When you think about sheep, what comes to mind? I think of contentment, security and provision. That may seem odd, but stick with me.
Sheep aren't required to make many life-changing decisions are they? They really have only one: Will I follow the shepherd or find my own pasture? If they choose to follow the shepherd, everything is taken care of.
Can you relate? As we grow older and more responsibilities fall into (or are placed) in our laps, life can get complicated. When through the leading of the Holy Spirit we follow Jesus, our Chief Shepherd, He takes care of the rest.
He provides us with abundant love, protection from evil, a safe place to rest our heads, our needs amply satisfied, and simple rules to follow. We are His people. His flock. He cares for us.
The shepherds of old led their sheep to pasture and water, protected them from wild animals, and kept a careful count of them. They gave special attention to those needing help. The sheep pens were often caves or rock walls with a narrow entrance in which the shepherds slept. The shepherds would lay across the enclosure so that anything seeking to harm the flock literally had to go through the shepherd.
Jesus, our Good Shepherd, laid down His life for us – His flock. He laid down across the entrance of Hell. That's what we remember this Holy Week. And He did it voluntarily. Scripture tells us that there is no greater love than to lay down a life for another. (John 15:13)
When God sees us, He does not behold a faceless flock. He knows the members of His flock personally and individually. He loves and watches over each and every one of us.
Jesus went down a rough road for us this week in antiquity. But He's the only One who could do it. Jesus takes great joy in bringing home lost sheep. When we are lost in sin or rebellion and stray from Him, He knows it. He laid down His life so we would not be lost eternally. He literally went through Hell so we wouldn't have to.
Will you follow the Shepherd? He's waiting at Calvary.