This article is part of a series looking at the Oxymoronic names of God and how understanding them helps us live as Christians in a fallen world. Please click here to read the introductory article and to find links to other articles in the series.
If it were up to me, I would give myself a discount on concert tickets. I am so short and always find myself standing behind someone tall. I don’t get the same experience at concerts that others do. I wouldn’t say that I feel scared in a crowd, but there’s definitely a feeling of claustrophobia, and I know of other people my height who avoid crowds altogether.
What is it like to be a sheep?
Sheep are short too, and their view is often obstructed. Without a shepherd, it’s easy for them to find themselves lost and in dangerous situations. Thankfully, shepherds are much taller than sheep; they can anticipate trouble and keep them out of harm’s way.
What is Jesus like?
In the Bible, Jesus’ followers are likened to sheep, and Jesus promises to be their shepherd. We’re to follow him, and Jesus promises that we’ll recognise his voice.
Not only is Jesus our shepherd, which traditionally has been a lowly profession, but he’s Lord too. It’s as if the shepherd is also the landowner. He knows the land we graze on and is aware of the pitfalls. When we follow him, he knows exactly where the best pastures are and can guide us to them along the best routes. This is what Psalm 23, known familiarly as ‘The Lord is my Shepherd’, is all about.
A rod and a staff. What are they for?
Psalm 23 also tells us that our Shepherd Lord holds a rod and a staff. Shepherds used rods to beat off animals that may attack the sheep and hooked a staff around a sheep’s neck to pull it out of trouble. Using both a rod and staff means the shepherd protects the sheep from external threats and their own internal waywardness. I love this. Jesus, our shepherd, fends off our attackers and helps us out of tight-spots of our own making. How reassuring!
What does this mean for us?
We’re safe then. When troubles seem to surround us, and we can’t see a way through them, we can look to Jesus, who has a much greater perspective. He’ll guide us to places where he’ll know we’ll flourish and thrive, and if danger comes, he can rescue us from every situation. Perhaps he’ll even lift us on his shoulders so we can enjoy his perspective. I want to stick close to him, our shepherd Lord.
To return to the Oxymoronic God series of articles, please click here.
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