Jesus, the Good Shepherd. This title brings to mind one of the most popular and comforting images of our Lord. A grassy vale, shaded with large trees and bordered with a still brook serves as a backdrop of Jesus with a small flock of sheep gathered around His feet. Perhaps there is a staff in one hand and a lamb in the other. However, while it is comforting to think of Jesus and our relationship Him in such a way, are such images really nothing more than expressions of our attempts to escape the fears that weigh on our hearts? With news of a shootout with police in The Home Depot’s parking lot or with a Facebook Live video of a police stand-off at a local convenience store it is easy for fear to cause us to look for an escape. As we read Jesus’ words about being our Good Shepherd, it is doesn’t take much for the images conjured by this language to give expression to our fear-filled desires to escape.
This is not, however, what Jesus intended when He spoke these words. Instead of creating an image for us to hide behind, Jesus is actually trying to bolster our confidence to face our fears – not on our own, but through Him who goes before us. Read what Jesus says, “The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.” (John 10:3-4)
This is important to understand because as Jesus says in Matthew 10:16, “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves.” While this may seem to add to our fears, understood in light of what Jesus says in John 10, we realize there is no need to fear because Jesus is not driving us out into the world as a normal shepherd would. He is leading us from the front, calling us by name to follow Him through this valley of the shadow of death. Yes, all around us are things that can terrify us, wolves who seek to devour us, but we have the confidence to go where we are led because we follow a Shepherd who owns us, who has laid down His life for us so that we do not need to live in fear looking for a means to escape.
Living in this confidence also means that we can go out into the midst of wolves, being sent as the disciples were, to proclaim the love and strength of our Shepherd. A bit further in John 10, Jesus says that there are “other sheep not of this fold [that He] must bring also” (John 10:16). By heeding the voice of Him who calls us to follow, we can bear witness to the grace and mercy Jesus has shown to us as our Good Shepherd.
Along Life's Way
Learning to live life as it’s meant to be. That’s what we strive to do here at Grace, to live under the cross in the new life that we have in Christ through His death and resurrection. The posts on this blog, grounded in God’s Word, will be offered as a source of encouragement, comfort and strength “along life’s way” to the end that we live lives of service in our homes, in our communities and in our congregations.
The author of this blog is the pastor of Grace, Andrew Green. He is a 2000 graduate of Concordia Seminary in St. Louis and has served Grace since January 2002. He is married to Erica and has two children, Clara and John-August.