Links Daily Devotional

Jesus, Our Shepherd

“And you are my sheep, human sheep of my pasture, and I am your God, declares the Lord GOD.” (Ezekiel 34:31, ESV)

You reach into your golf bag for your favorite wedge and, wait a minute, it’s not in its usual spot. You begin frantically shuffling and counting all your clubs, trying to figure out where the little rascal is hiding. Blood pressure rising, you ask your playing partners to check their own bags for the missing jewel. Now starts the embarrassing walk back to find your lost wedge—or you can always wait in hope of a caring soul to turn it in after the round. We inevitably go looking for things that are valuable to us. Just like a good shepherd looks for his lost sheep…

I have wondered why God chose this very specific image of sheep and shepherd to illustrate his relationship to his people (see John 10 and Ezekiel 34 for lengthy sheepish passages). A little research into the highly social species of the Bovidae family revealed that sheep are quite powerless to defend themselves, they are considered unintelligent animals, and they are fairly difficult to shepherd because they tend to be quick to flee and panic. Insulting, isn’t it?

What is also interesting is that sheep have very good hearing, hence it makes much good sense that Jesus would use this particularity to explain the intimate relationship between himself and his own sheep (John 10:4-5). We know from the many parables recorded for us that Jesus’ sheep have been given ears to hear his shepherding voice. With tender loving tones he ever leads, guides and guards the sheep of his pasture.

Sheep fascinatingly need clean water, and they may reject drinking water covered in scum or algae; if only that was our constant disposition, to drink of the pure water of Christ and reject the scum of sin, deception and temptation!

Sheep also tend to move from dark places to brighter areas; if only our stubbornness caused us to follow the light of the Lord instead of dwelling in the gloom of vainglory! Here we shame the poor animals with our lesser behaviors. But praise be to God who delivers us from our body of self, sin, and death. He well knew the shadows and hollows of this cursed ground would cause his sheep to balk and flinch.

However dismal, the state of the sheep is eclipsed by the exalted state of the shepherd God assigned for them. Glory isn’t always what we think. The shepherd became a lamb; and a lamb is a young sheep. The good shepherd became one of us. The Lamb of God is Jesus, our Savior. The Most High God became a lowly sheep. Isn’t that glorious? Jesus chose to lay down his life for us, to do for us what we never could. Lost sheep can never be found apart from him, and found sheep can never find safe pasture apart from him.

The shepherd’s toil reached high anxiety at the cross, but he made it for joy (Hebrews 12:2). He completed the work. Unlike the hunt for your missing golf club, we can be certain that the lost sheep will one day be found. With Jesus as caretaker, none can falter. Jesus will gather all his sheep and keep them to be with him forevermore.

Isabelle Beisiegel
January 22, 2015
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