Who is your LORD? Who do you worship or serve? Do you know Him personally? Do you fellowship with Him often? How do you perceive Him? Do you know anything about His character, His attributes, His Ways? My LORD is Jesus Christ. He is my Shepherd and a very good one too!
Sometimes our view of Jesus is often too small, too cramped, too provincial, too human. And because it is, we feel unwilling to allow Him to have authority or control – much less outright ownership of our lives. We lack in trusting Him and being able to experience a walk of faith that we are called to because we don’t know who He is. When looking at sheep management, the lot in life of any particular sheep depended on the type of man who owned it. Some were gentle, kind intelligent, brave, and selfless in their devotion to their stock. Under one management sheep would struggle, starve, and suffer endless hardship. In another’s care they would flourish and thrive contentedly. Under God’s care He invites me to consider myself His sheep – His special object of affection and attention.
The relationships given to us to communicate how we are to relate to our Heavenly Father are that of a father and his children and of a Shepherd and his sheep. These concepts were first conceived in the mind of God our Father. They were made possible and practical through the work of Christ. They are confirmed and made real in me and you through the agency of the Holy Spirit.
You and I were bought with a high price. Not only did He create me but He bought me again at the incredible price of His own laid down life and shed blood. Therefore He was entitled to say, “I am the good Shepherd. The good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.” I belong to Him simple because He deliberately chose to create me as in the object of his own affection. he literally lays Himself out for us continually. He is ever interceeding for us; He is ever guiding us by His gracious Spirit; He is ever working on our behalf to ensure that we will benefit from His care.
An interesting mark of sheep is that they don’t “just take care of themselves” as some might suppose. They require, more than any other class of livestock, endless attention and meticulous care. It is no accident that God has chosen to call us sheep. The behavior of sheep and human beings is similar in many ways. Our mass mind or mob instincts, our fears and timidity, our stubbornness and stupidity, our perverse habits are all parallels of profound importance. Yet despite these adverse characteristics Christ chooses us, buys us, calls us by name, makes us His own, and delights in caring for us.
If you know anything about real, live sheep management, you know that each shepherd has his own distinctive earmark which he cuts into one of the ears of his sheep. In this way, even at a distance, it is easy to determine to whom the sheep belongs. It is not the most pleasant procedure to catch each ewe in turn and lay her ear on a wooden block, then notch it deeply with the razor-sharp edge of the knife. There was pain for both sheep and shepherd. But from the mutual suffering an indelible lifelong mark of ownership was made that could never be erased. And from then on every sheep that comes into that shepherd’s possession would bear that shepherd’s mark.
There is an exciting parallel to this in the Old Testament. When a slave in any Hebrew household chose, of his own free will, to become a lifetime member of that home, he was subjected to a certain ritual. His master and owner would take him to his door, put his ear lobe against the door post and with an awl puncture a hole through the ear. For then on he was a man marked for life as belonging to that house. For the man or woman who recognizes the claim of Christ and gives allegiance to His absolute ownership, there comes the question of bearing His mark. The mark of the cross is that which should identify us with Him for all time. The question is – does it?
Jesus made it clear when he stated emphatically, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. Basically, A person exchanges the fickle fortunes of living life by sheer whimsy for the more productive and satisfying adventure of being guided by God.
Can you say as David did, “The Lord is my Shepherd!” Are you thrilled to belong to Him? It is then that we flourish and thrive no matter what life my bring to us. Get to know your Good Shepherd!