have they?
King David had been a Shepherd. He praised God as his Shepherd, recognizing his need to be fed, watered, and protected, and kept safe from wandering (Psalm 23). Spiritually speaking, and whether we realize it or not, we all have need of shepherding. The problem is there are those who would pretend to be shepherds, but are instead “wolves in sheep’s clothing.” Having no concern for the sheep, these “would-be” shepherds come only to “steal and kill and destroy” (John 10:10). The religious leaders of Jesus’ day fit into this category, as did the false prophets and teachers of Ezekiel’s day (Ezekiel 34).
By way of contrast, Jesus is the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd cares for His sheep. He enters by the door and “calls his own sheep by name and leads them out” (10:3). Their ears are tuned to his voice and they follow him as he goes before them (10:4). He knows his sheep and his sheep know him (10:14). His love for his sheep is so strong he “lays down his life” for them (10:11, 15, 17, 18; 1 Peter 1:19). As the Good Shepherd, he came that we “may have life and have it abundantly (10:10). King David praised the Shepherd Lord, saying, “my cup overflows” (Psalm 23:5). So Jesus has come so we might have the abundant life which is bound up in knowing Him; experiencing the love, joy, peace and purpose He alone can provide.
In these distressing times how good it is to know we have a Good Shepherd who loves us. In fact, he cares so much he was willing to die to save us from our sins. Peter wrote of this: “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls” (1 Peter 2:24-25). The word “overseer” in verse 24 has special relevance. It refers to someone who watches over, superintends, or exercises vigilant care. Jesus is your Good Shepherd. Through His saving work, He has availed to you the eternal and abundant life bound up in knowing Him (Cf. John 17:3). As Your Good Shepherd He is even now watching over your soul–everywhere and always. No one, or nothing can snatch you out of His loving hands (John 10:28)! A Good Shepherd indeed!!!
Lord Jesus, we praise You as the Good Shepherd who was willing to lay down Your life for us. No detail in our lives is outside Your concern, as You provide for us and protect us and lead us along. Thank You for watching over our souls and for the security of knowing nothing can work to snatch us out of Your loving hands. Grant us grace that we, Your sheep, might listen and follow well.
Savior, like a shepherd lead us,
Much we need Thy tender care;
In Thy pleasant pastures feed us,
For our use Thy folds prepare:
Blessèd Jesus, blessèd Jesus,
Thou hast bought us, Thine we are!