We are once again in Williamsburg, VA. This time, it’s just a stopover on our way to a week on the Outer Banks. But it’s enough time to wander around the colonial heart of the town. Because of the eye my daughter has for animals, we are lingering by the fence of a paddock holding sheep.
It’s a perfect time to reflect on Jesus’ self-described role as the Good Shepherd.
“The shepherd of the sheep… goes ahead on ahead of them and the sheep follow him because they know his voice… (they) will come in and go out, and find pasture… I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me – just as the Father knows me and I know the Father – and I lay down my life for the sheep.” John 10:4, 9, 11
There’s a cause-and-effect formula here that I would put like this:
They know me --› so that--› they can recognize my voice --› so that --› they would follow me --› so that --› they can find pasture.
When we study Scripture, when we tune into the Spirit through prayer and contemplation, we are learning to listen to Jesus’ voice. And the goal of all that is to follow him to the pasture he’s prepared for us.
And what is the pasture? This is a question that is on my mind frequently, in one form or another. I think I often see it like retirement: the end of the journey, where we have all we need and simply spend the day feeding ourselves and relaxing.
For a sheep, that’s certainly true. The pasture is abundant food. But it’s also protection – where they can be sheepish without any fear.
As I approach the fence, the lamb wanders over toward me. For a moment, I think it’s interested in me – curious, perhaps? But not, it is simply thirsty. I’m disappointed -- how could one not want to be liked and trusted by such a cute animal?
The foundation of the formula above is relationship. It’s not only the beginning point (they know me), it’s the process (they follow me). It’s implied that it’s the end result as well (just as the Father knows me). The relationship of the Father to the Son is the core to everything Jesus does. It is, to use this metaphor, his pasture.
Finding pasture, then, is finding Jesus. It’s not using Jesus to get to a place of abundance. It’s finding abundance in every little journey (come in and go out) because Jesus is present -- because he is guiding, because he knows me and gave his life for me.
There’s abundance in his call to get up and get going. There’s abundance in trotting after the Shepherd over the hills. And there’s abundance in the discovery of green fields.
Because the LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want.
Savior, like a shepherd lead us
Much we need Thy tender care
In Thy pleasant pastures feed us
For our use Thy folds prepare
Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus
Thou hast bought us, Thine we are
Reader: What pasture has Jesus led you to in the past week?