Jesus in Present Tense – The Good Shepherd
“I am the good shepherd; . . .” John 10:11
We are easily distracted. But Jesus never strays from us. He is the Good Shepherd. Our impression is created by our cultural understanding of a shepherd, as a herdsman raising a flock, as a commodity to be sold as meat. During Jesus’ day, sheep were raised for their wool and milk. The shepherd would stay with the flock for 10 years or more, so there was a long-standing relationship of tenderness.
It was this image Jesus is speaking of when He calls Himself the Good Shepherd. He doesn’t treat us as livestock, or use us as a means to an end. The Good Shepherd does not drive His sheep, He goes before them and leads.
Christ has gone before us, He has journeyed through life’s thistles and thorn-grown wilderness. He is well acquainted with the dangers and perils of the terrain. The Good Shepherd knows how to navigate around attackers who prey upon innocent sheep. The Shepherd knows how to bring them to a place of safety. Sometimes, the way around leads down into deep ravines and through jagged canyons, but there’s always reassurance in the presence of the Good Shepherd. He knows how to lead His flock beside still waters, otherwise the rushing current might sweep away the flock.
In the hands of the shepherd is his staff. The staff provides protection and direction. The Good Shepherd protects us from the enemies of the soul. He places Himself between His sheep and danger. The Good Shepherd lays down His life for His sheep to save them. The staff was a long crooked stick which the shepherd would gently lay on the back of the sheep to keep it from straying. He directs us with grace. It’s the kindness of God which leads to repentance.
The Shepherd always has compassion for His sheep. He sees that we are harassed, helpless, drawn away by our own foolish desires, and prone to wander. We are like sheep without a shepherd. He shepherds us with love that’s urgent, active and moves on our behalf. He goes to us when we are caught, and brings us back on His shoulders, rejoicing, that once we were lost, but now He has found us.
Jesus, You are the Shepherd of my soul, lead me to the place where I can know You more.