The Good Shepherd

What image comes into your mind when you think of a shepherd?

 On countless occasions during my travels to many countries in Africa and Asia, I have seen young boys driving their rag-tag collection of cows, goats or sheep. They force the animals forward, stick in hand, striking the animals extremely hard on their backsides to keep them moving and throwing stones at them to compel the animals to move in the right direction.

In direct contrast to that, a number of years ago, our family was on holiday in southern France, and we observed a shepherdess caring for her sheep. She was walking slowly along the lane, keeping pace with her sheep which surrounded her. She was leading them, talking to them, gently moving them in the path she wanted them to go, for she knew what was best for them. The next day we saw her again, sitting on a rock in a field, surrounded by her contented sheep, who were nibbling the good grass. She evidently knew them well, talking tenderly to them, searching through their woollen coats, extracting burrs, thistles and other unwanted irritants, looking for cuts, grazes and bruises which she carefully tended.

I was reminded of the wonderful description in the Bible, of our Lord Jesus, our Good Shepherd:

“He calls His own sheep by name and leads them out. They follow Him because they know His voice … I am the Good Shepherd; I know My sheep and My sheep know Me”

This raises questions we should ask ourselves;   ‘Do I know the Lord Jesus as my Shepherd?’

… ‘Do I recognise His voice?’   … ‘Am I following His leading?’   … ‘Do I know His loving care?’

Good sheep are contented sheep; encouraged, secure, reassured and strengthened through difficult days as they follow their Master, the Good Shepherd. King David knew the truth of that when he wrote:

  “The Lord is my Shepherd … He guides me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me, Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me”

We all pass through days of deepest darkness. I know of two very deep, steep-sided valleys whose depths never see direct sunlight; one in Sikkim, India and one in the Judean desert, Israel. And life can be like that. But for the Christian, there is the wonderful assurance of the leading of our Saviour, our Great Shepherd, with His guiding staff in one hand and His rod of discipline against all enemies in the other. There is absolutely no reason to be fearful!

The word of God says that the day is coming when;   

                                                      “hearts will melt with fear …

…men will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world …”

But we are also encouraged to:   Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you

What great safety and security there is knowing the truths of God’s Word:

 “My sheep listen to My voice; I know them, and they follow Me.

I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish;

no-one can snatch them out of My hand”

That assurance … that safety … that security can be yours

… today, if, in humble repentance, you call to Him,

 

Ron Brickman