Jesus — The Good Shepherd

| Morgan Creager

There’s a lot of chaos in our world, and it feels especially heavy right now. With COVID-19, conspiracy theories, injustices of racism and hate, and deaths from coronavirus, it’s easy to feel like the world is spinning out of control. We are in desperate need of rescuing. Only the blood of Jesus can take our sinful world and the craziness around us and redeem it. Only Jesus can take hate and violence and turn it to peace and justice.

Jesus is the Rescuer we desperately need. But He is also our Good Shepherd. In John 10, Jesus tells His audience a story about sheep. After a metaphor which they do not understand, He blatantly states that He is the one they are looking for. He is the Rescuer they need. He is the door to salvation. And He is the Good Shepherd they haven’t thought of. According to Jesus, the Good Shepherd does many things:

A rescuer simply removes a victim from danger, but a shepherd’s skillset is long. He knows His sheep. The shepherd walks with them day in and day out. The shepherd recognizes the needs of His sheep and leads them beside still waters to restore their souls (Psalm 23:1-3). He brings salvation to them, as He is the only way to receive it. He gives the sheep new life and purpose. And He brings sheep from all tribes, tongues, colors, and classes to be a unified sheepfold.

Of course, we are the sheep. It takes humility to admit that. Our society tells us not to be mindless, following political leaders with empty promises, yet being a sheep with a shepherd like Jesus is the safest place to be. We belong to Him and that is a gracious thing. “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned – every one – to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him [Jesus] the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6). Left to our own devices, we earn nothing but destruction. But Jesus bore our sin on Himself. He made a way by becoming that door to salvation for us, and that door doesn’t lead to an empty path. He leads His “mindless sheep” as we surrender to His plans and purposes for our lives – not mindlessly, but freely as we offer up our lives to honor Him. We belong to Him and Him alone. After all, we were paid for with precious blood.

“He was oppressed, and he was afflicted…like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent” (Isaiah 53:7). Jesus is the Lamb of God, and He willingly sacrificed His life to take away the sins of the world, so that we might have new life. He entered into our grieving and broken world that we might know our Good Shepherd fully. Peter says that “Christ also suffered for you” (1 Peter 2:21). He suffered for you, for me, so “that we might die to sin and live to righteousness” (1 Peter 2:24). His bloody death paved the way for us to live differently, with a Good Shepherd to guide us and an Overseer for our souls (1 Peter 2:25).

Having a Good Shepherd means that we are not only rescued, but we are also being sanctified. Jesus is not afraid to get His hands dirty. The Shepherd, with His day-in, day-out tasks to help the sheep flourish, invests to make us more like Himself. It’s a slow process, but He is committed for the long haul. The Shepherd protects, cares for, and nurtures us. He offers us the rest our souls need, the life our souls desire (and I’m not talking about “the American dream”). He is the solution to our COVID-19 problem and our racism problem. He is the one who can offer rest and hope and joy and fullness of life. Let’s be faithful sheep, abiding with their Shepherd, and living full lives with Him.