A new-born lamb that is being rejected by its Mum is especially helpless. Nothing invokes human maternal compassion quite like it! We watched as this scenario was being worked out before our very eyes on the island croft next door to where we were staying. First-time Mums don’t always know what to do when their new-born lamb needs a drink! And as the lamb kept on trying to get a drink, Fiona’s anxiety increased until the point when I was despatched to find the shepherd and alert him to the Hebridean drama unfolding before our eyes.
Sheep need a shepherd to watch over them through every stage of life. The shepherd came and took both lamb and Mum into his care, giving the lamb a bottle until the Mum got the hang of letting her lamb get a drink whenever it was wanted. Sheep without a shepherd are vulnerable to all sorts of danger. And as Jesus looked at the crowds who were following Him, He saw them as sheep without a shepherd. They were in need of love, care, protection and healing.
In Ezekiel 34:16 the prophet foresaw God answering the cry of man’s heart when he expressed the heart of God, saying, “I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak.” And when Jesus came, He fulfilled these prophetic words by declaring, “I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (John 10:11).
Many is the time when I have looked at hurting people in a congregation and remembered the great commission that Jesus gave to the church to go and do the same things that He had taught the first disciples to do – to go out and proclaim the Kingdom of God and heal those in need of healing (Luke 9:2). Jesus is the Good Shepherd, but His people are the under-shepherds who tend the lambs and care for the flock.
We urgently need to proclaim the Gospel into a world that has largely rejected Jesus as Saviour and Redeemer, but we also need to proclaim Him as the Good Shepherd who came to heal as well as to save. When people have experienced His healing, they know for certain that He really is not only the Good Shepherd, but the Saviour of the World. Healing and evangelism are inseparable.
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