Devotion for August 22-24, 2017

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in
green pastures. He leads me beside still waters… Even though I walk
through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you
are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me” (Psalm 23:1-2,
4).

Most of us have seen Jesus portrayed as a shepherd in stained glass
windows or paintings. One such church window shows Jesus the
Good Shepherd surrounded by sheep, which is meant to show His
involvement with His flock. He tenderly holds a lamb with one arm,
and with the other He grasps a shepherd’s rod. His watchful eye is
fixed downward upon all who sit in the pews to listen and receive His
care. There is also a circle behind Jesus’ head, referred to as a nimbus
or halo, and is used when depicting angels, apostles, and especially
the Triune God, the source of light and divine things.

All these details, which have their source in Scripture, show Jesus to
be the caring shepherd of souls and bodies. But if the Lord is our
Shepherd, then we are sheep. That we are all sheep should be a
comfort for us because it means that we can look to God in Christ
Jesus for guidance, provision, and security.

In Bible times sheep were not typically fenced in, left to feed
themselves, but were dependent on shepherds for grazing, watering,
and shelter. Sheep need a lot of care when tended like this. We need
a lot of care too. Even as people of faith, we can still get lost. We can
spend days or years away from the flock; we can fail to listen to the
Shepherd’s call; we can find ourselves grazing on the weeds of the
world rather than the sweet new growth of the Word. In short, we
can be like the lost sheep of Jesus’ famous parable.

But God in Christ is truly our Good Shepherd. He does something
that no earthly shepherd would do; He leaves the ninety-nine to
rescue us. The Bible promises that from the line of King David—also
a shepherd!—a new Shepherd will come and genuinely care for all
people. In Jesus, that new Shepherd has come. Rest assured, even
when you walk through the valley of the shadow of death, you
remain in the care of a truly divine Shepherd, who has laid down His
life for you, and taken it up again in Resurrection life. He does not
always remove us from the valleys and shadows of this life; but He
always walks with us. His rod and His staff; His Word and His Gifts,
they comfort us. Our Good Shepherd will always show care and
compassion.

PRAYER O God, Your infinite love restores to the right way those
who err, seeks the scattered, and preserves those whom You have
gathered. Of Your tender mercy pour out on Your faithful people the
grace of unity that, all division and waywardness being ended, Your
flock may be gathered to the true Shepherd of Your Church and may
serve You in all faithfulness; through Jesus Christ, our Lord.