Growing up in Sunday School, I remember one of the first passages of Scripture we were taught to memorize was Psalm 23. Some would be able to recite this Psalm in its entirety, if not at least the first verse which says “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want”. These words carry a weight of comfort for the Child of God.
As I watch my three-month-old son going about life utterly dependent and helpless, I would imagine his little mind thinking, “I have all the milk I need, I shall not want”. Even though he can barely think beyond his next feed, he has the guarantee that all his daily provisions would be met in time by his mum and dad. The Bible refers to us in a similar sense, being like sheep, a creature that is weak, dependent, helpless and foolish. We are drawn to pastures that are “green” in our own minds while being unaware of the dangers that lurk in every corner looking to devour us. How wonderful are the words of Jesus in John 10, where He says that He is the Good Shepherd. I want to draw out three characteristics of our Good Shepherd that would encourage us as we go through this life.
Vs 11 says He lays down His life to protect His own. A hired hand would see the wolf coming and at once flees and leaves the sheep to be snatched by the wolf, but our Good Shepherd protects His own by laying down His life. You can take heart in this life by knowing that the Lord loves His children, knows each by name and would protect you and provide for all your needs. Psalm 23:4 says even though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, there is no reason to fear. Why? Because His rod and His staff comfort you. When we are faced with fear in this world, know that the loving hand of God shelters you under His wings and sustains you.
Vs 14 says He knows each of His own and calls them by name and they follow Him. He will not lose even one of His own. This gives us the assurance that our Good Shepherd will preserve and keep us with Him for all eternity. The apostle Paul in Romans 8 echoes the same by saying nothing in all of creation will ever separate us from the love of God. The Child of God is forever secure in Christ because He will not lose any whom the Father has given to Him. Let this remind you that when you have moments of struggles, you are kept secure in the Lord and He will carry you through until we see Him face to face. His goodness and mercy will follow us all the days of our lives and we will dwell in the house of the Lord forever (Psalm 23:6). This is the promise of our Lord.
Vs 10 says our Good Shepherd came so that we may have life and have it abundantly. In other words, He came to bring Eternal Life. His purpose was to seek and save His lost sheep. We all like sheep have gone astray, each one to his own ways. Yet the Lord in His abounding love came to gather them into His fold. Be strengthened dear beloved, knowing that in the Lord we have everlasting life. None of us will know when our last day on earth will be, but one thing we can be certain about is, that when we close our eyes in this world, we will open them to behold our Good Shepherd’s face.
Just as the Bible refers to us as sheep, it also refers to Jesus Christ as the sheep who before its shearers was silent. He is the perfect Lamb of God who was slain by taking the iniquity of us all. In Christ, we will lack nothing. Let us join with David and proclaim,
The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want”.