Thursday, December 11, 2008

Pasture/Shepherd

John 10:7 So Jesus again said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.

I heard this description of God the other day and I can't seem to stop thinking about it. Even though they often go together, they are certainly not the similar.

A pasture is where livestock go to be sustained. If the pasture is lush and green the feeding is good, the livestock doesn't have to be moved around much to be fed and a small amount of pasture will sustain a large herd. But if the pasture land has only sparse vegetation then much work would be involved to sustain the herd.

A Shepherd is one who tends, feeds and guards sheep. This would have been a really tough, lonely and lowly job in Bible times. You are out in the boonies with a bunch of less than scholarly animals, in every season of the year, from hottest to coldest, in the rain, sun, snow and wind, all just to make sure that these animal didn't hurt themselves and get hurt, or eaten, by others. The Shepherd had to make sure the sheep had enough food and water to sustain them; they had to be both the vet and the farm hand all in one person. They were everything to the sheep.

But how can both a place and a person be one? How can God be both our Pasture and our Shepherd? There are many references to pasture and pasture land in the Bible, and often we are called the sheep of His pasture, I had just never really stopped to think that He is the pasture. He is what sustains us, He is our food, and is our life. Because He is Life, because He is the greenest of pastures, we are assured a feast every morning. The Feast is not food in the sense we think of, but in the sense that He is our spiritual feast. He is also the sustainer of our physical needs as well. Just like a real sheep would not get up in the morning and be worried where the next blade of grass would come from, or if they would actually have water to drink, we are not to worry about anything. We are to feast in the pasture of Who God is.

There, of course, are many references to shepherds in the Bible as well. In Bible times, and probably today, there were good shepherds and bad shepherds. Good shepherds were those who understood ownership of the things entrusted to them. They would do whatever was necessary to ensure the safety and nourishment of the flock. Bad shepherds were ones who were in it for the pay, and would do almost anything to get out of work. The Good Shepherd is more than a good shepherd. He is the Best Shepherd. He knows exactly where the lushest feeding is; in Him. He knows exactly what each and every sheep needs every minute of every day. That may mean a broken leg, or loving strokes. A good shepherd could get some of those things right some of the time, but certainly not all of them right all the time. He is our Sustainer, Protector, Provider, Healer, Comforter, Helper, Encourager, Feast, Thirst Quencher, Rain, Sun, Shelter and so many other things.

I imagine there are also other things that seem very different, like shepherd/pasture, that He is. I would like you to share those with me.

I know you are all busy, but if nothing else, post 2 words for me to think about.

Are you resting in all that He is? Are you feasting in all that He is, or starving because you are looking for the feast somewhere other than Him?

1 comment:

skh said...

I am encouraged by the following two things:

The result of the LORD being our shepherd is that we do not want.

The purpose of the LORD taking care of us is for His name's sake.