Friday, July 21, 2017

The Good Shepherd

Submitted by Lara Cook
I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.  John 10:11

The fourth “I am” statement of Jesus is “I am the good shepherd.”  Shepherds have a very important job.  Sheep are completely defenseless in the face of an attack.  They have no sharp teeth or claws and they certainly cannot outrun a predator, so when a wolf comes after them, they are going to lose.  They are totally dependent on the shepherd to protect and lead them.  He watches for danger and uses the crook of his staff to pull them back into the fold when they start to wander outside the bounds of protection.  The sheep know their shepherd.  They will listen to the shepherd and follow where the shepherd leads.  Shepherds may even give up their lives to protect the flock. 
In the scripture above Jesus says that He is the good shepherd.  We are His sheep.  We listen for His voice and follow Him.  He will lead us, guide us, protect us, and He has laid down His life for us.  He has all the power in the world to save us, without giving His life.  But He did not choose to save Himself.  His willing sacrifice of His own life for His sheep, made it possible for everyone who chooses to come, to have salvation.  He identifies Himself as the good shepherd as He laid down His life for us. 
Sheep really are pretty dumb animals.  They have no direction, and they will follow each other anywhere, even into danger.  They are slow learners and do not learn from painful mistakes the first time.  They are stubborn and not one of the more graceful or beautiful of God’s creations.  They are unpredictable and easily stray where they are not supposed to go.  They need close supervision from their shepherd.  Do any of these characteristics sound familiar?  The only way you would know I am talking about sheep and not people is because I told you I was talking about sheep.   People are guilty of every one of these characteristics and they can get us into some pretty bad situations.  Jesus knew this.  It is no mistake He uses sheep and shepherd as examples.  Just like stubborn sheep, without a shepherd, we will walk right into trouble, especially if we have someone to go with us!  We need the gentle voice of the good shepherd to call to us, lead us and guide us.  We need the loving tug of His staff to pull us back to Him, to safety, where we belong.  We need His love, grace, mercy, and protection. 
The Bible also talks about how the sheep know the voice of their shepherd in John 10:2b:…and the sheep recognize his voice and come to him.  They listen for it and when they hear it, they come.  Listen for the gentle sound of the good shepherd in your life and follow His lead.  Without Him we are lost and He will never lead us astray. 

Scripture to Claim
I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.  And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice.  So there will be one flock, one shepherd. For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again.  No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.  John 10:14-18

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