chapter 2 – The Good Shepherd

Something To Consider:
For the reason that the 23rd Psalm is the favorite passage in the Old Testament, the title of “The Good Shepherd” is perhaps the favorite name of Jesus, especially with children, with the lonely, and with the sad. Who, at times however proud and self-sufficient, does not feel his or her need for guidance? Who, however fortunate, does not at times feel the need of comfort?

Even in the most prosperous lives the occurrences are many when one longs to be shown green pastures and the still waters, while longing to be snatched out of the storm and perils into warm, strong arms and carried safely back to the sheltering fold. Our Lord surely knew human nature and human need when He told men, women, and young people that He was the Good Shepherd.

It was no empty claim on the Shepherd’s lips. He knew well what it involved, far more than the green pastures, far more than the pleasant sunshine and the peaceful fold. The Good Shepherd, Jesus said, “The Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep…”, and that was just what He proceeded to do.

Something Else To Consider:
Nothing less than that is needed by the sheep. Their own lives are in danger, and so must His be in danger. We realize, when we begin to understand truth, that “All we like sheep have gone astray.”

We feel the sharp rocks beneath our feet. We see the precipice yawning before us. From caves behind us we hear the snarl of savage foes. And not one of our perils but is His as He hastens to us. His life for ours, that is what it means to be the Good Shepherd.

It is not as a stranger that the Good Shepherd, Jesus, comes to us. He knows His own, even if His own do not always know Him. He calls us by name, even before we learn to take on our lips any of His glorious names. He has watched over us from birth, and He has led us when we were not conscious of His guidance.

Jesus, our Good Shepherd, has preserved us from a thousand perils we have not seen. He loves us though we may not love Him. He is ready to die for us, though we will not live for Him. Yes, Jesus died for us, and for us again He dies daily. How then can we disregard Him, silly sheep that we are?

Others of who we often think far more do little or nothing for us. We have our earthly admirations and our earthly loves. They may deserve our love and admiration, but only as they reflect the qualities that shine resplendent in the Good Shepherd. We may rightfully follow them, but only with a shadow of the devotion with which we should follow Jesus, our Good Shepherd.

Something More To Consider:
Many of the earthly leaders of ours are very poor shepherds indeed. The bible is full of condemnations of false shepherds. Zechariah, an Old Testament prophet cried, “Woe to the worthless shepherd that leaves the flock”! And Ezekiel reported God declaring, “Because there was no shepherd, therefore, I am against the shepherds”.

The whole wonderful chapter is a picture of God as the Good Shepherd contrasted with the false shepherds of Zechariah’s and Ezekiel’s days. God further stated through the prophet Ezekiel, “I myself will be the shepherd of My sheep”. Our Lord Himself pictures the hireling who is no true shepherd, and who proves it by leaving the sheep to the wolves. How can we prefer such evil leaders to Jesus, our true Good Shepherd?

Yet the Good Shepherd admits men to His blessed calling. He is the Great Shepherd as the epistle to the Hebrews calls Him. He is the Chief Shepherd as Peter calls Him in his first epistle. But this same Peter was made an under-shepherd and told to feed Christ’s sheep, and His lambs.

The same commission is given to every Christian, and in proportion as Christ’s Spirit dwells in us, we too, as Isaiah prophesied of the Messiah, shall feed some flock like a shepherd, shall gather some lambs in our arms, shall carry them in our bosoms, and gently lead those who have their young.

A Few Final Words:
The Good Shepherd must be sadly displeased with the poor following His sheep give Him. Especially must He be saddened at the sight of His scattered flocks, each herded into separate and various folds. When on earth in human form, Jesus looked forward to the time when there should be one fold and one Shepherd.

After twenty centuries that time seems as distant as ever and yet it is fast approaching. The long delay is not the fault of our Good Shepherd, we may be sure. Is the fault ours? Yes, if the love of the Good Shepherd does not dwell in our hearts! If it does, it will lead us to where He is; and, in so leading, it will bring us to His other sheep.

Our Father in heaven, help us to be more devoted to our Good Shepherd Jesus. Teach us Lord, to allow You to make us more into the image and likeness of Jesus, our extremely faithful Good Shepherd and Great Savior. And as we approach the tumultuous end times and the coming of Jesus, may we be found looking unto Him, our truly Good and Great Shepherd. In Him Always, Amen!

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