The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures;
he leads me beside still waters;
he restores my soul.
He leads me in right paths
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
I fear no evil;
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff—
they comfort me.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have all turned to our own way,
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.
I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
The hired hand, who is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away—and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. The hired hand runs away because a hired hand does not care for the sheep.
I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep.
I used to resent being a sheep. To me, all sheep were the same: stupid, timid, meek, embarrassed at having done something wrong. Dumb.
Good sheep do not resent their shepherd. He is their guide, their comfort. He feeds them and protects them. He heals them when they are hurt. They fear nothing and want nothing when he is near. All they must do is trust him.
As Isaiah remarks, however, most sheep are not good sheep. They go their own way. They think they know better. Perhaps they decide they don’t want green pastures or still water.
Even then, the good shepherd does not abandon them. When they wander, he takes the blame on himself. Though he has done everything that he could to keep them safe, they are still in danger. He puts himself into the paths of wolves to find them. He does it to protect the sheep, hoping to bring them back to the safety of the fold.
For he does not see his sheep as dumb. To him, every one is unique. He calls each by name. He loves them and would die for them. He was not hired to care for them; they are not a wad of cash on four legs. Rather, they are his inheritance. Their distress awakens his compassion. He will hunt for them without cease.
With such a shepherd… Maybe being a sheep isn’t so bad…