That Great Shepherd

by James Smith, 1860


The offices of the Lord Jesus Christ are all important and are fraught with comfort and consolation to the Christian. His titles are full of meaning and cannot he devoutly studied without great benefit. Perhaps no title was more early assumed, or was better understood in the East, than that of a Shepherd. In this character, the dying patriarch spoke of him. In this character, the Psalmist sung of him. In this character, the prophets predicted him. In this character, the Apostles preached and wrote of him. He called himself "the good shepherd," Peter called him "the chief shepherd," and Paul called him, "that great Shepherd of the sheep." Hebrews 13:20.

Jesus is styled "That GREAT Shepherd." That great shepherd that was promised, that was predicted, that was expected, and that was so greatly needed. He may he called that great Shepherd on account of . . .
the dignity of his nature, for he is divine;
the derivation of his authority, immediately from God;
the number of his sheep;
the many under-shepherds he employs;
and the extent of his qualifications.

Look at the strength of his love he laid down his life for his sheep.

Look at his exact knowledge of his flock the name of every sheep and lamb is in his book.

Look at his untiring diligence if only one goes astray, he goes after the one that is lost, until he finds it.

Look at his gentleness and his unceasing care he gathers the lambs in his arms, and carries them in his bosom.

Look his infallible skill, therefore he heals all their diseases.

Look at his power to preserve from danger, for he has power over all flesh.

Look at his wisdom to select their pasture, leading them in green pastures, beside the still waters.

Look at his authority to give eternal life. As he said, my sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: and I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any one pluck them out of my hand."

Put these things together, and say,
if our Shepherd is divine in his nature;
if he is commissioned to take care of the flock immediately by the Father;
if his flock is innumerable;
if his under-shepherds are so many;
and if his qualifications are perfect
ought he not to be called "that great shepherd of the sheep!"

Look at his qualifications, and say,
if his love is stronger than death,
if his knowledge of his sheep is exact,
if his diligence is untiring,
if his gentleness is great,
if his skill is infallible,
if his power is universal,
if his wisdom is perfect,
if his care is incessant, and
if he has authority to give eternal life to every one of his flock
  are not his qualifications complete?

The Lord's people are styled "The Sheep." By this figure they are set forth, and it describes their excellencies, for like their Lord they are . . .
meek
and lowly in heart,
patient
under privations, tribulations, and trials,
and useful always and everywhere.

Every Christian should be meek, patient, and useful, nor do they prove that they are the sheep of Christ, if they are not.

It describes them in their failings too. They have . . .
not the strength of the lion,
nor the fleetness of the deer,
nor the cunning of the fox,
nor the courage of the dog
but they are timid, defenseless, and prone to wander.

So timid are they that half their time, they are filled with doubts, fears, and misgivings!

So defenseless are they that all their safety lies in their shepherd's presence, power, and love!

So prone to wander are they that they turn aside like a broken bow.

Reader, are you one of the Savior's sheep?

Do you hear his voice?

Do you follow him?

Do you answer to the character given above?

Are you in the fold of Christ?

Do you feed there, find repose there, and enjoy the shepherd's care there?

If you are not of the sheep of Christ now then you will be eternally separated from them by and bye; if you are not folded with them on earth, you cannot be in heaven. The day is coming, when his word will be fulfilled, as it is written, "When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

Then the King will say to those on his right: Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world!'

Then he will say to those on his left: Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels!" Matthew 25