Jesus, Our Good Shepherd

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” (John 10:11)

Shout for joy, O heavens; rejoice, O earth; burst into song, O mountains! For the LORD comforts his people and will have compassion on his afflicted ones. But Zion said, “The LORD has forsaken me, the Lord has forgotten me. Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me.” -Isaiah 49:13-16

Our Jesus is the good Shepherd–the chief of all shepherds. None so faithful, so gentle, so loving, so skillful, so tender, so kind as He. I am reminded of the words in Isaiah picturing God as the compassionate Shepherd gently caring for His flock:

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)

Certainly, King David’s 23rd Psalm comes to mind as he writes of the abundant provisions of the Lord–his great shepherd:

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. (Psalm 23:1)

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. (Psalm 23:5)

Jesus, our good Shepherd, is both our sufficiency and our strength–withholding no good thing from His sheep. The psalmist proclaims:

For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless. O LORD Almighty, blessed is the man who trusts in you. (Psalm 84:11-12)

One of the principal offices Jesus fills for every believer is this one of Shepherd. He leads and guides and comforts and protects all the sheep of His pasture. This title would have been particularly rich in meaning to those following our Lord in His day–His hearers understanding both the comfort and instruction the term carried. Just like a good shepherd, Jesus knows all of His sheep–each one of us. He is intimately familiar with the details of each one of our lives–knowing our names, families, circumstances, and trials. He is acquainted with our history, where we live, our experiences. Nothing is a surprise–or a secret–to Him. We are ever before Him as He tenderly watches over and guides us.

“He who counts the stars and calls them by their names is in no danger of forgetting His own children.” -Charles H. Spurgeon

A few verses later in John 10, Jesus tells us that no one can snatch us out of His hand:

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. (John 10:27-28)

“Like a good shepherd, Christ cares tenderly for all His believing people. He provides for all their wants in the wilderness of this world, and leads them by the right way to a city of habitation. He bears patiently with their many weaknesses and infirmities, and does not cast them off because they are wayward, erring, sick, footsore, or lame. He guards and protects them against all their enemies, as Jacob did the flock of Laban; and of those that the father has given Him He will be found at last to have lost none.” (J.C. Ryle)

Jesus He willingly laid down His life for His sheep. Aware that nothing but His blood could save us, He offered His body on the cross for our sins. He offers all for all. Believers are saved forevermore because the good Shepherd died for us.

Take It to Heart

May Jesus’ death for us not be in vain. It will not profit us anything on the last day if we never heard His voice during our lifetime or followed Him. Paul tells us:

We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:20-21)

As God’s fellow workers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain. For he says, “In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.” I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation. (2 Corinthians 6:1-2)

“Is the Lord Jesus thy Shepherd? Has He called thee out of the wilderness? Called thy heart from the love of sin and the world, and brought thee into His fold and pastures; brought thee into a close attendance on His ordinances? And does He feed and refresh thy soul with His Word? Canst thou distinguish the Shepherd’s voice from the voice of an hireling? And does thy heart cleave to the Shepherd in faith and love; adoring His person, and approving His laws, as well as admiring His doctrines? Then fear not; the Lord is with thee; Jesus is thy Shepherd: thou shalt want nothing that is really good. Follow thy Shepherd till He bring thee to glory.”
(K. H. Von Bogatzky)