The Good Shepherd

I am not a country girl.  My father was a Navy man and I spent my younger years moving from city to city, always near an east coast port, and never anywhere near the country.  I never saw animals roaming in a field and the closest I have ever come to seeing a shepherd lead was during an exhibition at Bob Evans Farms.  To say that the comparison of God to a shepherd was lost on me is an understatement.  And yet David gave the name Jehovah Rohi to Him (Psalm 23), Isaiah tells us that the Jesus will care for us like shepherd (Isaiah 40:11), and even Jesus gives Himself the title of shepherd (John 10:11).  So what's so great about a shepherd?

In the first century, it wasn't.  Plain and simple -to be a shepherd was the lowest of the low.  They spent their lives in the fields with the sole purpose of tending their flocks.  They spent their days in the dirt, hot and sweaty and their nights either sleeping in the field or in a tent.  Their testimony was not admissible in a court, Pharisees considered them unclean, and they were often thought to be thieves (even if there was no proof).  Seriously?  Jesus called Himself one of these?

And then you delve a little deeper....and you see the beauty in the title.  A shepherd devoted his life to his flock.  He didn't abandon them, he never left them, he was there from the moment a lamb was conceived until their death.  He ate with his herd.  He slept among his heard.  He protected his herd.   Isn't that just like our God?  To take as His name what so many look down upon and turn it around and show the beauty in it?

You see, Jesus isn't about the crown.  He never set Himself up as better than anyone else.  Instead he devoted His ministry on earth to reaching out to those who needed Him most - the broken, the lost, the sinners, the lowest of the low.  He emphasized that they way to greatness was to live as the least.  (Luke 9:48,  Matthew 23:11)  His entire ministry was about service to others.  Isn't that what a shepherd does?  Serve his flock?

When we begin to understand the love and sacrifice involved in the title of Good Shepherd we lose the cute and cuddly image of a young boy standing in the field with a staff watching a peaceful flock of sheep.  Instead we see the scratched, bleeding man standing between the lion that seeks to devour his beloved flock and us.  We see the strength needed to put the needs of others, the safety of others, before His own.  We better understand the man on his knees in Gethsemene beseeching his Father to reveal another way to accomplish the task of salvation and then humbling submitting.  (Luke 22:41-44)  The One who stands before our enemy to protect us is the same that comforts, guides and loves us.  The Good Shepherd is a strong warrior with a gentle heart.  He is the one unwilling to let even one perish without every effort.(Matthew 18:12)

Am I a sheep?  You bet I am!  I seek to know His voice and I will follow Him where he leads, trusting Him all the way.  How about you?


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