I am the Good Shepherd

Take a moment at think back to your very first memory. Maybe it was a family vacation, time spent at the beach, or hanging out with your pet dog. Got it? Okay, now consider the times before your very first memory. Reflect on how completely dependent and helpless you were. You couldn’t do anything for yourself. If you were hungry, it was up to your parents to feed you. If you needed rest, you needed to be taken to bed. If you were going to be not naked, your caretakers would have to clothe you. Whether we recognize it or not, just like how babies have total dependency on their caretakers, we also have a spiritual dependency.  In John 10:14-15, Jesus says,

“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me - just as the Father knows me and I know the Father - and I lay down my life for the sheep.”

Jesus claims to be the “good shepherd,” making his followers a flock of sheep. Just as babies are dependent on parents, so too are sheep dependent on their shepherd. They are utterly defenseless on their own and encounter many dangers - harsh weather, predators such as wolves (as Jesus mentions in v. 12), and even thieves seeking to kidnap (mentioned in v. 1). Sometimes even their own stupidity would take them wandering off the pack, putting themselves in the face of these dangers. As grazing animals, sheep have the tendency to be followers or wanderers. Reflecting on our relationship with the shepherd and our own tendencies as “sheep,” we looked at two different points.

The first being that wandering off leads to danger. When sheep choose to not listen to the shepherd’s voice and wanders off, danger abounds - with wolves and robbers on the ready. If we wander from our Good Shepherd, we will put ourselves in danger as well. If we chase after worldly things, we will wander off into disappointments. When we seek personal gains and pleasures, we are sure to wander straight into unfulfilled valleys. In John 10:12-13, Jesus says,

“The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.”

In the same way, we may feel “taken care of” when we seek our own personal desires, but again, this is a lie that leaves us in harm’s way. Wandering from the Shepherd will only lead to danger.

In contrast, following the Shepherd leads to safety. The Good Shepherd guides, protects, and restores. He knows us in a personal way, and cares about His flock to the point of laying down His life for them. The role of the shepherd back in Bible times was pretty gnarly. Fighting to protect his flock from predators like wolves, trudging through harsh weather, and corralling a group of aimless sheep. The shepherd would have been equipped with a rod, which had a hook at the end. This rod would to help guide his sheep with gentle nudges and the hook would help bring back stray sheep that had fallen from the right path. 

King David understood what it meant to have the Lord as his shepherd, as described beautifully in Psalm 23. David stated that the Lord, as his shepherd, gave him rest by leading him to quiet waters, guide him to right paths, and provided him the protection to leave him fearless. In the same way, Jesus provides us all that we need, leads us to restoration, refreshes, guides, and with Him we have nothing to fear. 

Are you wandering off like a lost little lamb or are you following the Shepherd’s voice? Wandering on your own path will only lead to danger and disappointment. Jesus as our Shepherd protects us, guides, leads, restores, and refreshes. Over the course of the last month or so, as we have dug into His “I am” statements, we have really seen how important Jesus is. That He is the only one who can satisfy us and the only way to a relationship with God. He is the way to live eternally, even though our earthly bodies will pass. We know that only through Him can we glorify God and now we’ve looked at He is our way to safety. 

Jesus is everything. He is everything to those who want a relationship with God, He is everything to those who want an eternity in Heaven, and He is everything to those who want comfort, strength, guidance, and purpose in life. By recognizing that you need forgiveness for your sins and accepting Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross as the saving act of grace - you too can have a relationship with God! If you haven’t done that, I urge you to -- at the very least, explore more what it means to follow Him. More questions? E-mail john@pccsc.org.