The Good Shepherd

I can’t say I have ever seen a shepherd. Not that I recall anyway. I do have a pretty good idea though, from movies and from the Bible even, of what a shepherd does. Mainly, a shepherd tends to the needs of the sheep. 🙂

In the Bible, there were many examples of shepherds. Adam’s son Abel was the first shepherd. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob held the same vocation. Even king David, a man after God’s own heart, who became king of his people, started his life as a shepherd boy. In the New Testament, an angel of the Lord appeared to shepherds in the field while tending their sheep to bring them the Good News of great joy, that Jesus Christ was born.

Interesting that Jesus, who later called himself the good shepherd (John 10:11), would be announced at birth to those who held that position. Of course, his sheep are not in a pasture, although he owns those too… his sheep are each and every one of us.

I believe God was particularly fond of shepherds, because He has a shepherd’s heart for his people. One of the most beautiful depictions of God as our shepherd is in the very popular passage, Psalm 23. Like many of you who grew up in church, I had to memorize these verses when I was a child, and I am so glad I did. I can still recite them, “The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul.…” I could go on, but what jumps out at me each time I think of Psalm 23, is that the shepherds main job is to look after the sheep, and the sheep are completely dependent on the shepherd.

There is nothing better for us to put our trust and confidence in, and our dependence on, than Jesus. He truly is the good shepherd. He tended to the needs of people around him while here on this earth. He put aside his own needs often to minister to the sick, the lost and the hurting. He told a parable about leaving the 99 sheep to find the one who went astray (Luke 15). Ultimately, he laid down his life that we could live. Through His costly sacrifice he provided a way for us through faith to live in an amazing, love dependent relationship with him all the days of our lives here on earth and forever in eternity with Him in Heaven. He reiterated his promise to be with us always, even to the ends of the age, in Matt 28:20.

Psalm 23 ends on this note, by saying, “Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever..” There is nothing more comforting to me than knowing God’s goodness and love are following me all the days of my life. That means he is looking out for me, that his eyes are always on me. He knows when I sleep and when I rise (Ps 139). He knows every hair on my head (Matt 10:30). He knows my end from my beginning (Is 46:10). He knows the plans He has for me (Jer 29:11), and in his tenderness, he promises to work all things out for my good (Romans 8). And the same is true for you.

If you haven’t surrendered your heart to Jesus yet, I hope you will do that today, and then put your trust in Jesus to lead you in every way, as a good shepherd does!

Questions for reflection:

  1. In what ways have you experienced God as your shepherd?
  2. Which part of Psalm 23 speaks to your heart the most today?

Prayer: Thank you God, for being my shepherd; for looking after me every moment of my life. Your loving presence is a comfort to me. I fix my eyes on you. I put my hope in you. God, I am depending on you to lead me through this journey called life. Thank you for your love. In Jesus name, amen.

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