Sheep are definitely not the smartest animals God created! When one sheep decides to go somewhere, the rest of the flock will likely follow. In the hilly terrain of Palestine, this was a source of great danger to sheep. For example, if one sheep jumped off a cliff, and there was no shepherd there to protect them, the whole flock could be lost. Therefore having an alert and vigilant shepherd to watch over them was essential.
In Mark 6:34, it is said of Jesus, “When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. And he began to teach them many things.” Jesus saw those in the great crowd as helpless sheep, unable to defend themselves or make wise choices on their own, like sheep without a shepherd. And He had compassion on them and became the Good Shepherd they were needing.
By examining some of the responsibilities of a shepherd, we can gain more understanding of the meaning of this name of Jesus.
- A good shepherd develops a close, intimate relationship with his sheep so that they know his voice and trust him. “The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.” (John 10:3b ESV)
- A good shepherd works tirelessly to provide protection and security for the sheep. “But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one.” (2 Thessalonians 3:3 NIV)
- A good shepherd provides for the needs of his sheep, leading them to green pastures and fresh water. “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19 ESV)
- A good shepherd searches for his sheep when they stray. “What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? And if he finds it, truly, I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. So it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.” (Matthew 18:12-14 ESV)
- A good shepherd cares for and loves his sheep, sacrificing his life for them if necessary. “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” (John 10:11 ESV)
Jesus, this morning my heart is filled with gratitude that You truly are my Good Shepherd. Thank You for the privilege of knowing You intimately so I recognize Your voice when You speak. Thank You for providing so generously for our needs and for coming after us when we stray. And especially thank You for laying down Your life for me on the Cross. Thank You for being my Good Shepherd.