By Michael Youssef, Ph D. April 26, 2020
Sheep can do very little on their own; they can only follow what another sheep does or where the shepherd’s voice calls. Sheep are helpless and utterly reliant on the commands of their shepherd. Without a shepherd to lead them, they scatter. In Jesus’ time, the hard work of the shepherd was neither prized nor esteemed. Its labor was reserved for the lowest of the low, the less promising young men of the community.
In John 10:11, Jesus made a statement that was probably shocking, even contradictory, to the religious people standing before Him: “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” In this one statement, Jesus refers to Himself as both the I AM—the same almighty Yahweh who spoke to Moses in the burning bush—and a shepherd—tender, lowly, protective, and humble.
The great God of the universe is our Good Shepherd. He stoops down to lead us, to care for our needs, and to defend us. There is no shepherd like Jesus. When we wander, He pursues us relentlessly—not because of our value as helpless sheep, but because of His character.
Only the Good Shepherd lays His life down for us to protect us from the snares of deception, shame, and legalism. Only the Good Shepherd can guide us to the pasture we are all looking for—pastures of freedom, joy, contentment, and refreshment. He knows each of the sheep in His flock individually, speaking and guiding each of us in the way we need. He is not the kind of shepherd who leaves when we stray, but He is always with us and even pursues us. God’s love for His sheep is truly unfathomable.
Now, more than ever, conflicting voices are vying for our attention. Do you know the voice of the Good Shepherd? It is not the slick voice of the thief; it is not the threatening roar of the wolf; it is not the apathetic voice of the hireling (see John 10:7-13). No, it is the protective, powerful, tender, affectionate voice of the one who loved us all the way to the cross and will love us all the way to the end.
When circumstances tempt you to wander, will you trust in the Good Shepherd? Jesus knows His sheep. He knows your every weakness and limitation; He knows how to bless you and how to encourage you. You are not lost in His flock because He sees you and He knows you intimately. What pasture is God leading you to? Whether it is time to receive Christ for the first time, to receive freedom and healing, or to share your faith—follow Him!
Prayer: God, show me the areas of my life where I am afraid to follow You, the Good Shepherd. Thank You for faithfully protecting, providing for, and guiding me. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
“I know my sheep and my sheep know me . . . and I lay down my life for the sheep” (John 10:14-15).