Why is the relationship between Jesus and his followers compared to the Shepherd and the Sheep?
I have wondering that for years! I kind of knew the answer, basically the Sunday school answer - the shepherd leads the sheep through life and the sheep follow. We should allow Jesus to lead our life. And that is very much true but it goes so much deeper.
The Apostle John uses 7 "I AM" statements throughout his Gospel to explain who Jesus was. One of those I AM statements is found in John 10:11 -"I am the good shepherd." Jesus then goes onto explain more about the good shepherd,
"The good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep. A hired hand (a false prophet or teacher) will run when he sees a wolf coming. He will abandon the sheep because they don't belong to him and he isn't their shepherd. And so the wolf attacks them and scatters the flock. The hired hand runs away because he's working only for the money and doesn't really care about the sheep." and and He goes on...
We learn from Jesus that he loves us so much that he will and does lay his life down for us to protect us from the evil one. And not only protect but to deliver us.
But we can learn so much more about the good shepherd from David in Psalm 23 - one of the most famous Psalms of all times.
"The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name. Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me..."
Sheep are completely dependent on the shepherd. The shepherd guides them to the safe places in life, protects them from harm, and provides for all their needs whether food, water or shelter.
The truth that Jesus is the Good Shepherd gives me hope, however, it's the relationship between the two that challenge me. I'm challenged to be like a sheep. Yes a sheep; an obedient, trustworthy sheep who follows it's master. A disciple of Christ's who allows the Good Shepherd to lead me along peaceful streams restoring my soul, guiding me through the dark valleys and walking along side me. Acknowledging and even honoring God in those times that I need his discipline (rod) and see it as protection for my soul.
A life that is completely surrendered to the Good Shepherd.