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The Good Shepherd

The Lord is our shepherd who chases down the lost sheep.

When most of us think of sheep, a smart or admirable creature doesn’t come to mind. For starters, sheep have no sense of direction. They will usually follow the rest of the flock or whatever leads them, even if they are being led right off of a cliff. They lack good judgement and will usually settle for what is most accessible or visually enticing to them, which could harm or even kill them. They are virtually defenseless against any threats—their main line of defense is to kick or run away—and it doesn’t take much to get themselves into trouble and end up on their backs, needing a shepherd to come and flip them over. And unlike other farm animals that are used for labour, sheep are not physically strong or sturdy—they weren’t made for work or to carry heavy weight. Some may take offense to being called a sheep but the Biblical analogy of the Lord as a shepherd and His children as His sheep is actually a loving reference of how deeply God loves and cares for us.

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd."

John 10:11-16

One of Jesus’ most popular parables tells of a good shepherd who left his 99 sheep safely grazing in the pasture to search for one sheep who had gone astray. To the shepherd, each and every one of his sheep was valuable to him and he would unquestioningly risk his life to find his missing sheep—calling out to it, rejoicing when he finds it, and carrying it back to safety with the rest of the flock. In this way, God the Father sent His Son Jesus on an important rescue mission to seek and save the lost. He is our shepherd and we are His sheep. In searching for the lost, God doesn’t discard the other 99 but He knows they are safely in His care, attended by His angels and guided by His Holy Spirit. He actively chases down the ones that He knows are in desperate need of His protection and calls out to them to come back to them.

At some point in our life, we have all been that lost sheep. The Bible tells us that we have all gone astray, followed our own path and have fallen short of the glory of God but then Jesus became the sacrificial lamb to bring us back into relationship with Him. If he hadn’t taken that first step for us, we would have been lost forever without any chance of salvation. But God deeply loves and values every one of His children and when just one of them finds their way back to Him, all of Heaven rejoices. Just like sheep, were not designed to live without the protection and care of our Creator and Shepherd. Without Him, we are vulnerable to a number of dangers that can cause us pain and suffering. We can rest today knowing that like a good shepherd, God will provide for us, lead us along the right paths and protect us from any harm and danger.


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