Shepherd is repeatedly the metaphor the Bible uses to describe Jesus’ relationship to His people. In John 10:11 Jesus refers to Himself as the Good Shepherd. In Matthew 9:36 Jesus is moved with compassion because the crowds were like sheep without a shepherd. The 23rd Psalm declares, “The Lord is my shepherd.”
The 23rd Psalm not only informs us that the Lord is a shepherd, it goes on to tell us what a shepherd does. One of the abilities of a shepherd is to make the sheep lie down in green pastures. It is near impossible for us to appreciate the power of this part of a shepherd’s work without hearing from an actual shepherd.
W. Philip Keller worked as a shepherd and shares what that work taught him about Jesus, the Good Shepherd, in a book titled, “A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23.” Keller writes that getting sheep to lie down is much more difficult than it may seem.
Four Conditions For Peaceful Sheep:
- They must be free of all fear.
- They must be free from friction with other sheep.
- They cannot be tormented from flies or parasites.
- They must be free from hunger.
Sheep will not lie down without these four conditions being met. In much the same way Christians are unlikely to be at peace without these same four conditions being met. These four conditions speak to the real needs of our hearts, and the gospel reveals how Jesus satisfies each of them.
Through the cross Jesus conquered the greatest of all fears, the fear of death. Through the cross Jesus broke down the barriers that separate us. Through the cross Jesus disarmed the enemies of our souls. Through the cross Jesus becomes living bread for our spiritual hunger.
I am thankful for the cross. I am grateful that I have a good shepherd who frees me from fear, friction, flies, and hunger. Are you lying down in green pastures today?