We all long for provision and protection. Especially in the times of life when our bank account in nearing empty, a relationship is on the verge of disaster, when we leave your parents care and enter the real world, when the diagnosis isn’t what we’d hoped for, or when we just don’t know how we are going to make it another week, or even another day. If you don’t have someone to reach out to, someone to grab your hand, this world can be a scary place.
That is why it is important for us to remember that Jesus provides and protects.
In John 10:11-12 Jesus declares, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them.”
We tend to think of shepherds as sentimental beings, we might picture them with cuddly lambs. But a shepherd’s job was rugged, tiring, and sometimes dangerous. Shepherding required a great deal of sacrifice. The words “lay down his life” carries the idea of an intentional act.
A survey of the Biblical depictions of shepherding give us a more robust picture of the vocation. In 1 Samuel, David mentions fighting off a lion and a bear while watching after sheep. The prophet Amos mentions a shepherd who rescued two legs and an ear of a sheep from a lion’s mouth. Shepherding required courage and a willingness to fight for the flock.
This is what separated a shepherd from a hired hand. In contrast to the shepherd, the hired hand will abandon the sheep in times of danger. The hired hand simply looks after the sheep for pay. The shepherd is much different. If the sheep were in mortal danger, the shepherd would do what he had to in order to protect them.
Jesus is saying, I am the Good Shepherd that will lay down his life for the sheep. It is by Jesus’ sacrifice, Jesus’ death that we are delivered. And the good news is that Jesus has provided and protected us from the one thing that we could not overcome.
Sin is the predator that would mean death for each and every one of us. Jesus is not a hired hand that runs in a time of trouble. In fact, Jesus entered in to the darkest trouble of history on the cross. The good shepherd has laid down his life to deliver us from sin and death.
If Jesus laid down his life to deliver you from the one thing you could not overcome, how can he not provide and protect you through all other things? In John 15:13 Jesus declares, “greater is no love than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends“. If we truly believe that, then we can believe that Jesus will provide and protect us – from any dark moment life throws at us.
The Good Shepherd didn’t just die for you, He died instead of you. Jesus provides and protects.