Our scripture this morning is Psalm 23.
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
This is probably the best known Psalm of all, and appropriate for this week’s Gospel lesson from John 10 where Jesus says we are His sheep. The concept of the Lord as a shepherd had been written about many years before Jesus came as a human, but people still didn’t understand the full meaning of this saying. As we have read, being likened to sheep is not always a favorable comparison.
However, Jesus never referred to us negatively as sheep. He wanted us to see that our relationship was similar, that He was willing to do whatever was necessary to protect and save us if we only put our trust in Him. As the flock can follow their shepherd with confidence so we can follow Christ, with the assurance that He will lead us home.
Jesus teaches that we must choose to follow, we are not forced. Unlike sheep, we are responsible for our decision to obey. I hope you will read Psalm 23 in a new light today, hearing the thankfulness of an obedient follower and the promise made to us if we are faithful to our Good Shepherd.
Gracious God, we are grateful for the blessings You send, none more wonderful than our risen Savior. Thank You for being the shepherd of Your people, leading us to the joy of eternal life. Amen.