Jesus is a very remarkable Shepherd. Not only does he call his sheep by name (John 10:3), but he is willing to face savaging by a wolf in order to save them (John 10:11-15). This Shepherd clearly values his sheep very highly. It is a truly astonishing love.
Now sheep are notoriously silly creatures that are famous for being nervous. They have every right to be so. They are vulnerable and virtually defenseless. They desperately need a shepherd.
But how many shepherds are willing to go to these kinds of lengths for their protection? Only One.
But we must ask: Why risk such a valuable life, the life of this amazing Shepherd, for a few sheep? So Jesus reveals more about himself: “I am the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25). This Shepherd is in fact the Son of God (John 10:36). He is the One through whom and for whom the sheep were made. And he is the One through whom and for whom they can be remade by his powerful words and deeds. Death is an imposter in God’s good world, and the Son of God came as a courageous Shepherd to overcome it.
That is why we, like the Psalmist, can walk through the valley of the shadow of death and fear no evil (Psa. 23:4). Not only is the Good Shepherd with us at all times, but he also is both able and willing to defend us from all the assaults of the world, the flesh, and the devil. And even if we die – as one day we will unless the Good Shepherd returns first – that need not be the end. He has risen from his fatal mauling by the wolf, never to die again, so that those who hear his voice and live as his sheep may rise again and live in his presence forever.
We live in a world where howling wolves are heard distressingly often. Dark forces are at large on the earth, and they delight in death and destruction. This is an unsafe planet for unprotected sheep. There is every reason to be nervous if we have no Shepherd or if the Shepherd has been killed but not raised. But, thanks be to God, that is not our situation. The Shepherd lives and rules at the Father’s right-hand side, watching over his sheep day and night.
So, as we continue this journey through Lent, listen to the voice of this remarkable Shepherd – over all the contrary voices. There is no need to be overcome by the strident shouts of secularism. Jesus is the true voice of reason, and the voice of everlasting hope. His sheep will never perish (John 10:28). Surely goodness and mercy will follow you all the days of your life, and you shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever (Psa. 23:6).