Psalm 23 is an excellent description of how God takes care of us. It is almost too familiar to realize its full impact, but for now, we want it to remind us that we are not alone, that God cares enough for us that he sent his Son to be our caregiver.
That caregiver, Jesus/Messiah, healed a blind man on the Sabbath and was forced to defend himself from the Pharisees. The account is in chapter 9 and 10 of John. As part of that defense, Jesus says plainly that he is the gate and the shepherd. In 10:7-9 Jesus describes the importance of the gate.
What he described was the common practice in those days of leading the sheep into a pen at night and leading them to pasture in the morning. The pen was enclosed by a rock wall about four feet high with one opening about four feet wide. At night, a shepherd slept in the opening, blocking the sheep from leaving. Generally, there were several herds in the same enclosure and the shepherds took turns sleeping and walking around the perimeter to ensure there were no intruders. In the morning, the shepherds took turns singing or talking so that his sheep knew which man to follow.
Jesus tells us that he is the gate, he is the way to safety. We get to God through him alone. He also tells us he is the shepherd, the good shepherd. I am the good shepherd, and I know those that are mine and my sheep know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. And I am giving my life for the sake of the sheep. “And I have other sheep who do not belong to this fold. I must lead these also, and they will hear my voice. So there will be one flock and one shepherd. Phillips
I am giving my life for the sake of the sheep, is an indication that Jesus already knew he was going to die, but just as importantly, it tells me what I must expect to do once I choose to be one of his flock.
This is where the image of sheep breaks down. Jesus will care for us, but he wants us to become more than just sheep, mindlessly tagging along. He expects us to become like him, to lay down our own lives to protect those around us who need protection.
It may be a blind man or a man who cannot walk, as happened to Peter and John when Peter gave those stirring words, it was by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene NJB that the man was healed.
In John’s letter, we read, our love is not to be just words or mere talk, but something real and active. NJB That is the secret to becoming a shepherd like Jesus. Sheep eat, drink and rest in safety. Shepherds help them do that, but they also in the human sense help them to become shepherds themselves.
If you are not losing sleep, you are not a shepherd.
Be righteous and do good.