July 23, 2018 by Linda Maynard
“Mom, could you please not yell during my games?”
I couldn’t believe my ears. My sweet son was asking me to keep my mouth closed during his baseball games! I’d spent years trying to be the best baseball mom possible. I wore the team colors, packed the favorite Gatorade flavors, and dutifully delivered him to practices and games for more days than I could count. And when it was his turn at bat, I cheered him on to victory! Or so I thought.
Unfortunately for my son, despite the cheers of an entire bleacher section of fans, he only heard one voice. A voice he knew well, and it wasn’t music to his ears. My yells actually unnerved my boy. So, because he asked, I began to cheer on the inside, allowing nary a yell to slip through my lips.
As children of God, we also have the privilege of hearing and knowing a voice above all others—the voice of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Unlike the grating sound of my voice in my son’s ear, however, our Savior’s voice brings the blessings of a good shepherd. In John 10, Jesus confronts the religious shepherds of that day—the Pharisees. The Pharisees had been guilty of lording their positions over the Jewish people, demanding their respect while heaping heavy loads of rules and regulations on their backs. Rather than guiding the Jews with words of encouragement, the Pharisees were pummeling them with their pontifications and unnerving them with their grating, back-breaking legalism. The Jews were left wandering through life like sheep without a shepherd.
In contrast to their ways, Jesus described Himself as “the good shepherd” (John 10:11) who blesses his flock specifically, strategically, and sacrificially.
- Christ shepherds specifically. Jesus calls his sheep out by name and leads them. Isaiah 43:1 tells us, “I have called you by name, you are mine.” In Psalm 23, the shepherd David says, “The LORD is my shepherd” (vs 1, emphasis added). As a believer in Christ, you are His!
- Christ shepherds strategically. Jesus tells us that once he has called us by name, he goes before us, leading the way. We follow him because we know His voice. And Psalm 23 reminds us that Christ makes us lie down in green pastures and leads us beside cool waters. Christ’s leading brings life.
- Christ shepherds sacrificially. The good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep. Other than Christ, David is arguably the most famous shepherd in the Bible. David himself describes delivering a lamb out the mouths of attacking lions or bears (1 Samuel 17:34-35). But Jesus goes far beyond. Jesus rescued his wandering sheep by becoming the sacrificial lamb himself. He died on the cross to pay the penalty for all of our sins, then rose to life, that we might live forever with him!
Friend, if we are at all familiar with the 23rd Psalm, we know the scary stanza that begins, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death…” If we have lived on this earth for any time at all, we know that life’s paths lead through dark valleys where the shadow of death looms large. Under the Lordship of our Good Shepherd, however, we can echo the declarations of David, who goes on to say, “I will fear no evil. For thou art with me. Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me” (vs 4). Our Shepherd knows us and calls us by name! As members of His flock, His voice rings clearer than any other voice in our ears. We can follow him, knowing he will provide. He staked his life on it, and we can stake ours on him.