While the title of shepherd carried a specific meaning to the Jewish people of the time, it can be easy for us to skim over this reference and miss the magnitude of what God is saying about the nature of Jesus.
The traditional role of a shepherd was anything but glamorous. In fact, it was difficult, requiring long, dangerous hours and a complete commitment to the well-being of his flock. He led them to food and shelter, accounted for them each night, and sought out and returned any that strayed. He even protected them from thieves and predators at the expense of his own safety.
Just as sheep have no instinct for food, are prone to stray and get lost, and have trouble finding home, we too, are aimless without our shepherd. In Jesus, we find the provision, protection, and guidance we so desperately need.
Throughout the New Testament, we are reminded of Jesus’ role as our Good Shepherd. In the Parable of the Lost Sheep, the shepherd leaves the ninety-nine to go after the one, giving us a beautiful picture of God’s heart for the lost and His commitment to bringing us home to safety.
In Philippians, we are reminded by the Apostle Paul that God will meet all our needs through Jesus, just as a shepherd cares for every need of his flock. Again, in Luke 13, Jesus speaks of His desperate desire to protect His children, if only we are willing to follow Him.
In John 10:27-30 NIV, Jesus said:
My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.
What a Good Shepherd, indeed!
As we approach Christmas, remember that Jesus is our Good Shepherd and in Him we find provision, eternal life, and the promise that no one can snatch us from the safety of His care. Just as a shepherd can’t care for his flock from a distance, Jesus is always by our side. Let’s listen for His voice, having full confidence that He is close, and that He leads us to good pastures.
Prayer: Father, thank You for painting such a beautiful portrait of Jesus as my Good Shepherd, and for meeting all my needs through Him. Give me ears to hear Your voice clearly and the boldness to follow wherever You call me. I trust that You only have good things in store for me, and I will never be outside of Your care.