Devotions this week based on the Message: “Believe the GOOD NEWS of Christmas!”
Who’s taking care of you?
He tends his flock like a shepherd:
He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart;
he gently leads those that have young. (Isaiah 40:11)
For most of us, the relationship of a shepherd to his sheep is a bit foreign. I have never been around sheep except in a petting zoo, nor have I ever been asked to watch a flock of sheep (a good thing for the sheep!) Yet, this picture of God’s relationship to us as a shepherd has a relationship to his sheep is one that occurs multiple times in the pages of Scripture.
Isaiah 40 is no different.
If you were a member of the people of Israel, God had designated that the kings and priests of his people would be the ones who would watch over and protect the people from physical and spiritual harm. A few did well. Most failed God and failed the people. The people were going into captivity to a foreign nation and the Lord was allowing judgment on the people for their drifting away from the loyalty to the Lord.
So who was taking care of the people to whom Isaiah was writing?
One might have felt a bit insecure if anyone was taking care of them if they were under enemy control and the judgment of God.
Yet, the good news of Isaiah 40 continues with the words above. God HAD NOT abandoned his people. In fact, he chose to override the earthly “shepherds” and do it himself. HE would be the shepherd of his people.
Which is a far more comforting and powerful picture of his love not just for the people of Isaiah’s day, but for you and me as well. God has not abandoned his people, rather providing the perfect care for his people.
God’s Spirit gives Isaiah four verbs as to what the Lord would do as our “good shepherd.” Each emphasizes an important aspect of God’s relationship and care for us.
- He TENDS his flock like a shepherd. The tending work of the shepherd was to ensure that the sheep had their physical needs taken care of. He would lead them to “green pastures” to eat and “beside quiet waters” to drink. Their PHYSICAL needs were taken care of.
- He GATHERS the lambs in his arms. The gathering work of the shepherd would ensure the safety of those most vulnerable. The heart of the shepherd was willing to “lay down his life for his sheep.” He let go of his safety to ensure the safety of the lambs and the sheep.
- He CARRIES them close to his heart. The carrying work of the shepherd was not just transporting a sheep from one place to another while holding them at arms length, the carrying work of the shepherd let the lamb know they were loved. He truly cared about them. The shepherd would provide the emotional and relational need of the sheep.
- He gently LEADS those that have young. The leading work of the shepherd was intentional. They didn’t wander in circles. When it was time to move the shepherd knew where they were headed. He had a destination in mind. The shepherd would ensure all reached that destination.
These verbs are what God does for us in sending Jesus, who said, “I am the good shepherd”! HE is the one who takes care of our physical needs. He is the one who ensures we are safe from the prowling destruction of Satan. He is the one who establishes the relationship with us as his children and ensures us that we are loved. He is the one who desires to lead us to heaven and there spend an eternity with us.
This is the GOOD NEWS of Christmas. God sent Jesus to this world to do all that was necessary to shepherd us, not because he had to, but because he had a heart of loved that wanted to.
Jesus came with the passion to shepherd you because he cares deeply for you!
Apply: Read Psalm 23. How does God tend, gather, carry and lead you?
Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you for coming at Christmas to be our shepherd…to tend us, gather us, carry us and lead us. AMEN.