Advent || Day 1 || Good Shepherd
“The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing…he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.”
Psalm 23:1, 3 NIV
“The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice.”
John 10:3-4 NIV
“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep.”
John 10:11, 14-15 NIV
Another name of Jesus is the “good shepherd”. I don’t know any Shepherd’s so it is hard to comprehend what this name means to me. But Jesus describes this name by what He does. And that’s what all of His names do – they exist because of what Jesus does for us, not just by what He says about Himself.
The sheep recognize the Shepherd’s voice. It means the Shepherd is talking with His sheep. When I became a Christian it was really hard to know the voice of Jesus. I didn’t know if it was my own conscience, His voice, or echoes of my mom telling me how to live. As I kept listening to and pursuing Him I began to distinguish my own voice in my head with His. But I had to trust the voice. It takes a little bit of faith to believe He is speaking to me and the voice I hear is His. When I do trust it and have the faith for it, I have heard the shepherd guide me and direct my steps in ways I could have never made up on my own.
A shepherd cares for, nurtures, protects, and guides. Jesus can be trusted and relied on. We have an open invitation to draw near to Him without fear or hesitation. He is not indifferent to our pain or suffering. He is not surprised by our failings, mistakes, and struggles. He is never caught off guard, but is waiting with open arms for us to run to Him for grave, mercy, and help. Human nature is to hide our weaknesses from others, to put on a happy face around people, to swallow our sorrow to make others comfortable. But Jesus has a tender heart for His people that melts for us, that moves for us, that yearns for us, that endures with us, that will comfort us, that pours out mercy on us… so that we need not fear God’s judgment, ridicule, disappointment, rejection, or frustration when we come to Him just as we are.
Recently I had an Uncle pass away and then this week another Uncle’s health was failing. If I think of God as a distant, disappointed Judge instead of a nurturing Shepherd I won’t run to Him in moments like these where I desperately need a word of hope. I will look somewhere else. But I know He is a good shepherd, so I come boldly to His throne of grace because love and mercy are found there.
– Steve Mickel