My senior year of high school, I had the incredible opportunity to travel through Ireland, a beautiful, relaxed and serene country. During a drive through the Ring of Kerry, we were winding our way around tight curves on narrow gravel roads, then all of sudden, we turned a corner and entered into a deep, green, lush valley full of sheep tended by their shepherd. This image has been forever burned into my memory as one of the most tranquil scenes I’ve ever experienced. Certainly, I’ve enjoyed views of the peaceful mountains or the calmness of the constant ocean waves, but to experience something so closely tied to descriptions of our Lord is a remarkable occasion.
We’re all familiar with the 23 Psalms:
The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing.He makes me lie down in green pastures,He leads me beside quiet waters,He refreshes my soul.He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.Even though I walk through the darkest valley,I will fear no evil, for you are with me;your rod and your staff, they comfort me.You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life,and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
The sheep in the field in Ireland were minding their own business as they were grazing on the hillside. Nothing was bothering them; nothing was getting in their way. They were doing what they were supposed to be doing in that moment, with no extra strains or unnecessary stresses. They knew that they were being cared for and protected by their shepherd who was near, guiding and guarding them through life’s journey. The Lord is our shepherd and we too can live our life in peace and security because we know the Lord is protecting and guiding us along our path. He will show us His way and what He desires for us to do in every moment as long as we’re willing to follow Him.
It is prophesied in Micah 5:5 that a Messiah will come to shepherd God’s flock, and when He does, He will bring peace: “He will stand and shepherd His flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord His God. And they will live securely, for then His greatness will reach to the ends of the earth, and He will be their peace.” A shepherd is an incredible image of peace, even though leading a heard is hard work and difficult at times, the confidence and boldness of a strong, reliable shepherd creates a firm image of security. Ultimately, when we’re thirsty for peace, we’re seeking that stability.
Jesus is not only the symbolic shepherd; He is the sheep as well. He took our place as a sheep so He could understand how we viewed and survived in the world. In a society full of violence, fear and Satan’s influence, Jesus took on all that darkness so we didn’t have to. The destruction of the world separates us from God, our shepherd, and Jesus placed himself in a position so that sin would never tear us away from God. As a result, when the wolves come to devour God’s sheep, in fear, we ran and left Jesus exposed. He willfully took on that role and sacrificed himself so we could live with God forever. Isaiah 53: 4-6 speaks of this truth, “Surely He took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered Him stricken by God, smitten by Him, and afflicted. But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.
The punishment that Christ received on the cross brings us peace. Death itself can never be peaceful, even though the silence of a body that has passed on, that is no longer in pain or anguish, may seem peaceful. That person is gone, their spirit is no longer present. Their body disintegrates and decomposes into nothing. But, peace comes from the return of our Savior Jesus Christ. He conquered death and raised again. He is alive and He still lives – with us and in heaven. Jesus lives in heaven and sits on the right hand of God our Shepherd while His Holy Spirit lives with in us and guides us through life if we let Him. The Spirit will give us peace, love, joy, strength, kindness, self-control, hope, faith, etc as we rely on Him daily. He will equip us with everything we need to follow Him and live a life for Him. He designed a magnificent life for each of us, and He desires for us to not only pursue that life, but live it to the fullest. “May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing His will, and may He work in us what is pleasing to Him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” Hebrews 13:20-21
Live an incredible life, and in all things give the glory to your Shepherd and The Sheep!