“I am the good shepherd.
The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”
God had prophesied that He would tend His sheep Himself. Jesus is the fulfilment of that word.
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’ also 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 emphasised the importance of the shepherd’s relationship with the sheep. He said 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.
As the Psalmist tells us there will be times when we are in ‘green pastures’ and besides ‘still waters’. There may also be times when our road leads through shadowy valleys and dark times. However he assures us that the Lord is with us in all these places and that He will bring us safely home.
Jesus is not telling a pretty story but describing a reality that we can know and experience. We do well to take it, think it through and apply its truth in our own lives. If we practice talking to Him and listening for Him in our Bible reading, prayers and daily journeys we will begin to know His presence and voice in many ways.
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 personally 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.