Summary: Are we aware how much God cares for His people? Do we appreciate His Goodness?
"I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand is not the shepherd who owns the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me -- just as the Father knows me and I know the Father -- and I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd" (John 10:11-16, NIV).
What makes the shepherd different from the hired man?
While the hired hand "cares nothing for the sheep," the shepherd cares so much for his flock.
And if an ordinary shepherd shows such concern, should we not expect God to have greater concern for His people?
Peter wrote, "Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you" (1 Peter 5:7, NIV).
Before the Israelites were delivered from Egypt, God told the elders of Israel through Moses, "I have watched over you..." -- NASV states, "I am indeed concerned about you..." -- "and have seen what has been done to you in Egypt..." (Exodus 3:16, NIV.) And in Exodus 4:31, we read: "...And when they (the elders) heard that the Lord was concerned about them and had seen their misery, they bowed down and worshiped" (NIV).
Consider also what the prophet Isaiah wrote how God, like a shepherd, cares for His people:
"He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young" (Isaiah 40:11, NIV).
Like a shepherd, God cares for His own people, as described in these words: "gathers...in his arms," "carries...close to his heart," and "gently leads..."
Israel or Jacob acknowledged the great concern to him by his Creator, when he ascribed to Him: "...the God who has been my shepherd all my life to this day, the Angel who has delivered me from all harm..." (Genesis 48:15-16, NIV.)
Of course, David enumerated in Psalm 23 what God -- his Shepherd -- did to him: He makes him "lie down in green pastures." He leads him "beside quiet waters." He "restores" his soul. He guides him "in paths of righteousness." He is with him. His rod and his staff "comfort" him. He prepares a table before him. He anoints his head with oil.
And because of the extra-ordinary goodness he experienced from his Shepherd, David was confident "goodness and love will follow him" not only during his life on earth, but he can look forward to "dwell in the house of the Lord forever."
Truly, as a "Shepherd," God is good, not only for what He does, but because of He is. As David declared, "You are good, and what you do is good" (Psalm 119:68).
No wonder Jesus Christ, the only Begotten Son of God, called Himself the "good shepherd." He has evey reason to say that because not only of the good things He does for His followers, but He is not only an ordnary human being -- He is God, who alone is good (Luke 18:19).
And as the Good Shepherd, how much He cares for His flock?
"The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep."
Romans 5:6-8 states, "You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ dies for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sineers, Christ died for us" (NIV).
We also read in 1 Corinthians 15:3, "Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures" (NIV).
If the Good Shepherd was even willing to give up His own life to benefit the flock, is there anything good He would withhold from them?
"He who did no spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all ("all" in his flock -- "whom God has chosen" [verse 33]} -- how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? (Romans 8:32, NIV.)
Would He withhold from them justification (verse33)? Would He refrain to give them freedom from condemnation (verse 34)? Would He neglect to intercede for them (verse 34)?
Would He allow us to be separated from Him (verse 35)?
"No," the writer of Romans emphasized, "in all these things we are more than conquerors through him (the Good Shepherd) who loved us" (Romans 8:37, NIV).