11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
In the day this passage and many like it was written, I think people would have had a way better understanding of it’s significance. Shepherds were often looked upon as pretty low on the social scale, and yet everyone also knew that a good, dedicated shepherd would actively put his life on the line for the sheep he(or she) tended. Whether it be to protect the sheep from wolves or bears, climbing cliffs to rescue stranded lambs, it was a dangerous job. A shepherd would not abandon his sheep no matter what, and because of this, the sheep would build a trust relationship with the shepherd also. Over time, the sheep would come to know the shepherds voice, understand that he was their protector and that he was their provider as well because it was his job to find fresh water and good grass to graze. They would literally follow his voice anywhere.
It’s hard to picture this nowadays, with our farms having good fences, motorized vehicles to patrol the pastures, high caliber guns to help protect from predators. So when Jesus called himself the Good Shepherd, there was understanding of what He was saying, and I would dare say it invoked a peaceful, safe feeling in many of their hearts.
11 “‘For this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I myself will search for my sheep and look after them. 12 As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness. 13 I will bring them out from the nations and gather them from the countries, and I will bring them into their own land. I will pasture them on the mountains of Israel, in the ravines and in all the settlements in the land. 14 I will tend them in a good pasture, and the mountain heights of Israel will be their grazing land. There they will lie down in good grazing land, and there they will feed in a rich pasture on the mountains of Israel. 15 I myself will tend my sheep and have them lie down, declares the Sovereign Lord. 16 I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak, but the sleek and the strong I will destroy. I will shepherd the flock with justice.
Lord we are so grateful that you are the Good Shepherd. You are our protector and provider. We know we can always trust Your voice and your calling. Thank you for literally putting your life on the line for each one of us. Thank you for your word, help us all to find strength and comfort in it today. In Jesus name, amen.