There is something calming and relaxing about a flock of quiet, grazing sheep. Around here, when we see sheep we also expect to see fences and a barn. In many parts of the world, the scene is different. The barn and fences are gone and in their place are shepherds.
In my travels, I have had to stop on a highway in Peru as a group of shepherds crossed with their large flock in the middle of the day to the pastures on the other side. I have stepped into a doorway in a small town in Romania as an elderly shepherd walked his flock through the narrow street leaving room for no one else. I have seen shepherds in Israel and Jordan leading their flocks through what looked like nothing but dirt and rocks. Shepherds are different in each place. They differ in appearance and language. No doubt they have different personalities, styles, practices and traditions. If we asked them what makes a good shepherd, they would offer some unique answers particular to their culture and setting, but we could also expect some similarities. A commitment to care for the sheep, knowing where to find good pastures and fresh water, understanding how to pace their travels, knowing the condition and needs of each individual sheep, and protecting the flock from predators and thieves.
In John 10, Jesus identified Himself as the good shepherd. What are His qualifications? Jesus says a number of times in this chapter that He lays down His life for the sheep. Not only does He lay down His life for the sheep, He also has the authority to take His life up again. He knows His sheep personally. He has other sheep beyond those in Israel and He would call them as well. His sheep know Him. They listen to His voice and then follow when He speaks and leads. He also says that they run from any other voices because they know, trust, and follow their shepherd alone.
Let’s look at another time the Lord is described as a shepherd. You are probably already reciting it. Psalm 23, “The Lord is my shepherd…” is a very familiar psalm. We love this psalm because it offers us peace in difficult times, assurance in the face of problems, and a reminder that the Lord is with His people now and forever. Here the Lord is described by David as my shepherd. This is very personal. The Lord leads, guides, provides and protects. He stays with the sheep no matter what and He always knows where He is leading them and what they need. He has two tools: a rod, and a staff. The rod is a wooden club used to defend the sheep from predators and thieves. The staff is a long stick with a hook on the end used to guide the sheep, pull them back when they stray, separate them when they fight, etc.
Here we are also told that the sheep follow the shepherd as He leads. The sheep trust the shepherd wherever He leads. Even if it is a scary trip through dangerous territory, the sheep look around, see the shepherd, hear His voice, and they follow knowing that He will safely lead them home.
This is a great picture of who God is and how we are to respond to Him. The Old Testament begins with sheep dying as sacrifices for the sins of the shepherds. The New Testament begins with Jesus, the good shepherd, being sacrificed for the sins of the sheep. Jesus gave His life to pay for our rebellion, He took His life up again when He rose from the grave and now offers His sheep eternal life.
It has been said that “The Lord is my shepherd” is written on too many tombstones and not enough lives. The Lord is the good shepherd. The question is, is He your shepherd? Do you listen to His voice and follow Him alone? He continues to speak to us through His Word, the Bible. Are you listening?
COMMENTS FOR THIS POST HAVE BEEN DISABLED.