The Agora
Bible Articles and Lessons: G

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Good shepherd

The Good Shepherd

"On the roads of Palestine, and on the hills, you see the good shepherd. He comes along at the head of his flock, generally carrying over his shoulders a lamb or an injured sheep.

"A most remarkable thing is the sympathy that exists between him and his flock. He never drives them as our own shepherds drive their sheep. He always walks at their head, leading them along the roads and over the hills to new pasture: and, as he goes, he sometimes talks to them in a loud sing-song voice, using a weird language unlike anything I have ever heard in my life.

"Early one morning I saw an extraordinary sight not far from Bethlehem. Two shepherds had evidently spent the night with their flocks in a cave. The sheep were all mixed together and the time had come for the shepherds to go in different directions. One of the shepherds stood some distance from the sheep and began to call. First one, then another, then four or five animals ran toward him; and so until he had counted his whole flock.

"More interesting than the sight of this was the knowledge that Jesus must have seen exactly the same sight and described it in his own words: 'He calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice. And a stranger they will not follow...' This parable spake Jesus unto them. 'I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine' " (HVM 154).

"I notice that some of the flock keep near the shepherd, and follow whithersoever he goes, without the least hesitation, while others stray about on either side, or loiter far behind; and he often turns round and scolds them in a sharp, stern cry.

"Not unlike the Good Shepherd. Indeed, I never ride over these hills, clothed with flocks, without meditating upon this delightful theme. Our Saviour says that the good shepherd, when he putteth forth his own sheep, goeth before them, and they follow (John 10:4). This is true to the letter. They are so tame and so trained that they follow their keeper with the utmost docility... Any one that wanders is sure to get into trouble.

"Some sheep always keep near the shepherd, and are his special favorites. Each of them has a name, to which it answers joyfully; and the kind shepherd is ever distributing to them choice portions which he gathers for that purpose. These are the contented and happy ones. They are in no danger of getting lost or into mischief, nor do wild beasts and thieves come near them. The great body, however, are mere worldlings, intent upon their own pleasures or selfish interests. They run from bush to bush, searching for variety or delicacies, and only now and then lift their heads to see where the shepherd is...

"Did you ever see a shepherd gather the lambs in his arms, and carry them in his bosom (Isa 40:11)? Often; and he will gently lead along the mothers, in those times when to overdrive them even for a single day would be fatal (Gen 33:13)" (LB 202-205).

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