In Biblical times the life and risks for a shepherd were well understood by almost everyone. Shepherding was considered to be a lowly, lonely, dangerous and dirty position … usually left to the youngest men of the family. Among other things, sheep had to be protected, fed, led to good pasture land and water sources, kept together, clipped and groomed. When a sheep strayed from the flock the shepherd was responsible for locating the wayward one and returning it safely to the fold. How appropriate that Jesus would refer to Himself as The Good Shepherd … a shepherd willing to lay down His life for His sheep.
John 10:11 (ESV) – I am The Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
In his youth King David was a shepherd. He completely understood the full-time responsibility that a shepherd has for each of his sheep. So symbolically he fully understood God’s care for him when he wrote “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: He leadeth me beside the still waters. 3 He restoreth my soul: He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. 4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. (Psalm 23:1-4, KJV)
Jesus cares deeply for each of His “sheep” … especially those that have strayed or are “lost.” He does not rebuke or punish the wayward lamb. Instead, when the lost lamb is found ALL of heaven celebrates! Luke records a parable of Jesus that so typifies The Good Shepherd:
Luke 15:3-7 (ESV) – 3 So He told them this parable: 4 “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? 5 And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. 6 And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ 7 Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.”
Oh Lord, I praise You for being The Good Shepherd. So many times when I have strayed You have found me and lifted me to Your shoulders. Thank You for showing me Your mercy and sacrificing Yourself for the forgiveness of my sins. Thank You Jesus for being my Savior. Thank You Jesus for dwelling within me in the person of the Holy Spirit! Thank You Jesus for being the only Shepherd that I will ever need!! In Your strong name I make this prayer, Amen and Amen.