Our Good Shepherd (Part 2)

Anastasiya Gorski

May 10, 2024

Have you ever wondered why Jesus mentions the shepherd-sheep relationship so much in His teaching? This is a central Biblical metaphor for our walk with Christ—He is our Good Shepherd, and we are His sheep!

Let's see what we can learn about Jesus as our Good Shepherd by taking a closer look at how shepherds care for their sheep.

what does a good shepherd do?

1. The shepherd leads his sheep by his voice.

The nomadic shepherds in Israel travel the land with flocks of fat-tailed sheep, leading their sheep by their voices as they walk. This fat-tailed breed of sheep instinctively follows the shepherd's voice for food, drink, and protection. The shepherd repeatedly calls out, “Oh, oh, oh!” so that the sheep always have his voice to follow.

Sheep follow their shepherd's voice because they learn that the shepherd faithfully provides for them everything they need. They grow to love him and his faithful love and sacrifice for them. In John 10:27 Jesus tells us He does the same thing for us: “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.

2. The shepherd leads the sheep to food.

For most of the year in Israel, food for the sheep is scarce, so shepherds must continually lead their flocks from place to place to keep them fed. In John 6:35, Jesus describes how He sustains us in the same way: “Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.

Our Good Shepherd feeds us with His own up-closeness!

3. The Shepherd provides water for the sheep.

Look now through the eyes of a sheep. You have journeyed many miles to your next pasture, with the sun beating down on your fleecy back. Man, your mouth is dry, but you cannot see a drop of water anywhere. Except for the wet spring season, most water in Israel is found inside deep wells. This means that sheep have to rely completely on their shepherd to draw water for them.

In Biblical times, the shepherd often had to roll away a stone to access the well water, just like the stone that was rolled away when Jesus resurrected: “When all the flocks were gathered there, they would then roll the stone from the mouth of the well and water the sheep, and put the stone back in its place on the mouth of the well” (Genesis 29:3).

Jesus tells us in John 4:14: “Whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.” Through His death, burial, and victorious resurrection, our Good Shepherd rolls away the stone and gives us living water!

4. our good shepherd protectS us from the enemy.

When night falls, the sheep's greatest danger starts howling in the distance: wolves. Even swift, agile gazelles often fall prey to packs of wolves. On their own, sheep stand no chance against a wolf.

To protect their sheep, shepherds would build a pen for them, made of low, stone walls. The shepherds left a single, narrow opening along the stone wall—wide enough for just one sheep or man to pass. The shepherd himself sat inside the narrow gate, to guard his sheep. Nothing could get in or out, without first going through the shepherd.

This is a picture of Jesus' statements in:

John chapter 10: “I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture” (John 10:9).

Matthew chapter 7: “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14).

The flock relies wholly on the shepherd, who, in Biblical times, carried rods, slings, and other weapons to defend his sheep. Only the presence of the shepherd could save the sheep from enemies.

Weekly Challenge

I invite you to praise God today for all that He does for you as your Good Shepherd! He labors and endures, so that you and I can have true nourishment, living water, and protection from the enemy. Praise Him for conquering sin and death for you and for His provision to this day!

Check out Part 1 of the Good Shepherd Devotional Series, and come back to the Forge blog next week for Part 3: How Can We Follow Our Good Shepherd?