Jesus, the Good Shepherd

Reading: John 10.1-18
David, the shepherd-boy who became the King, had experienced the loving care of the Lord amid all the pressures and circumstances of his life. It was mature faith that wrote and sang -

"The Lord is my shepherd…"

But now, in today's reading, we have Jesus quite definitely and startlingly taking this to himself -

"I am the good shepherd."

At the beginning of his Gospel, John spoke of God's Word becoming flesh and living among us. Here we see that truth expressed in one of its many facets from the mouth of Jesus himself. Here we have the Shepherd become flesh and living among us!

A "word" is the expression of someone's mind and personality. It is communication and relationship. God has always been doing this. He is Love. His Word found expression in creation. It found expression especially as he has revealed himself to the human race for the deliberate purpose of calling us back to his loving care.

In Old Testament times God's character was seen with increasing clarity, but God expressed himself unmiskakably in the person of Jesus.

So David, in his rich and varied experience, had come to know the Lord as his Shpeherd. Now in the more complete revelation of God in Jesus Christ, we see this loving care of God lived out in Jesus the good Shepherd.

The words of Jesus are against the background of the eastern shepherd who was free to roam with his sheep through the unfenced pasture-lands. Here and there were folds, walled or fenced to give protection from the wild beasts. As night fell, the shepherd would lead his flock to whatever fold was most convenient. There might be two or three other shepherds and the flocks in the one sheep-fold. But shepherding was a personal relationship and there was never any problem sorting out the sheep in the morning. The sheep recognised their own shepherd's call.

Jesus is both the Gate to the sheep-fold and the Shepherd. He is the only way to ultimate security and safety. He is the only true provider and guide for our lives. He is the way to refreshment, nourishment and life. His care, his love, was expressed to the point of giving his life for us.

Yes, our good Shepherd gave his life for us! But he isn't dead. He is alive - he laid down his life and took it up again, in fulfilment of his most daring promise (vv. 17,18)! True, we need that once-for-all deliverance from sin - that's what his death was all about. But what happened then has to be translated into what happens now. We still need his loving watchful care day by day.

A little girl got a bit mixed up saying the twenty-third Psalm - "The Lord is my Shepherd, that's all I want."

She made a mistake, yet expressed a profound truth. His loving care is my greatest need. Having that, my other needs are met too.

Jesus said, "I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture… I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep… I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me… I lay down my life - only to take it up again…"

Let us day by day entrust ourselves to his care.

PRAYER: Jesus, my Shepherd, you are the Word of the Lord. In you I see written so large and clear the loving care that David knew of old. I love and trust you – how I need to love and trust you more! Thank you for love and refreshment and help along life’s way. Amen.

Here I am, Lord!

Here I am, Lord!
You see me –
full of confidence
and hope,
bursting life
and expectation –
Jesus, Shepherd,
guide me through!

Here I am, Lord!
You see me –
life ’most lived,
memories past,
strength now ebbing,
yet expecting
life ahead –
Jesus, Shepherd,
guide me through!

© Peter J. Blackburn, Burdekin Blue Care devotions, 2000, 2001
Except where otherwise noted, Scripture quotations are from the New International Version, © International Bible Society, 1984.

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