THERE’S a story about a priest teaching a group of young children about the Good Shepherd.
He told the children that sheep weren’t smart, needed lots of guidance, and that a shepherd’s job was to stay close to the sheep, protect them from wild animals and keep them from wandering off and doing dumb things that would get them hurt or killed.
He told the children that they were the sheep and needed lots of guidance.
The priest then put his hands out to the side, palms up in a dramatic gesture and, with raised eyebrows, said to the children, “If you are the sheep then who is the shepherd?”
He was obviously indicating himself.
A silence of a few seconds followed. Then a young child said, “Jesus, Jesus is the shepherd.”
The young priest, obviously caught by surprise, said to the boy, “Well, then, who am I?”
The little boy frowned thoughtfully and then said with a shrug, “I guess you must be a sheep dog.”
The Good Shepherd – even the name speaks of loving care, gentleness, tenderness and sincere concern.
The love and care that Jesus gives are gifts that every single individual can experience personally.
Jesus, the Good Shepherd, “knows” His sheep.
This goes beyond recognising someone by name or characteristics.
Jesus knows his own with a divine knowledge, as the Lord who knows the deep secrets of the human heart.
He knows what’s in our hearts.
The Good Shepherd calls us by name.
The Good Shepherd feeds the flock and protects us.
Psalm 23 shows that he leads us to green pastures and to running waters; he walks with us through dark valleys that we may not fear any harm.
He protects us at the risk of his own life.
Jesus literally offered his life on the cross so that we, the flock entrusted to him by the heavenly Father, could possess eternal life.
“I have been in that bleak valley
When the last bit of joyfulness
Was sucked out of my spirit
By the ripping winds of desolation.
In those times of extended anguish
The memory of green pastures
With you shepherding my way
Brought me strength to go on.”
These words from Joyce Rupp speak to me, for I have been in that bleak valley, feeling desolate, lost and abandoned by God.
I was at rock-bottom after squandering my talents, possessions and money.
I experienced the self-pity of one who had lost all. I came close to losing the real treasures of my life, the ones who mattered most to me.
I have never before felt so alone.
But the Good Shepherd took the initiative, as Jesus always does, sought me out, found and restored me to the Father’s loving embrace.
Author Ken Blanchard says: “Too many leaders act as if the sheep … their people … are there for the benefit of the shepherd, not that the shepherd has responsibility for the sheep.”
That is not the case with the Good Shepherd.
“I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep.” (John 10:11)
Jesus leads us to green pastures where we can find peace.
If we are nourished by his Word and by prayer and meditation, we need not be concerned about today.
Jesus, the Good Shepherd, leads us on his path.
With loving concern he searches for the sheep that have wandered, and brings them back.
Jesus does not drive his flock – he leads them on the path of life. Jesus is also the Lamb of God.
“Like a lamb led to slaughter or a sheep silent before shearers, he did not open his mouth.” (Isaiah 53:7)
The Good Shepherd laid down his life for his sheep.
He went like a Lamb to the slaughter.
Jesus gave up his life that we might be saved and possess eternal life.
There is a call to action from the Good Shepherd.
Grow our faith by seeking to know Jesus better, by striving to be more like Jesus.
We do that by praying, reading, studying and contemplating the Scriptures.
We do it through the fellowship we enjoy with other believers.
We do it by serving others without thought or expectation of reward, by caring more for others, by forgiving those who have wronged us, just as God has forgiven us when we have wronged God.
What is the Good Shepherd calling you to do?
“Shepherd, now, others in need
“As they stumble on their dark road.
“Today: I unite my heart with those in gloomy valleys”. (Joyce Rupp, Shepherd)
Have a golden day and treasure life.