Jesus – The Good Shepherd
The image of Jesus as the good shepherd is one that resonates with many people, invoking thoughts of divine care, protection and guidance.
In the last few weeks I spent some time exploring the theme of the good shepherd and I was deeply touched by what I discovered.
What makes Jesus the good shepherd
A shepherd tended his flock day and night. He would gather the sheep into a sheepfold at night for their protection. The sheepfold was a pen, a cave, or an area backed by stone walls. Since there were no doors, the shepherd would often sleep or sit in the opening, ready to guard his sheep from harm.
“I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.” John 10:28 When Iplace myself under the care of Jesus our life may not be perfect but we are safe with him.
“He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.” Ps 23:3
Jesus shows us a better way to live. When we follow him, he is glorified.
His followers (sheep) rely on Jesus (shepherd) to keep them safe and to lead them throughout life.
His closeness with the individual sheep is clear in vs. 3 when it says he calls them by name. Wow – He calls me by name!! I know His voice. Jesus seeks me out when I am lost. Jesus places me tenderly on His shoulders. Jesus invites me back to the flock when I go astray. Jesus guides me gently to where is best for me. These realities calm my fears, especially in a time of great uncertainty.
He nurtures us and knows us fully
“He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young.” Isaiah 40:11
What a beautiful image, full of loving care and gentleness.
in John 10, is SAYS that the good shepherd is personally, if not intimately involved with all his sheep.
In other words, Jesus knows the deepest, most wicked, and shameful parts of us and loves us deeply enough to still lay down His life for us. Jesus already knows the depths of our soul, our greatest fears, and grandest dreams.
He lays down his life
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”
Jesus showed his love for us by leaving heaven, entering humanity, living a perfect life, and paying the price for our sins by dying on the cross. He rose again, ascended to heaven to be with his Father, and intercedes on our behalf so that we can enter into relationship with God. Jesus rescued us and lay down his life for us, his sheep.
He gathers the sheep
Jesus not only gathers each of us as individuals, He gathers us together as a flock. He comes to give us life together. He not only relates to each of us personally, He is also in the midst of us, uniting us as one, bringing us together, and leading us forward together.
Sheep need to be part of a fold within the flock. For sheep, a “herd-mentality” is a good thing because there is nothing more threatening to its welfare than isolation. Sheep are highly vulnerable and defenseless, so isolation makes them easy targets for predators.
I believe this is a very important truth. As we are waiting to see how Corona influences long-term our society, families and culture, one thing has become obvious. Many Christians are more reluctant to attend a church on a regular basis. The enemy found a way to weaken our faith and pull us away from God, the source of life.
We are called to live in the context of the local church, in community with other believers because independence and self-sufficiency make us highly irrational and extremely vulnerable to attacks from the enemy. God designed us to depend on one another for strength and guidance and wisdom, as we corporately depend on our Good Shepherd.
Questions to reflect on
- Who is my shepherd? Does my shepherd care for me like this?
- Which qualities of the good shepherd have I experienced most in my life (give examples)?
- Which qualities would I like to discover in my relationship with the good shepherd? How can I perceive my circumstances in light of these qualities?
- How would my life be different if I would really believe that He is the good shepherd?