“I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep!”
The shepherd is a favorite Scriptural picture of the divine love and care. In the Old Testament, the twenty-third Psalm gathers the whole wonderful truth in exquisite lines which are dear to both young and old, wherever the Bible is known. Then in the New Testament, when our Lord would give His friends the sweetest revealings of His heart toward them, and tell them what they are to Him, and what He would be to them – He says, “I am the Good Shepherd.”
The earthly shepherd lives with his sheep. If they are out in the storm, or exposed to any danger – he is with them. Likewise, Christ lives with His people – in all their afflictions, and all their storms. He enters into closest relations with them.
The earthly shepherd knows his sheep. He has a name for each one – and calls them all by their names. Christ knows each one of His friends, and has intimate personal knowledge of each one. He knows the best in us – and also the worst. He knows our faults, our sins, our wanderings. Yet, knowing us as we are – He loves us still, and never wearies of us!
The earthly shepherd is most gentle with his sheep. He does not drive them – but goes before them and leads them. When they need rest on the way, he makes them lie down, and chooses for their resting-place, not the dusty road – but green pastures. He is especially kind to the lambs, gathers them in his arms and carries them in his bosom. All this is an exquisite picture of the gentleness of our Good Shepherd, in His care of His sheep. He is thoughtful toward the weak. He loves the ‘lambs’ and makes room for them in His bosom. Whatever the need is, there is something in the heart of Christ which meets its craving, and supplies its lack.
The earthly shepherd defends his flock in all danger. Often he has to risk his own safety, even his life, in protecting his sheep. Just so, the Good Shepherd gives His life for His sheep. Christ’s sheep are absolutely safe in His keeping. “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish – ever! No one will snatch them out of My hand!” John 10:28. Then at last He will bring His own all safely home, “and they shall become one flock, one Shepherd.”