“I am the good shepherd.
The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”
Through Ezekiel God had said that He would tend His sheep and not leave it to others. Jesus is the fulfilment of that word and He identifies Himself as the Good Shepherd. Note carefully the word ‘the.’ He is not a good shepherd but the one and only ‘good shepherd.’
He explains the character of the good shepherd by adding that he lays down his life for the sheep. That means that His full focus is on the sheep, He is totally committed to their well-being and protection and He would die rather than let anyone steal a sheep from Him.
The term ‘good’ is not only an indication of dedication and purity – it contains within it a quality that is lovely and wonderfully attractive to others. It has been described as the ‘beauty of holiness.’ Without a doubt people who were aware of the lack of beauty in their own lives were strongly attracted to Jesus and sought Him out. He never repulsed them, but acknowledged them and reached out to them.
Jesus understanding of the role of the shepherd is one of relationship. He says that His sheep ‘listen to His voice.’ Therefore He speaks to them, and He does so enough for them to recognise His voice and hear what He is saying. He tells us that He calls His sheep by name. That means that He knows each one individually and not merely as a part of a crowd or flock. When He says that His ‘sheep follow Him’ it tells us that He is always moving on ahead of His sheep and knows every detail of the situations in which they will find themselves.
Jesus is not telling a pretty story but describing a reality. We do well to take it and begin to think of and apply its truth in our own lives. He is totally committed to us. He will guide, comfort, care for and protect us, and He will never ever forsake us. We can of course wander away from Him and find that our life and living is not what it should be. However, He has not left us and is waiting for us to turn back to Him. What is more He is still speaking and if we listen we will begin to be aware of the way in which He speaks to us, and of what He says.
Because this Good Shepherd is also Saviour it means that He is working His salvation out in our lives all the time. So no matter how badly we flounder or fail or fall all is not lost for
“We know that in all things
God works for the good of those who love him,
who have been called according to his purpose”
Remind yourself every day that the Lord is with you and waiting to encourage, guide and help you.
Lord Jesus, please help me to listen for Your voice in Scripture and through the day – and to respond to what You say to me. Amen.