Names of Jesus: The Good Shepherd
By Jack Kelley
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.
“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep.” (John 10:11-15)
No one expects sheep to be responsible for themselves. Owners hire shepherds for that purpose. A shepherd’s job is to accept responsibility for the safety and well being of his flock.
Our Lord is the Good Shepherd who defends his flock from the ravenous wolves lurking in the shadows. Given any opportunity they’ll strike, but He fends them off with sling and arrow. Have you ever heard of a sheep attacking an enemy or even defending itself from attack? Neither have I. I don’t think they can, and their enemies are just too powerful for them. Did you know that sheep are prone to wandering? That’s why they need shepherds, and believe me, it’s a full time job. But in spite of the shepherd’s best efforts, the sheep do wander off from time to time, get themselves in trouble and have to be rescued.
We’d think it ludicrous for the sheep to blame the shepherd, but that’s the way we, who are sheep, treat the Lord our Shepherd. We wander off, get into trouble and have to be rescued. “Why did You let me do this Lord?” we complain, blaming Him. Unlike sheep who have no freedom of choice and no ability to learn from their mistakes, we are supposed to get smarter through our experience. We’re supposed to know how powerful our enemy is and how helpless we are without Him, and depend on our Lord for protection. That includes listening to Him when he alerts us of impending danger, or warns us not to wander.
But with the patience of a shepherd, He rounds us up, dusts us off, binds up our wounds, and gently sets us down among the flock again, knowing that soon we’ll forget the folly of wandering and off we’ll go, and He’ll have to do it all over again. His mercies are new every morning, His patience never ending, His love never failing.
“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)
Our Good Shepherd will never leave us, never abandon us. (Hebrews 13:5) Once we are His, (John 10:29-29) there is nothing we can do to separate ourselves from Him. (Romans 8:38-39)
Our prayer: Our Father in Heaven, we thank you for giving us our Good Shepherd. We desire to stay close to You. Forgive us for wandering away and thank you for rescuing us when we do. We praise you that your mercies are new every morning, and your love never fails. Fill us Lord, with your patience and love today. That out of the abundant overflow we may give this same love and patience to those around us. Let the world know we are yours by our love.