JESUS UNBOXED: Jesus is the True Shepherd, Be Secure
Reflection on the message of Ptr Jonathan Bradford
I've always related the shepherd-sheep relationship with a father-son one, but never mother-daughter. In the course of last Sunday's message, I began to see it from the perspective of a mother. Security has always been fundamental to a relationship between parents and their children and, indeed, kids always find security in the loving arms of their mothers. I know, I do. I read in a book some years back that shepherds would not only call to their sheep but even sing. And the sheep would recognize the unique voice of their shepherd and begin to find him; something that mothers do when their child is still in their womb. So it's no surprise that babies become calm upon hearing their moms speak and sing lullabies.
I also read that the mother sheep leads their lambs while following the shepherd. The lamb sees its mother, follows her so closely and every need is met by its loving mother: the warmth from closeness, her milk for nourishment, and the protection she gives to the lamb. Not until they grow up and are weaned do they begin to find their place within the herd and follow the shepherd on their own. This picture encouraged me to continue pursuing a deep and personal relationship with Jesus. As the mother sheep, I am to walk closely with Jesus while I raise my lambs, carefully showing them how to do the same so that when the time comes that they take their place in the world, they would have their own personal relationship with Jesus and walk closely with Him. It is both a sobering thought that I am raising my children to let them go, yet being assured that letting them go means releasing them to God's hand. I know now that what I must focus on is making sure that my child is a lamb who will one day become a parabolic sheep, not a goat, following and loving his Shepherd.
The security we give our children on earth as mothers is truly remarkable. I know many mothers would go to such lengths to protect their sons, would provide lavishly for their daughters and the desire to keep them within arms’ reach and sight is something only mothers would understand. Yes, we hover that way. I know I once did! But when I began to understand and see the parallelism of Jesus as my Shepherd, that I am the sheep and my kids are the lambs, I realized the gravity of my role as their steward. My children do not belong to me; I was only entrusted by the Lord to care for them and raise them to be a godly man and woman. And because I know my Shepherd is a loving one, a compassionate, merciful and gracious, protecting one, I am assured. He loves them so much more than I will ever love my children. Knowing what He went through to save me, His one lost sheep, to bring me back to the flock, how can I fear letting go? How can I not be at peace, releasing them to the One who sacrificed all for His sheep? How can I not have joy knowing that He knows the names of my children, He knows their natures and needs, knows them intimately and completely? How can there still be doubts in my heart when I know from experience that even when my children will fail, there can never be anything or anyone that can separate them from God's love?
A blessed Christmas to all the sheep of our one true Shepherd!
“He will feed His flock like a shepherd: He will gather the lambs in His arm, He will carry them in His bosom and will gently lead those that have their young.” (Isaiah 40:11)