Tuesday, July 25, 2023

The Good Shepherd (John 10)

“I am the good shepherd; I know My sheep and am known by My own” (John 10:14).

Whenever anyone comes face to face with the glory of God, they inevitably respond with fear. Ezekiel and the disciples, Moses, Isaiah, and others who beheld the glory of God all fell on their faces, terrified. The humble shepherds who watched their flocks outside of Bethlehem certainly responded in this way when suddenly the glory of the Lord shone about them. They had never seen anything so glorious, so terrifying. They fell prostrate “sore afraid.” But God did not leave them trembling. The angel said, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.” In the same way, God does not leave us in a state of terror, but He comforts us, cares for us, and fills us with joy. That’s because Christ is our Good Shepherd, the episkopos, or bishop, of our souls.

A bishop is an overseer, one who watches over the flock entrusted to his care. The New Testament church appointed men to be overseers, to care for the people in their congregations, to instruct them, to care for their physical and spiritual needs, and to protect them from the dangers of this world. Throughout history, the church has been blessed with many faithful shepherds. In his journal, David Brainerd describes how he tried to serve faithfully as a shepherd and overseer to the New Jersey Indians in the 1740s. Brainerd was one of the first missionaries to the native tribes in America. He served many difficult years in the wilderness—a lone voice in a dark and idolatrous world. As he proclaimed the Gospel to the various tribes, he helped them mend their marriages, pay their debts to the white people who plotted to take their lands, and overcome the drunkenness and habit of theft that was then so prevalent. Brainerd sacrificed his health, and eventually his life, for the Indian tribes to whom he ministered. He was concerned about every aspect of their lives, and to this day, Brainerd is honored as a faithful shepherd to his flock.

Christ is our Great Shepherd, the One who watches over us, protects us, and nurtures us. He carries us home when we wander. He kills the wolves who sneak into the fold. He heals our diseases, and leads us into green pastures. Not one of His flock will ever be lost. That is our comfort and our everlasting joy.

Pray today for your pastors, elders, and deacons. Write your pastor (and associate pastors) a letter encouraging them and thanking them for faithfully watching over their flock, and caring for you. If you have problems with your pastor, pray that God will help him to be a faithful shepherd.