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
"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
"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).