Our example for shepherding is Jesus

There is probably no illustration more profound than that of a shepherd taking care of his sheep. Jesus noted that a good shepherd is one who considers his life expendable for the benefit of the sheep. Think about that for one minute. If a lion was attacking, and you saw both a child and a lamb in harm’s way, which would you protect first? Which has more value? I hope you would protect the child. The lamb has far less value. But the One who was before all time decided that giving his life for a creature of lesser value was to be His loving, selfless act of amazing grace.

The picture for this post is from a 2008 trip to the Milwaukee Zoo. It is one of my favorites because I am carrying this dear little one on my shoulders just like a shepherd might carry a lamb. If a fierce animal had escaped from the cage at the zoo when Violet was four years old and  was going to attack Violet, I would jump in harm’s way to rescue my granddaughter. Make no mistake, I would do the same for the other grandchildren! I would do the same for any child.

Yet the Father of the Heavens, sent his own Son to lay down his life for not just sheep, but rebellious, wandering, deserting, enemy sheep. He sent a Good Shepherd. Jesus told his disciples, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” – John 10:11 Don’t miss the impact of that contrast. The Shepherd for the sheep! And he didn’t just say it, Jesus did it.

On the day we call Good Friday, something amazing happened. The Good Shepherd did what He said He came to do.

The One who was our Creator suffered on a cross and in the process killed the ravaging and brutal lions of Satan, sin and death. But his sacrifice wasn’t just to get us out of harm’s way. It was so that we might “die to sin” and “live to righteousness.” The Apostle Peter said this of the Son of God he deserted before the crucifixion: “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.” (1 Peter 2:24-25) To return to the Shepherd means the Shepherd is ALIVE!

Peter had great and confident hope about the return of the Shepherd. He had seen Jesus go into heaven, he had heard Jesus make amazing promises recorded in John chapter 14 about coming back, he had seen Jesus after the crucifixion and he had heard the announcement of two men in white robes who said that “this same Jesus” you saw go into heaven is coming back. See Acts 1:11. And so, Peter can say with the authority of the words of Jesus that, “And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.” 1 Peter 5:4

Don’t miss these important realities:

  1. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, did the work. I contribute nothing.
  2. The work Jesus did changes lives. Sin is no longer the master.
  3. The healing Jesus accomplished is a permanent healing.
  4. Jesus, our Good Shepherd doesn’t neglect us and knows what we need and provides for our needs. He cared for our souls and is caring for them each moment of the day.
  5. He gave us an assignment. Lose your life for His sake. That might include giving up your life for another one of the little lambs Jesus loves and died for. Follow Jesus and be a shepherd like Him.

Luke 9:23-24 says: “And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.”