The Best Shepherd
Remember this picture of the Good Shepherd carrying the lamb?
Ever wonder why He is almost ALWAYS depicted carrying a lamb??
Well, sheep are pretty dumb. They tend to run off, find precarious cliffs and precipices that they then fall off of to their death! A shepherd has to tend his sheep very carefully, and train his sheep to STAY with him and not wander off, not because the shepherd is possessive or is having a power trip, but for the sheep’s own safety.
Shepherds had a great strategy for teaching their wild woolies not to run away: when a lamb left the flock, the shepherd left the flock to find that sheep (sound familiar?), and when he found it, he would bring it back to the flock. Just like the gospel!
What Jesus didn’t have to say (because His 1st century audience would have already known) was what that shepherd did when he got the lamb back with the rest of the sheep to teach that lamb not to run to danger again. He broke its legs.
The modern man’s reaction to this reality is one of horror: WHY would the shepherd hurt the baby lamb? It didn’t know any better! Why cause it pain for an innocent mistake?!
Understand though: what may have been an innocent mistake would not end so innocently for the lamb if it meant the little guy starved, fell to its death, or was killed. The shepherd though, in mercy, did not just break the legs of his lamb. He then carried the wounded animal on his shoulders until the little legs healed and became strong again. By breaking the lamb’s legs, he taught it a lesson that, while it hurt for a little while, would ultimately save its life. The shepherd understood that broken legs hurt, but death is worse. Legs will heal. Lives, once lost, are lost forever.
Now compare this to the Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ. Speaking only for myself, I can say that my Shepherd has had to break my legs a few times, but just as the shepherds in 1st century Israel, He never fails to carry me through healing back to strength. Yes, it hurts. But hurts heal, and the wisdom and faith gained brings life in Christ.
When it comes to our souls, Jesus isn’t playing around. The life of our souls is infinitely more valuable to Him than anything else – that’s why He died a gruesome, humiliating death to save our souls from Eternal Death.
So, dear little Soul, trust your Good Shepherd, even when He has to carry you for a while.
“I am the Good Shepherd; I know My sheep and Mine know Me.” –John 10:14