The Eyes of a Shepherd

He's looking diligently in love.

Looking upon You (3)

The LORD is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.
Psalm 23.1-3

Be diligent to know the state of your flocks,
And attend to your herds… Proverbs 27.23

We would see Jesus

Our desire is to see Jesus, to contemplate Him in His glory, beginning with the glory we may expect to see in His face (2 Cor. 4.6). We’re thinking in spiritual, not physical terms here; our desire is to learn how to let the Light of Jesus flood our soul through the eye of the heart, so that wisdom and revelation fill us with hope, enrich us with the Presence of Christ, and transform us into His image by the power that raised Him from the dead (Eph. 1.15-20; 2 Cor. 3.12-18). If we can see Jesus in this way, He can fill us with all the fullness of God, and overflow from us to fill the world with Himself (Eph. 3.20; Jn. 7.37-39; Eph. 4.8-10).

And this is our great desire: To be so filled with Jesus that He increases in us (Jn. 3.30) and stretches out through us to bring righteousness, peace, and joy in the Spirit to us and through us, on earth as it is in heaven (Rom. 14.17, 18; Matt. 6.10). Jesus is working to fill all things in all things so that through all things God might be glorified and the knowledge of the glory of the Lord will fill the earth as the waters cover the sea (1 Cor. 10.31; Eph. 1.22, 23; Hab. 2.14).

That we can have a part in this great movement of grace and truth is utterly amazing. But it doesn’t just happen. We must seek the Lord, and make it our goal to set Him always before our minds, so that His joy and pleasure and power are at work through us always, in everything we do (Ps. 16.8, 11). As we set our mind on the things that are above, where Jesus is seated at the right hand of God, our perspective on life and the world will be dramatically transformed and empowered (Col. 3.1-3).

So we are learning what it means to pray, “Father, I want to see Jesus,” so that the effects of seeing Jesus increase our hope, joy, and power for following Him. And when we give ourselves to seeing Jesus, we discover, first of all, that He is gazing upon us at all times. We want to pray with Nicholas of Cusa, “Feed me with Thy gaze, O Lord!”

Submitting to His look
This entails submitting to the gaze of Jesus. If we deny that Jesus is looking upon us, or if we are indifferent to His gaze, or think such an exercise to be rather too spiritual for us, we will not gain the benefit of seeing Jesus seeing us. And we will simply plod along in our faith, with unchanged hearts and minds, holding to a form of the knowledge of Jesus, but denying the power of it (2 Tim. 3.5).

So rejoice, because when you look into the face of Jesus, to be caught up in His glory, you will see the face of your Good Shepherd. A more careful reading of Proverbs 27.23 would be something like this: “Looking, look to see the face of your sheep…” The image we should see here is of a shepherd, inspecting his sheep as they return to the fold. He bends over each one, takes their face in his hands as he smiles and speaks softly to them. He opens their eyes wide, lifts their lips to examine their teeth and gums, inspects their ears, and perhaps comes close enough to smell each one, whether some infection or other malady may be present.

This is how Jesus looks upon us. He is our Good Shepherd, and He knows each and every one us, calls us by name, and makes Himself known as our guarding and keeping and feeding Pastor (cf. Jn. 10). When you look to see Jesus, first, bow your head in His Presence. This will keep you appropriately humble before Him. Then, let the hymn lead you: “Turn your eyes upon Jesus; look full in His wonderful face…” Turn your face upward, and look into the loving, shepherding eyes of Jesus. Let His gaze come through the eye of your heart to bathe your soul; and listen as He inspects your affections, thoughts, values, priorities, and works, testing these all for the rich, leavening presence of faith, hope, and love.

Linger there. Don’t be in a hurry. Let your Good Shepherd inspect, soothe, heal, and renew everything about you. Then rise to follow Him into the rich meadows and beside the still waters of His Word, where He will feed and nurture you to the joy and rejoicing of your heart (Jer. 15.16).

Enfold and unfold
It’s possible that some readers may find such a protocol as I have outlined to be rather mystical and, therefore, probably not for them. But consider: When you come to Jesus in prayer, you are seeing something. You may just see the room around you. Or you might see Jesus on the cross. Or perhaps what you see is whatever the contents of your prayers suggest.

All that is fine. But allow these images to dissolve together in the face of your loving and attending Good Shepherd, and you will know more of your hope, more of His glory, and more of His power in prayer and life.

You might try praying with Nicholas of Cusa, “Blessed be Thou, O Lord my God, who dost feed and nourish me with the milk of comparisons; until Thou shalt give me more solid food, lead me, Lord God, by these paths unto Thee! For if Thou lead me not, I cannot continue in the way, by reason of the frailty of my corruptible nature, and of the earthen vessel that I bear about with me. Trusting in Thine aid, Lord, I return again to find Thee beyond the wall of the coincidence of enfolding and unfolding, and as I go in and go out by this door of Thy word and Thy concept, I find sweetest nourishment.”

Look to your Good Shepherd’s face, and let Him enfold you in His loving hands, and unfold to you the mystery of His Presence, promise, and power.

For reflection
1. When you think of Jesus as our Good Shepherd, what images come to mind?

2. Why is it important to linger in the Lord’s Presence, waiting in silence upon Him?

3. How can an exercise such as the one outlined here help us in getting more nourishment from the Word of God? 

Next steps – Preparation: Try the exercise outlined here for a few days. Be patient, and wait for the Lord to gaze upon your soul and test your heart and mind.  

T. M. Moore

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.
Books by T. M. Moore