In my longing to be more like Jesus, I’ve undertaken the study of his “I am” statements as recorded in the book of John.
Jesus said “I am the good shepherd.” (John 10: 11)
I am not a shepherd. My herding experience includes kittens, children, and occasional teenagers…but no sheep.
Interestingly, Jesus was not a shepherd by trade either. He was a tekton (carpenter or builder) before becoming the traveling Rabbi. Nevertheless, the metaphor captures a critical dimension of Jesus’ life and ministry.
“The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand is not the shepherd who owns the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away.” (John 10:11b-12)
Now, this I need! I need a shepherd. Acknowledging our need for the Shepherd is the first step on the path to the Kingdom. We are not independent. Not self-sufficient. We do not inhabit personal islands.
We need a shepherd because we wander. “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:6) We wander from the path. God chose his Son to guide us. Neither the nation approach nor the vocal prophets of the Old Testament succeeded in drawing people into the restored relationship with the Lord.
Jesus alone is our Shepherd. He gave his life for us, his sheep. Following his death, the Holy Spirit came to guide and counsel and encourage. We continue to learn from Jesus’ Word! He promised to keep and hold us forever.
“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me…They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.” (John 10:14, 16)
Truly, my goal is not to own my own sheep pen. I am first and foremost a sheep among my Lord’s flock. As such, I seek to know his voice and know him and follow him.
An addendum: there are times when the Lord calls us to shepherd his flock. When this call comes, may we take this step with all the humility and love and joy that the Lord himself exhibited in his incarnate life!
Where are you with the Shepherd?
Have you entered the Shepherd’s pen? Do you know His voice?
Are you competing with the Shepherd for His flock or for His attention?
Be at peace. Know that the the Shepherd is ever watchful and fully in control! You can rest and you can graze.