I don’t believe there is any description of Jesus Christ that is more beautiful than that of the Good Shepherd. Of course, the idea of our Savior being a shepherd is not new. The twenty-third Psalm is probably the best-known passage in all of Scripture. In it, David describes our Lord and Savior caring for and providing for him as a shepherd.
Isaiah 40:11 is one of the most beautiful Old Testament passages describing our Savior as a shepherd caring for his sheep:”He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those who have young.”
In John 10:11, Jesus tells us that HE is that Shepherd. “I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd lays down his life for his sheep.” He repeats it, in Verse 14, and adds that He knows His sheep and His sheep know Him. He repeats the statement that he lays down his life for his sheep. Did you ever notice that sheep are not expected to take care of, or protect themselves? That is the shepherd’s job. They are dependent on a shepherd meeting their needs.
Every time I read this chapter my mind quickly goes back to the 23rd Psalm. And it seems only appropriate to do so because, after all, this Psalm is about our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not be in want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
He leads me beside still waters…”
I used to have a hard time reading this Psalm because, quite frankly, it’s too ideal. I mean, it all sounds nice, but my life doesn’t really look much like this. The truth is David’s own life didn’t look much like this either. His life was a mess. I wish I could remember who it was but many years ago I heard a sermon, and the preacher read the 23rd Psalm against the backdrop of King David’s life. It went something like this:
So David, how did it make you feel when the prophet Samuel came over for dinner and requested that all of you siblings be present and your father didn’t include you? How did you handle that rejection?
“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not be in want.”
So you were anointed King; and sometime later you killed the giant, Goliath, handing the Israelite army a great victory. Yet soon after, you are running for your life, and you spend the next decade or so living like a vagabond. Was this what you signed up for?
“He makes me lie down in green pastures,
He leads me beside still waters.”
So you finally become king, and things go well for a while. Then there’s the incident where you commit adultery with Bathsheba and have her husband killed to conceal it. I mean, talk about a moral failure. That would get you the death penalty and a movie deal here in America. How do you ever come back from something like that?
“He restores my soul.
He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.”
Now your son, Absalom is turning the people against you and is threatening to rebel and take the kingdom from you. How do you handle that?
“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and staff, they comfort me.”
Now your kingdom is at war and Absalom tries to overthrow you and kill you and take the throne for himself, and you are fleeing for your life. What now?
“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.”
Well David, now its come to an end. You’re dying. The kingdom is in turmoil and on the brink of civil war. You’ve been a terrible father, a pretty good king. Yet, it has all come down to this. What do you have to say now?
“Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”
David, please write that down so others will be able to read it as well.
So now we fast forward about 1,000 years, and in our reading in John 10, Jesus tells us that He is the Shepherd that David talked about. And He has come to tend his flock. When everything is said and done, I am a broken, wounded sheep, carried in the arms of Jesus, the Good Shepherd. And don’t forget; He was wounded too. As Jesus said in our reading in John, He laid His life down for His sheep. That’s how much He loves and cares for you and for me. That’s why Jesus came–for us. It’s all about grace. Let’s hear His voice and follow Him. And we too will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.