Shepherds are not overly common anymore. In fact, in Canada it is quite rare to see one. I recently revealed my ignorance after purchasing a wool sweater and declaring to many family “many good sheep died for me to wear this”. While your ignorance may not be as profound as mine there are some great things we can appreciate about our shepherd from John 10.
A Providing Shepherd
Jesus contrasts himself to the thieves who came only to steal, kill and destroy. Our Lord Jesus is unique as our shepherd as he requires nothing from us but gives all to us. He doesn’t kill but gives life. He doesn’t destroy but mends broken wounds. Many religions are built around what you can give,offer, or contribute and yet we worship one who gave himself. The central premise of the Christian faith is not what we can give to God but that he gave himself for us. As we think of a shepherd who provides we should be reminded that we have nothing of our own. What do you have that he has not given to you? You and I have been given life, and yet of our Lord could say “I am the life”. How amazing that the one who is life gave his life for the sheep. He is a providing Shepherd.
A Powerful Shepherd
We have not only a shepherd who provides for us but one who is powerful to protect us. Jesus stated with authority that no one could take his life from him. He promised that none could take a sheep out of his hand. The power of our shepherd should instil within us both confidence and peace as we know we are safe. Our salvation is absolutely secure as it has nothing to do with us. We can have confidence that we are safe because he is powerful. Yet far greater than simple rest and peace, this should fill our hearts with worship. As we look at one who has control over his own life we should be reminded that we have no control over ours. A sheep is an animal that is helpless, defenceless, and in constant need of care. With awe we can look to our shepherd who not only provides for us but is powerful to keep us. He is a powerful shepherd.
A Personal Shepherd
Finally, we have a personal shepherd. Jesus said “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me”. When we think of people who hold positions of great authority we instinctively think of an impersonal relationship. While you perhaps know of the Prime-Minister it is unlikely that you have a personal relationship with him. The contrast with our Shepherd is that he knows us. Do you listen for his voice? We often think of eternal life in terms of salvation from hell but that is not the only thing that the Lord had in mind. In John 17 Jesus tells us what eternal life is “This is eternal life, “that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent”. Brothers and sisters the life we have been given is far more than merely being saved from hell. We have a personal shepherd who at great price as brought us into a relationship with himself. He provides for us, he is powerful to protect us, but thank God that he is personal and he knows us.
Since we have such a shepherd what should our response be as sheep? Firstly, we should thank him because he provides. We cannot earn his favour, and we should never forget that we are benefactors to his continued generosity. We should worship him because he is powerful. There is none like him, none so great, none so powerful, none so worthy of all our respect and praise. Not only that but we should move out with confidence knowing that the same power that saved us is the power that hold us. Finally we should follow him because he is personal. May we, by God’s grace be a people marked by thanksgiving, worship, and obedience.