The Good Shepherd
by James Smith, 1861
This title Jesus claims for himself. Other shepherds may be good comparatively — but he is good absolutely. A good shepherd is one thing, the good shepherd is another. All that a shepherd should be — Jesus is. All that a shepherd should do, Jesus does. He is the Father's shepherd, and looks after his Father's sheep. He is our shepherd, and has taken charge of us. We may sing right joyfully, "The Lord is my shepherd, there is nothing I lack!" because Jesus said, "I am the good shepherd, the good shepherd gives his life for the sheep." John 10:11
The OFFICE.A shepherd.
This implies trust — for he undertakes the charge of the flock, he is entrusted with the sheep.
It includes care — for he is required to watch over, take care of, and provide for all the needs of the sheep.
It requires attention — for the sheep have many needs, are liable to many diseases, and in the east were exposed to many foes.
It is a situation of great responsibility — for the flock is the wealth of the owner. The shepherd becomes answerable for the safety, condition, and prosperity of the flock, up to the amount of his ability.
Just so is Jesus — he is entrusted with the flock of God, all the care of the flock devolves on him, his whole attention is given to it, and he has become responsible for it. Hence speaking of the Jewish part of the flock, he said, "And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd."
The CHARACTER.I am the good shepherd." He knew this, and without either vanity, or pride, or boasting, he could say, "I am the good shepherd."
He was the true shepherd, not a mere hireling. He knew His work. He loved His flock. He cared more for His sheep — than for himself.
He was a kind shepherd. He gathered the lambs with His arm, carried them in His bosom, and gently led those who were burdened. His kindness extended to the whole flock, and to every sheep and lamb in it.
He was the watchful shepherd, who dwells in the midst of His flock, and lest any should hurt it — keeps it night and day. His eye rests on the whole, and follows every one.
He was as wise as He was watchful. He knew the nature, diseases, habits, needs, and dangers of His flock. His wisdom could never be baffled, nor His knowledge be at fault.
He was as self-denying as He was wise. His flock was ever first — Himself last.
For His flock — He suffered,
for His flock — He labored,
for His flock — He died; in consequence of which he could say, "Not one of them is lost!"
Blessed Jesus, help me in all seasons of weakness, want, and woe — to remember that I have a good shepherd — one true of heart, infinitely kind, ever watchful, inconceivably wise, and full of self-denying love!
The PROOF."The good shepherd gives his life for the sheep." His object was to preserve his sheep; rather than part with them — He would die for them.
It was to ransom them — for they had strayed, they had trespassed — and an infinite ransom was demanded, and that ransom He laid down his life to pay.
It was to rescue them. To rescue them . . .
from the grasp of divine justice,
from the jaws of the great destroyer,
from the present evil world, and
from all the penal consequences of their transgressions.
It was in order to present them faultless before the presence of his glory, with exceeding joy; and to surrender them to his Father worthy of his admiration, delight, and highest love. For this he gave his time, his talents, his labors, and his life! O good shepherd — You have you given your life to preserve me from death, to ransom me from Hell, to rescue me from Satan, and present me all glorious to your Father! I will bless you while I live, and will glorify your name forever and ever.
Did not the conduct of Jesus as a shepherd, show special love? Did he not do for his flock — what he did not do for others? Must he not have died for them in a sense in which he did not die for others? Will Jesus obtain his object? Will his flock, his whole flock, be saved? Will he ever lose a lamb? Never! Never! This is his Father's will, and he will carry it out: "I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day."
What induced Jesus to act as he did? The sheep were his Father's property and choice, and such was his love to his Father, that he was willing to lay down his life for them, rather than his Father should lose them. He therefore accepted the sheep at his Father's hand, and undertook the entire charge of them. They were entrusted to him that he might see to their salvation and everlasting glorification. Thus his own character became involved in their destiny. If they are saved — he is honored, exalted, has a name above every name — for doing what no one else could do, and bringing a glory to God, which no one else could bring. But if any of the sheep are lost — the shepherd must bear the blame forever; for he either undertook what he could not do, or he was not faithful to the trust which was committed to him. If he could save, and did not — where is his love? If he would have saved — but could not, where is his power? But the good shepherd can and will save every member of his flock with an everlasting salvation!