Jesus is the Good Shepherd
By: Dudley Rutherford
Jesus is the fulfillment of Psalm 23, which is one of the most well-known, oft-quoted psalms of all time. Line by line, it is astonishing to see all the ways that Jesus Christ fulfilled the words of this great and prophetic psalm. It shows us—a thousand years before the Messiah was even born—that He would lovingly provide for, guide, heal, and protect every person who puts their faith and trust in Him. Are you in need of provision? How about guidance in the storms and uncertainties of life? How about spiritual, physical, or relational healing? How about protection? If any of these ring true for you, I want to encourage you to trust in the Good Shepherd for four reasons:
1. THE GOOD SHEPHERD LAYS DOWN HIS LIFE FOR THE SHEEP.
When we have Jesus, we shall not want because He is the Living Water (John 7:37) and the Bread of Life (John 6:35). He satisfies the longings of every heart and every soul. This truth is described by King David of Israel when he wrote in Psalm 23:1, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want” (Psalm 23:1), which foreshadowed Jesus’s words in John 10:11, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” Jesus laid down His life on the cross as a sacrifice for the sins of everyone who puts their faith and trust in Him (see John 10:17-18).
2. WHEN THE SHEPHERD IS NEAR, THERE IS NO NEED TO FEAR.
Psalm 23:4 declares that, “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil,for you are with me…” One of the shepherd’s jobs is to protect his sheep from danger—whether it is predators, perilous landscape, bad weather, or thieves. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, protects His sheep as well. When we follow Him, there is no need to fear because all authority has been given to Him (Matthew 28:18). He conquered sin and death (2 Timothy 1:10), and He is the light of the world (John 8:12).
3. THE SHEPHERD PREPARES, BESTOWS FAVOR, AND BLESSES.
Psalm 23:5 reads, “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil;my cup overflows.” Here we see God’s abundant favor and blessing bestowed upon those who acknowledge and revere Him. Jesus said He is going up to Heaven to prepare a place for us (John 14:2-3), and He describes Heaven as a great banquet (in Luke 14:15-24). The oil and an overflowing cup are also symbols of favor and blessing. Barnes’ Notes on the Bible explains that “the custom of anointing the head on festival occasions, as an indication of prosperity and rejoicing.” Joy and rejoicing come with the Shepherd’s preparation, blessing, and favor!
4. GOD’S GOODNESS AND MERCY WILL FOLLOW YOU ALL THE DAYS OF YOUR LIFE.
This is the first half of the promise of Psalm 23:6. The word “follow” comes from the Hebrew word radaph, which means “to chase down.” The Good Shepherd pursues you relentlessly, just as an earthly shepherd would pursue a lost sheep from his flock. Jesus describes this very situation in Luke 15 in the Parable of the Lost Sheep, in which a shepherd left his ninety-nine sheep to go after the one sheep that was lost—and he rejoiced greatly when that sheep was found. God’s mercy and lovingkindness will hunt you down, no matter your past mistakes. So, why waste your time running away from God? Let Him clean you up, protect, lead, and guide you in this life and for all eternity (“and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever” the second half of the promise of verse six). No place is safer than in the Shepherd’s care.
Pastor Dudley Rutherford is the author of Compelled: The Irresistible Call to Share Your Faith (available everywhere books are sold online) and the senior pastor of Shepherd Church, which has three campuses in the Greater Los Angeles area. You can watch services online or connect with Dudley at www.LiftUpJesus.com and on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.