Jesus is our Good Shepherd and we are His sheep. Today I have a word of great comfort and encouragement to share with you through the words of the prophet Isaiah.
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)
This picture painted by the prophet is a source of unimaginable comfort: we, the sheep of the Good Shepherd, are carried in His arms close to His heart. Notice that Jesus tends His flock like a Shepherd who cares equally for every one of His sheep: the young and the old . . . the weak and the strong . . . the wise and the foolish . . . the wanderer and the weary. He makes no distinction between sheep; He gathers all of them in His arms close to His heart.
And don’t miss this truth! He tends His flock. He does not use another to do what only He can do for His sheep. He tends to His lambs personally, passionately, and powerfully.
Personally – Jesus came into this world personally. He did not send angelic ambassadors to tend His flock. This Shepherd is a personal shepherd.
Passionately – Jesus came into this world passionately. His meat and drink was to do the will of His Father. When Jesus saw those who were lost and suffering, He was moved with compassion (see, for example, Matthew 1:41 and 6:34) and met them at their point of need. Jesus passionately accomplished the will of His Father in heaven.
Powerfully – Jesus came into this world powerfully. Our Great Shepherd brought with Him a power greater than any power that came up against Him. Omnipotence overcame every obstacle that stood in His way.
“He carries them close to his heart.” What a picture of unending, unwavering, unconditional love! To be carried over His shoulder, as a soldier carries a wounded comrade from the field of battle, would have been gracious enough. But Isaiah paints a picture that is truly worth 1,000 x 1,000 words! My words cannot plumb the depths of the love our Great Shepherd has for His sheep—all of His sheep. And if you have placed your trust in Christ’s atoning work on your behalf, that includes you.
Sheep are apt to wander off, so when the Bible refers to God’s people as “sheep,” it paints an accurate picture. You and I are, as the great old hymn declares, “prone to wander, Lord I feel it, prone to leave the one I love.” Some, like the Prodigal, may find themselves off in a distant country, eating the slops the world provides instead of the rich food offered by the Good Shepherd (Isaiah 55:2). If this is your condition today, do not despair and do not be afraid! It is not your faithfulness to God that causes Him to love and care for you; it is His faithfulness to you.
Dear, wandering sheep, He carries you in His arms close to His heart! When Jesus said He would never leave you or forsake you (John 14:18; Hebrews 13:5), He meant what He said. I cannot imagine any greater comfort than knowing that great truth about our Great Shepherd.
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!