“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father, and I lay down my life for the sheep.”
The past several days, the Lord has been impressing on me His role as my Shepherd. The personal, attentive protection it conveys. The peace of knowing how greatly I am cared for as His.
These verses began that stirring in my heart. We see the hired hand who does not own the sheep and cares nothing for them. He flees at the sight of a wolf, leaving the sheep defenseless to an attack. Then we see the contrast: Jesus, the Good Shepherd. The sheep are His. Purchased, ransomed, at great price. He knows them and He is known by them, a familiar, comforting, steadfast presence. And oh, how He cares for us. The hired hand might care nothing for the sheep, the hired hand might flee at the first sign of a wolf, but the good shepherd – our Good Shepherd – He faces the wolf head-on. He does not flee. He did not.
Our Good Shepherd laid down His life for us. What greater demonstration of love could there be?
He laid down His life to save us. Enduring agony, betrayal, and shame. Standing silently among His accusers. Hearing their mocking words, “He saved others; he cannot save himself” (Mark 15:31) as He chose to sacrifice Himself to save us instead.
This is the length He went to for His sheep. His sheep who had done nothing to deserve that sacrifice, who were sinners and enemies of God at the time. This is the powerful love He has for us. How can we doubt Him now? His love has not lessened. His power, power that raised Him from the grave exactly as He said, has not faded.
Jesus, the Good Shepherd, cares for you. He knows you. He watches out for you. He laid down His life for you. He did not fail you then and He will not fail you now. And if you are His, He will never stop fighting for you.
“For thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep and will seek them out.
As a shepherd seeks out his flock when he is among his sheep that have been scattered,
so will I seek out my sheep, and I will rescue them from all places where they have been scattered
on a day of clouds and thick darkness…I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep,
and I myself will make them lie down, declares the Lord GOD. I will seek the lost,
and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak”
Ezekiel 34:11-12, 15-16a
“The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD