The 23rd Psalm; a very familiar passage and perhaps the most quoted poetry from the Old Testament. In John 10, Jesus explains that he is the good shepherd. He is not a hireling, but loves the sheep, and would lay down his life for them. He has been entrusted by the Father to care for the sheep. And of course, we’re the sheep.
We’ve all seen pictures of Jesus holding a lamb. But it’s more than a cute analogy. Sheep must be cared for. They have few natural defenses, and are very near sighted. They need the shepherd. We too are no match for the devil, often nearsighted (or blind), and desperately need the Good Shepherd.
Jesus is also the Lamb of God. He is our shepherd in the sense that he cares for God’s flock, but he is the lamb in the sacrificial sense. Jesus is the sacrificial lamb that takes away the sin of the world. He’s like the Passover lamb that saves us from God’s judgement. Just like the Hebrews slaughtered the lamb in Egypt, and displayed the blood on the door post, the blood of Jesus covers a multitude of our sins. Before the Hebrew slaves ate the Passover in Egypt, Abraham was prepared to sacrifice his son Isaac. But instead offered a ram caught by its horns in a thicket. He told Isaac going up the mountain that God would provide a sacrifice. And so the substitute sacrifice was made in Isaac’s place. In our place, Jesus hung on the cross. God provided for himself a sacrifice. It was God’s will to crush him (Is. 53)
At some point, every analogy breaks down. In some ways, Jesus is like a shepherd. He is also like a lamb of sacrifice. These word pictures help us understand the love of God that surpasses understanding. These words of Jesus are straightforward and true: “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father but by me.” In whatever way we understand him, Jesus is our only way. He is our all and our everything.
Hear this sermon: Jesus, Sheep or Shepherd