The Good Shepherd: Better Than a Good Sheepdog

Exalting Christ in community and mission

The Good Shepherd: Better Than a Good Sheepdog

In the incarnation of Christ, we see the fulfillment of so many familiar prophecies from the OT, such as being born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14) in Bethlehem (Micha 5:2) from the tribe of Judah (Genesis 49:10).  Rightly we marvel at these wondrous predictions.  We also realize how Jesus perfectly fulfilled the OT offices of prophet, like Moses, priest, like Melchizedek, and king (like David). We benefit from his perfect activity in these offices.

One fulfillment that we often overlook occurs in a thread that runs consistently through Scripture.  The Lord is my shepherd (Psalm 23) depicted God Himself as the shepherd who protected (rod), provided (makes me lie down in green pastures) and even pursued (goodness and mercy will follow me).  But then that perfect picture of a shepherd who cared for each of us individually was corrupted by the corrupt shepherds of Jeremiah 23 who destroyed and scattered the Isrealites as God’s covenant people.  God prophecies in Ezekiel 34 that “I myself will search for my sheep and will seek them out.”

If there ever were a clearer picture in Scripture that should humble and remind us of our nature and need, it is that of us as sheep.  We wander, get scared, injured and are only truly safe when we hear the right voice.  We long for true healing and restoration. In the amazing story of the feeding of the five thousand in Mark 6, we get the side by side picture of the evil shepherd, Herod, who kills and destroys sheep (John the Baptist) vs. Jesus who provides for the fearful flock “because they were like sheep without a shepherd.”  Our Lord Jesus came to us sheep who desire to be independent and prideful, that we might rather be humble and dependent, resting in His provision for us.  In the final mention of “shepherd” in the Bible, Revelation 7 gives us the promise that the Lamb will be our shepherd, wiping away every tear from our eyes.

Rev. Darol Timberlake