“Morning by morning, O Lord, you hear my voice”
The Good Shepherd
(Please read John 10:11-14)
In the Old Testament there are numerous references to God as the true shepherd of Israel. Ezekiel’s prophecy includes a whole chapter (34) concerning God as the good shepherd and false leaders as evil shepherds. That chapter includes the prophecy, in God’s words, “I will place over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he will tend them and be their shepherd” (NIV). The prophecy did not refer to the literal king David, who was dead, but to David’s descendant, Jesus.
Jesus said, “The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep,” and “I lay down my life for the sheep.” Can you read this without thinking of the cross, where Jesus laid down his life for those who follow him, his “sheep”? Shepherds sometimes lost their lives defending their sheep, but they didn’t do so voluntarily.
The relationship of shepherd and sheep is compared with that of Jesus and the Father. They know each other, and although his “sheep” do not know the Good Shepherd that well, they do know him. His love forgives them, they serve him and his Spirit guides them, and a bond exists between him and them. Jesus is also called the Chief Shepherd and the Shepherd and Overseer of our souls.
Shortly before his ascension Jesus referred to his followers as sheep and lambs when he told Peter (and the other apostles) to feed his lambs and tend his sheep (John 21:15-17). Elders of the church have the same responsibility today, to take care of the flock with loving care, with the assurance that they will be rewarded by the Chief Shepherd.