Monday, October 28, 2013

The Good Shepherd

My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me;
and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish;
and no one will snatch them out of My hand.
John 10:27-28

Apparently sheep are not overly smart animals.  

They are constantly hungry and because they are creatures of habit, they will mow down the same trail until the ground is nearly ruined.  They are skittish and frightened, and completely unable to defend themselves - no claws to fight with and though they have teeth, they are not agile enough to attack with them.  They tend to follow the crowd, so if one sheep goes in a wrong direction, the rest will follow.  They also don't lay down willingly - they are constantly scrounging for food and forget to rest.  They are susceptible to pests and disease and unless they get help, they easily get sick from infestations.  

Now, rather than get defensive that Jesus referred to His children as sheep, let's take a look at what a good shepherd looks like and then see what we think.  By the time Christ is born, we know that the shepherds were the outcasts of society - a job mostly held by those who couldn't get work anywhere else, because it wasn't glamorous or easy.  It was said that the lowest of the low were shepherds.  So when God sent the first birth announcement to shepherds, it was a statement that Jesus had come for even the worst of men.  

But just because shepherds were on the low rung of the social ladder at the time of Christ doesn't mean they were always like that - remember, David was a shepherd. And it doesn't mean that their job was unimportant - the job of a shepherd was vital, not only because the sheep provided sustenance and wool for the community, but also because the sheep were used to draw men closer to God through the sacrificial system.  Sheep were immensely valuable.  So don't discount the job of a shepherd - he was guarding something highly valuable.

So here's a quick description of Jesus as the Good Shepherd:
  • He makes the sheep to lie down (Ps. 23:2)
  • He leads them in green pastures and to quiet waters (Ps. 23:2,3)
  • He leads them in a way that they do not fear (Ps. 23:4)
  • He anoints their head with oil to keep the pests away (Ps. 23:5)
  • He protects His sheep (John 10:7-10)
  • He sacrificially lays down His life for His sheep (John 10:11)
  • He takes ownership of the sheep and knows them personally (John 10:14)
  • He is important to the sheep and they know the sound of His voice (John 10:27
  • He gives them life (John 10:27)
  • His sheep will never die (John 10:28)
  • His sheep are completely safe in His care (John 10:28)
Considering the high price paid for the sheep, we can assume that the sheep are valuable to the Lord.  We do not have a neglectful shepherd.  We have a Good Shepherd who loves us, leads us, knows us and protects us.  What do we have to fear as long as we are in His care?

Thoughts to ponder today...

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