LENT 2023 - Jesus Said: I Am The Good Shepherd, Part II
Monday March 6, 2023
If you have not done so yet,
I urge you to read
LENT 2023 - JESUS SAID: I AM THE GOOD SHEPHERD, PART I
before continuing to read here...
What does a GOOD SHEPHERD do?
A good shepherd provides for his flock: he provides pasture for nourishment, water for refreshment, and rest - that is, he assures his sheep have abundant life… As does Jesus, who provides His Word as our spiritual food, the living waters of His Spirit to renew us, and rest and peace in His presence. (Psalm 23)
A good shepherd protects his flock to keep it safe: he does not abandon his sheep and flee when the wolves appear; he will not allow his sheep to be attacked and scattered; at night he sleeps at the sheepfold entrance, protecting the open doorway from the assault of preying animals, because his own comfort and sleep are secondary to the comfort and safety of the sheep (John 10:7,9)… As does Jesus, who never abandons us and flees when danger appears in our lives - who remains to guard and defend us always. “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.” (John 10:28-29)
A good shepherd guides and directs his flock: this is critical because sheep, by nature helpless, are apt to stray or wander into danger. Interestingly, sheep in the Western world are driven from behind, whereas sheep in the East for the most part are led from the front (John 10:4)… And so, Jesus guides and directs His own, because we too are wont to stray and wander into danger if He does not go on ahead of us to lead us in the narrow and right way.
A good shepherd sacrifices his life for his sheep: if need be, he will lay his life down for them, voluntarily… As did Jesus, on Calvary’s Cross, over 2000 years ago.
And why does a GOOD SHEPHERD do all this?
He does all this because a shepherd owns the sheep - they belong to him. He is not a hired hand, who works only for a salary. He cares for them because they are his, and as such he loves them… As Jesus loves us, because we are His.
He does all this because a shepherd knows his sheep, just as intimately as God the Father and God the Son know each other (John 10:15). He knows each and every one of them in a completely personalized way, calling each one and leading each one out by name (John 10:3). And just as the shepherd intimately knows his sheep, so his sheep hear and immediately recognize the voice of their shepherd, and follow behind him (John 10:4)… As so it is with Jesus, who knows us intimately, calls us by name, speaks to us personally, and leads us individually.
And he does all this because a shepherd loves his sheep: fiercely, protectively and sacrificially - but also fondly and tenderly… As does Jesus. “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.” (1 John 3:16) - that is sacrificial love. “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 that have young.” (Isaiah 40:11) - that is tender love.
So, so much more could be said about JESUS being THE GOOD SHEPHERD. But I conclude with the beautiful words from Phillip Keller’s book A Shepherd Looks At Psalm 23:
“When all is said and done the welfare of any flock is entirely dependent upon the management afforded them by their owner...
It is ... the Master in people's lives who makes the difference in their destiny.
I am completely satisfied with His management of my life. Why? Because He is the sheepman to whom no trouble is too great as He cares for His flock. He is the Rancher who is outstanding because of His fondness for sheep -- who loves them for their own sake as well as His personal pleasure in them. He will, if necessary, be on the job twenty-four hours a day to see that they are properly provided for in every detail. Above all, He is very jealous of His name and high reputation as “The Good Shepherd.”
He is the owner who delights in His flock. For Him there is no greater reward, no deeper satisfaction, than that of seeing His sheep contented, well fed, safe and flourishing under His care. This is indeed His very 'life.' He gives all He has to it. He literally lays Himself out for those who are His.
He will go to no end of trouble and labor to supply them with the finest grazing, the richest pasturage, ample winter feed, and clean water. He will spare Himself no pains to provide shelter from storms, protection from ruthless enemies and the diseases and parasites to which sheep are so susceptible.
No wonder Jesus said, "I am the Good Shepherd -- the Good Shepherd giveth his life for the sheep." And again, "I am come that ye might have life and that ye might have it more abundantly."