Jesus’ “I AM” statements continue to bring comfort. He said:
“Before Abraham was, I am,” (John 8:58).
(i.e. He is eternal.)
“The light shines in the
darkness, and the darkness
has not overcome it,” (John 1:5.)
“I am the resurrection and the life; he who
believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live,
and whoever lives and believes in me
shall never die,” (John 11:25-26).
I am the way, and the truth, and the life;
no one comes to the Father but by me, (John 14:6).
There are many more “I AM” statements, which I hope to write about later.
The one for today is “I am the Good Shepherd.”
A good shepherd takes good care of his sheep. He provides nourishment by leading them to good grazing places, protects them from predators, leads them to drinking water, and “anoints” their heads with oil to keep the flies and other insects away from their nostrils and ears. If they stray, he goes looking for them, and if they are hurt, he carries them in his arms to safety and medical care. He loves them. (Psalm 23 gives a beautiful picture of the Lord as the good shepherd who protects and provides for his sheep.)
In her book, Day by Day: Hope For Senior Wisdom, RJ Thesman calls readers’ attention to our Good Shepherd. As his lambs, she says, we are “so close to him (we) can hear his heartbeat.” (p. 13).
Are you that close to Jesus? Can you hear his heartbeat? Can you hear that he loves you and others? When you read the Bible, can you ‘hear’ his love for humankind?
Sometimes we must experience sickness or injury before we can get close enough to trust our Good Shepherd and recognize his voice. That is when he picks us up and carries us close to his heart.
Jesus also likened himself to the gate of the sheepfold. After the shepherd brought the sheep to the fold for the night, he would lay himself down in the doorway, the gate of the sheepfold, so he could protect them from any animal or thief that might try to get in. Jesus said, “I lay down my life for the sheep,” and that is what he did on Calvary. He laid down his life to provide for our safety, (our salvation).
Psalm 100 declares that we are not only created by the Lord God, but also —
we are His sheep … and He is good; “His steadfast love endures forever,
and His faithfulness to all generations.”
My first impression was that I’m not sure I’d like to be called a sheep. I thought of sheep as dumb, smelly creatures, helpless against wily coyotes, and rattlesnakes, stupid enough to stray and get into baa-d situations. Yet, that describes many of us. Dumb decisions get us into trouble. We are all ‘smelly’ sinners until cleansed by faith in the blood of Jesus Christ. We certainly need protection against our predators, (who are mainly Satan and all his evil forces, who do his bidding).
In claiming to be the Good Shepherd, Jesus was claiming to be God, whom the Psalmist called “The Lord—my shepherd.” Because he wanted to be our good shepherd, “Jesus went about … teaching … and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every disease and every infirmity. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd” (Matthew 9:36). Eventually, he laid down his life and died for us, defeating the evil chains of sin and setting us free to choose God.
After arising from the dead, he is alive and is our shepherd forevermore!