In ancient times tending a flock of sheep was considered a necessary part of society. Sheep were important for their milk, their fleece and their meat. Being a shepherd was often delegated to the youngest male in a clan instead of his inheriting land. The job description went something like this. Must be willing to give up any normal family life, because of extensive time away from home and a nomadic life style. Tend to a herd of stubborn animals that think nothing of straying from the flock. Protecting them with your life. Making sure that each and every one of them makes it safely to its destination. Compensation: Nothing to very little.
The correlation of our Savior as the Good Shepherd is so beautifully connected to what Jesus is to us. He had nothing of earthly value except the sheep under His care. He went from town to town and trudged across miles of rugged country to tend to their spiritual needs. He protected them from the greatest predator of all – the devil, He healed many, He performed miracles, He fed them with the nourishment of God’s Holy Scriptures, He led a life of infinite perfection and took all the foolishness of the flock on His own shoulders when He died on the cross and rose again to life.
He protects me daily with the armor of His salvation and is constantly at my side as I face adversity, fear and anxiety. He is also with me in the good times – encouraging me, lifting me up and spurring me on.
Sheep are known to be rather dumb animals. They think nothing of roaming to greener pastures just to fill their bellies. They have one goal in life and that is to do their own thing. Aren’t we so much like them? We travel through life, often with no real direction. We say we are spiritual people, but we don’t take time to feed on the Word of God. We always look for things that will please us rather than God. We stray like those silly sheep. We need someone to keep us on track – on the narrow way – on God’s path.
Jesus is the perfect shepherd. He referred to Himself in just those words.
John 10:14 “I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me.”
When we feel like our lives have no direction – that things are falling down around us – when nothing good ever happens – when health fails, bills mount up, there is no hope – we can look to our Good Shepherd and ask Him to get us back on track. Not only do we ask in confidence, but we will receive the peace and comfort that He will answer.
Thank you, Lord, for being my perfect shepherd – for fighting off all my enemies – for guiding me to the gate that leads to heaven – for bringing me safely home – for giving your life to save me and all who believe in you and follow your ways. Amen!