On a recent trip to Israel we were near the Sea of Galilee at a place called Migdal, which is where Mary Magdalene would have come from. We were visiting the site of an ancient settlement which was uncovered when excavations were made, prior to the building of a new church. Inside the new church building there were mosaics depicting events from Jesus’ life and ministry. One of these showed Jesus taking Jairus’ daughter by the hand as He raised her from the dead. In Mark 5:41 it’s recorded that Jesus said: “Talitha koumi”, which in most English bibles is translated as: “Little girl, I say to you, get up!” However, we were told by our guide that the Aramaic word ‘Talitha’, in fact, means a young sheep, so Jesus is actually saying, “Little lamb, I say to you, get up!”
I found this very touching, and it reminded me of how Jesus tells us in John 10 that He is the Good Shepherd. In that passage He says that He calls His own sheep by name (John 10:3). There’s something special about being called by name. When people use our name it makes us feel acknowledged and accepted. How wonderful to have Jesus calling us by name!
Secondly, He says that He goes ahead of His sheep and leads them (verses 3 & 4). Jesus invites us to follow Him – He doesn’t chase us with a stick, or drive us cruelly, as some herdsmen might do. He gives us free will to choose to obey His voice and to follow Him. He says that His sheep listen to His voice and recognise it. How well do we know the voice of our Good Shepherd?
He also protects His flock from predators and thieves, and He even lays down His life for His sheep.
We can further see the Lord’s heart to shepherd His people, when we read, in Ezekiel 34:4, how He berates the spiritual shepherds of Israel for neglecting their flock: “You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured. You have not brought back the strays or searched for the lost.” Because of their neglect, God says in Ezekiel 34:15: “I myself will tend my sheep.” He promises to search for the lost (which includes every one of us at some time in our lives!), to bind up the injured and to strengthen the weak.
Do we recognise the voice of Jesus our Good Shepherd and follow Him when He calls? Do we allow Him to tend us with His loving care, binding up our wounds and strengthening us? Can we say, like David in Psalm 23, “The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want”? Perhaps we need to let Him take us by the hand, as He did with Jairus’ daughter, and raise us up into more of the abundant life that He came to bring us (John 10:10).
Prayer: Lord, thank You that You’re my Shepherd and that You care for me so much. Thank You that You want to bind up all my wounds and strengthen me. Help me always to recognise Your voice and to follow You, so I can come more fully into the abundant life You have for me. Amen.
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